#InstagramTakeover: Michael

Michael Instatakeover

This week, Michael is hijacking Burning Red's Instagram!

But just who IS this Michael I speak of? He's our front-end website developer, in charge of making your websites work like a charm. As a Star Wars and wrestling fan, you can expect to see Hulk Hogan on a hovercraft, along with some foodie-related fun and some general office tomfoolery. Wanna know more? We gave Michael some easy-peasy questions...



If you could have your own theme music, what song would play as you dramatically enter a room?

Is it fair to ask for it to be 'California Love' by Tupac and Dr. Dre? That’s not very dramatic though. I guess something like ‘Recogniser’ from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack  or ‘Drive It Like You Stole It’ by The Glitch Mob would be more dramatic…Then again, I’m a different kind of dramatic, so maybe ‘Lost River’ by Murder by Death? I think my final answer will be ‘Kanye West’ by Atmosphere. #putyourhandsintheairlikeyoureallydocare

What's gonna be the best thing about the new Star Wars film in December?

Michael's Rebellion and Empire Star Wars tattoo
Michael Stormtrooper Star Wars tattoo

I don’t think it’s any secret I have 3 Star Wars tattoos…so I’m pretty committed to the franchise. I’ve even learnt to love the prequel trilogy! Bring your Jar Jar abuse, I’m prepared!

I’ve gone round the houses about the new film, and I came to the conclusion that I’m disappointed they have abandoned the expanded universe because there are some incredible stories in it (don’t even get me started on Grand Admiral Thrawn), but I can see why they did. No ties, makes for cleaner starting point.

Bottom line… every time I see a practical effects shot, there is part of me that thinks the franchise is probably safer in the hands of JJ Abrahams than it was in George Lucas’.

If you had to marry one professional wrestler, who would you choose?

This is getting personal very quickly… while I am totally for anyone’s right to marry whoever they want, I would prefer to be married to a woman and someone around my own age. I’m sorry to be so conventional. I guess that narrows it to Leva Bates AKA Blue Pants or Ivelisse Velez?

I don’t think being married to CM Punk (he is already married) or the Ultimate Warrior is a good idea.

Again, I have two wrestling related tattoos…

Michael's CM Punk WWE tattoo
Michael's WWE tattoo

What's the most enjoyable part of building a website?

There is a point after I have the basic feel put together; header, footer and the consistent elements where I start to really get to do my thing. I start to add interactivity, hover effects, functionality quirks, UX thinking and the site goes from being little more than a coded web version of a Photoshop file and really starts to feel like a website. When that starts to happen, THAT is when I get excited.

Favourite album artwork?

Johnny Cash album artwork

I have a 10,000 word masters dissertation in the covers of Johnny Cash’s series of albums on the American label, with particular focus on ‘American III: Solitary Man’. Does that make it my favourite by default? If you ever want a REALLY long winded explanation and history of those albums, be prepared for me to talk for hours.

I get drawn to bold photo covers that capture a moment in a band/artist's story. Design style can speak volumes, but a photo talks so much more. I had some excellent musical guidance thanks to my Dad and Uncles - they were all 60’s guys, and that is when the band photo ruled all.

Name one of your favourite Burning Red clients that you've worked with.

Rebuilding Kelly’s Records site was awesome for a whole bunch of reasons. As an avid record collector I knew exactly what was needed to bring that site to life. I’m not just the guy making their website, I’m their audience as well. Also, my great uncle and aunt were the original owners (it’s still in the family) and I’ve been shopping there since Uncle Eddie used to give me records and tapes when I was a kid. You have no idea how excited the 8 year old me was when he gave me Def Leppards ‘Hysteria’ on vinyl…I’ve still got it!

From a totally different point of view, working on Meic’s website is a really positive experience. Sometimes being someone ‘who just writes code’ you can lose objectivity about why and who you are doing it for. Knowing something I helped make is making a difference in the life of kids/young people in need of support is the kind of thing that makes you feel warm inside.

Tell me something about yourself that the rest of the team wouldn't know (yet)...

If they don’t know it already… there's probably a good reason for it! Um… I think it's come up in the past, but my mother is a morris dancer and my Dad plays guitar for the morris dancing band. Seriously.

Michael's morris dancing family

I went to see a friend, who is a Jazz saxophonist, play a gig. My mother mentioned she fancied coming along after a night out with her troupe and just as the set was about to start, she arrived in full morris dancing kit, sat down and enjoyed the show. When my friend finished, he immediately came to speak to my Mum. She left shortly after and everyone at the gig asked him who the crazy woman was.

“She is my spiritual Guru."

I've gotta ask: what would be your wrestling name?

I already have an alter ego...

Michael's alter ego - The Caped Invader!

The Caped Invader!

It’s a cape from a character called the Hurricane and the mask I bought from a wrestler called Colt Cabana who is almost certainly not a masked wrestler called Matt Classic.

What's your favourite app right now?

As much as I dip in and out of loads of apps, once you get past the major apps you need (calendars, social media etc.) there are only two I can’t imagine not having now.

Strava and Pocket.

I don’t think it's any secret to anyone who has talked to me for more than 40 seconds that I am a super keen cyclist and runner/triathlete. Tracking all the miles would be impossible without Strava. The best part of it is the social network element - don’t get me wrong, the data tracking is excellent, but being able to talk to other fitness nerds about distances, times, routes, splits and elevations without boring the pants off my other friends is a huge benefit.

With Pocket, how many articles do you see in an average day that you can’t stop and read, but think I want to read that! 'Loads' is probably the answer. With this app, within a couple of clicks the article is saved to a nice easy-to-read format waiting for you whenever you're ready.

If you could create the website for any company or brand in the world, who would you pick?

It goes without saying. Anything to do with Star Wars, WWE or The Muppets.  Everyone has those things they loved when they were younger that they still love as an adult - I’m thankful three of the big things from my youth have grown with me.

What's your survival plan for when cats seize political power and take over the world?

Be REALLY happy I have a cat who can argue my case for me to be kept alive as an experienced food bowl filler!

You've got one day left on earth. What would be your last meal?

Luckily, thanks to all the running and cycling, I’ve got quite an appetite, so I could fit in most of the things I would want to eat no sweat! Give me a traditional Italian pizza, ideally from the place opposite my old flat in Florence. Add anything from Grillstock as a side and round it off with a cherry milkshake that is so thick the straw sits up straight in the glass without moving, like the one I had in Alice Cooper’s restaurant in Phoenix.

Who has influenced you the most, work and design-wise?

Work wise… not one person as such, but I’ve spent most of my adult life in and around the DIY punk and hardcore scene. There is a supportive and self-reliant work ethic that exists within that community, that will never leave me. My family brought me up to believe that you can do anything you set your mind to (if you are prepared to put in the hard work) as well. I guess those two make a strong combination.

Design wise… I’m not even sure anymore! I was speaking to a friend the other day about how much I love working within constraint and let the constraint dictate the result. I made a music video for my friends Samoans, they had no budget (actually no budget), their drummer lives 3 hours away, so we couldn’t shoot band footage easily - all they had was a fun idea, a bag full of animal masks and some friends with nothing to do on a Bank Holiday weekend!


Who do you admire in this industry?

At the moment, after seeing him talk at Design Stuff Cardiff, I can’t get enough of Ben Tallon. He's someone who seems to talk sense, has written an awesome book and has worked for the WWE and CALM (a suicide prevention charity very close to my heart). For similar reasons, Rob Dobi. I love his work and he seems like a stand up guy - plus, from following him on Instagram, we seem to like a lot of the same stuff!

Best website you've ever seen?

There is something to be said for a beautifully designed and perfectly formed website, but the web by its nature is always evolving and as such, the best website I’ve ever seen might not be the same two years later. Some of the best websites I’ve ever seen have been seemingly mundane places where web developers get together to experiment!

I’ve always been loved the generosity of the web community, because we can’t really hide our techniques from each other (there's no point in trying) so it creates a world where rather than trying to shroud technique in mystery, it just gets published and shared under public use licenses. That is special.

What would be your superpower?

That’s a real toughy! Even after thinking about this for a few hours, I still can’t make up my mind. Hmmm…it will always come back to making the world a better place. Could I travel through time like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap?

If the laws of physics didn't apply, what would be your ultimate fancy dress costume?

Anything involving ACTUAL lightsabers.

Favourite ever quote?

I wish there was one! Does something from the Simpsons count? There is a Simpsons quote for every circumstance in life… 'Everything's coming up Milhouse!'

Michael's Simpsons quote tattoo

If you had to live in a famous landmark, which one would you choose and why?

Surely most landmarks wouldn’t be good places to live? Could you imagine your bedroom being in the head of the Statue of Liberty and the bathroom being in her feet? That is one hell of a walk in the middle of the night!

What's your favourite type of thing to see on Instagram?

I like to see content that adds to the world in a positive way or contributes something new. I’m not a fan of the narcissism and self importance that social media can create, so I often find myself avoiding the selfie brigade in favour of interesting things. There are a few of my friends I don’t see enough of, some with young kids, and getting to feel connected to their lives is really valuable. Every time my friend post pictures of his two girls who call me ‘Uncle Mike’ it makes me grateful that social media exists.

To see Michael's full Instagram takeover, head to our Instagram & see what madness he's throwing your way!

Burning Red Instagram social media strategy