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Five Questions with Collis Ta’eed

Published by Chris Coyier

Collis Ta'eed is the kind of guy that every web designer with a little entrepreneurial spirit wants to be. He is a trend-setting designer who's work is seen, used, and interacted with by millions of people a day on Envato's sites like PSDTUTS and FlashDen. I would list all of the sites here, but there is just too darn many of them it would take up the whole paragraph! If Collis merely designed all these sites, that would be an incredible accomplishment. But Collis not only designed them all, but is the companies CEO and "idea guy" as well!

CHRIS: You are the CEO of a successful company that you started. You travel around the world living and working from different countries. You work with your wife and family. You get to design websites all day. Is that as awesome as it sounds?

COLLIS: It certainly is pretty awesome! I'm not sure what I did to deserve such a good life, but I sure am glad that it happened. Traveling was a really neat experience, we actually decided to do it after my wife Cyan read that Tim Ferriss book "The Four Hour Workweek". Of course in practice both of us continued working 50-60 hour weeks, so I suspect Tim wouldn't have been very proud of us.

Because Envato has been growing so quickly, we recently decided after one brilliant year of traveling that it was time to come back to Australia and really establish our Melbourne HQ. We have some really big plans for Envato and though most of our team is spread out across the globe it helps to have a core team together in one place.

 

CHRIS: All Envato's sites/businesses are all in some way focused on the design or creative world. Do you have any plans to break away from that and try something different in the future?

COLLIS: I think when you get into business it's always best to work on something you know and understand. For us the creative fields are where we came from so it has made a lot of sense to make that the core of our business. I think we are slowly branching further and further out and I think if all goes to plan next year will see us get into new areas.

In particular we're working on a lot of Tuts+ plans to expand to teaching all sorts of things. But before we get to anything really novel, we still have more than a few creative fields to explore. In particular Skellie is now working on a Cgtuts+ site to teach 3d skills which promises to be very cool!

 

CHRIS: You literally designed every one of Envato's sites yourself. They all feel Collis-y to me. You also mentioned on The Netsetter that this may become a problem, as doing things yourself will only get you so far. Is that going to be a hard day when you need to reliquish design control of the sites?

COLLIS: Oh yes it certainly is going to be difficult giving up the design work! I love design and I often think about how our sites should work while designing them. Nonetheless my time seems to be getting scarcer and scarcer and lately I've been bottlenecking the team while they wait for me which isn't too good!

With the upcoming redesign of our marketplace sites we actually got input from three great web designers - Liam Mckay of WeFunction.com, Aaron Lynch of Stoodeo.com and Kai Loon Chan of Kailoon.com. That was a really neat experience as the three of them had some great ideas that have made the design so much better. It also means I have some scape goats to blame if things go wrong :-P But seriously, I hope we can find designers that talented to join the team later this year!

 

CHRIS: I'm sure the last thing you have time for these days is freelance jobs, but is there one project that if you were given the opportunity to freelance on, there is no way you could pass up?

COLLIS: There sure is, I would LOVE the chance to make some awesome themes for Gmail :-) I use it every day and was thrilled when they introduced their themes feature. Now if someone from Google would just email me to let me make something that looked awesome, I'd be sorely tempted to break my ban on freelance work!

[[ ED: Are you listening Google?! You HAVE to get this man on some Gmail themes! ]]

 

CHRIS: I imagine you get a lot of feedback on all your sites from readers or users who try to tell you how you should be running things. How do you handle this?

COLLIS: As we all know sometimes it can be hard taking feedback, especially negative feedback! But I always think I'd rather have our sites filled with people who care enough to give an opinion and we try to take as much on board as possible. Sometimes you can't keep everyone happy, and sometimes things aren't necessarily practical, but we do our best!

The one thing that always gives me the heeby-jeebies is releasing a new design. The bigger our sites get the more people are involved which can be a bit scary. So far we've been really fortunate that most of our designs have gone down well. I guess as long as there aren't any street protests like Facebook's redesign got then I'll be happy :-)

Comments

  1. Anonymous
    Permalink to comment#

    Never heard of him.
    Can’t say I’m that impressed…

    • Checkout any of the Envato websites, and you would have heard of him.

      But nice interview, I can’t wait until CGTuts+ comes out. I might a couple tutorials for that.

      Woot Envato

    • It’s hard for me to take an “Anonymous” too seriously. Seems trollish to me…

      Why are you “not impressed”?

    • robi
      Permalink to comment#

      your comment is beyond words^^…how the f* do you know this site here (css-tricks) but you don`t know any of the envato-network sites???

    • Carlo
      Permalink to comment#

      No need to stress over that anonymous trash talker, its obvious the retard just want a lil attention for being first to comment, and he ain’t impressed that his frivolous skills if any are blown away by our’s truly Rock-Star Main Man Collis.
      Im gonna tweet this and sileep… http://www.twitter.com/carlolee

  2. Short and sweet interview! I’ve been following Collis and the Envato sites for some time, and I love it!

  3. nice interview Collis, it was good read. I do hope Google gets you to do a couple themes for them, I’d surely use them! Your design work is very nice on the eye…

  4. Palusko
    Permalink to comment#

    I am a paid member of psd tuts and I just love their Photoshop tutorials. Their net tuts are not too bad either and I hope their flash tuts will gain more ground soon. And when the CG tuts will take place, i will certainly rejoice as 3D is one of my passions. Overall, I am Collis’s happy customer and it was nice to read about the man behind it all. Nice little interview, thanks Chris.

  5. Permalink to comment#

    Great interview. Collis has definitely accomplished a lot, definitely someone a lot of us would like to emulate.

    thanks for another great interview Chris, some great quality stuff so far :). Looking forward to the rest.

    mary

  6. Permalink to comment#

    Loved the interview! Thanks Chris. Yourself and Collis are the two main people I follow on the internet. You’re right, he’s the guy everyone kind of wants to be.

    Would love to see a gmail theme from Collis!

  7. Great interview questions Chris. I, like hundreds of thousands of others, am enamored with the Envato network of websites. Everything Collis and his team touch seem to turn to gold. Collis definitely has the keen eye for design and has really paved the way for some of the best design on the web. I look forward to seeing what other areas they expand in to, and would love the chance to work with them one day.

  8. Permalink to comment#

    Awesome company. I’m a fan of his work. I’m in the middle of reading The Four Hour Workweek right now :]

  9. Permalink to comment#

    Nice interview, chris and collis, you both rock!

  10. Cool, always wonderd who was behinf Flash Den

  11. Gavin
    Permalink to comment#

    I love the fact that he never stops, always revisiting or relaunching designs. All the sites have great communities and consistent quality content, this makes them KING.

    Great interview

  12. Love the Envato sites, passive income FTW! Keep up the great work Collis!

  13. He’s Awesome!!! I like his, lets call them, real designs. =]

  14. Permalink to comment#

    thx for the interview! I’m always interested in Collis work – It seams as if he is one who really implemented startup ideas similar to Tim Ferris ideas. Not all of them – but the ones about startup businesses. I dont say he got them from Tim, but they still remind me to Tims.

  15. Wow, that is a nice interview, thanks Chris.

  16. Permalink to comment#

    I’d kill to use a Collis Ta’eed designed Gmail theme.

    *drool.

  17. Permalink to comment#

    Another great interview Chris. Looking forward to the rest!

    Have enjoyed Collis’ sites, always great!

  18. Matt
    Permalink to comment#

    +1 to the Gmail idea.

  19. hehe a great little interview :) Collis and the Envato are plotting world domination, I’m sure of it…

  20. David P.
    Permalink to comment#

    Thanks for the interview. Collis is inspirational — a great designer, entrepeneur, and comes across as a really decent bloke into the bargain.

  21. redouane
    Permalink to comment#

    Long life collis and your familiy.

  22. redouane
    Permalink to comment#

    Without a task list you run the risk of working all day on things that seem like they are benefiting your business, but in the end you’re not focusing your efforts on the right tasks. Considering this what’s your typical to-do-list to a More Productive Workday ?

  23. Excellent. Always interesting to read about the adventures of Collis.

  24. adai
    Permalink to comment#

    His blog bother me most,as I in china can’t watch its video at all.

  25. Permalink to comment#

    I’ll add ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ to my reading list! Thanks for the great interview!

  26. Great Interview, Chris! Thanks!

  27. Amli

    I´ve become a fan of Envato a few weeks ago and it`s great to know about the man behind this great project.

  28. Great interview. I’ve been a Collis fan for a long time.

  29. Hi Chris, thanks for organising this interview. Collis is such an inspiration – both his designs and ability to work and travel anywhere in the world. Collis is my poster boy, especially since he is an Australian like me.

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