Interview with Alex Gordon Cowles of

[GfxD] What is your REAL name?
[AGC] Well My full name is Alex Gordon Cowles, but Alex will do just nicely.

What is your date of birth (day/month/year)?
Born on 7th August 1983.

Where are you from - tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born, and brought up in Scotland. In a town called Currie, just outside Edinburgh. Got through, primary and secondary school there, and now I'm studying Computer Arts at University in Dundee, which is about 60 miles north of Edinburgh.

Describe briefly a typical day that you go through?
Well it depends on classes. If I don't have classes, then generally I'll wake up about 2pm, and grab something edible. Following that, I'll either pop into town, for a wander, or go see a buddy. After spending way too much a) money b) time, or c) money and time, I'll head back to the flat. The evening is one of two things. A night in at the PC, or a night out drinking. Both end up with me going to be about 4am.

What is your nickname/handle and what's the story behind it?
Well most people know me by the nick 'Grafyte'. I'm not entirely sure about how it started. A few years ago, I was impressed by the originality of everyone's nicks, and, so I waited for some inspiration to hit me, and came up with Grafyte. I guess it ties in with what my site was originally for, which was showcasing my graffiti work.

What is the name and address of your website?
Grafyte Studios -

Is this your first website? And how long have you had it for?
Um... I think this is probably about the 27th website I've had. All the sites previous to this one though, have been rather worthless, and were purely experiments for my own designing, usually getting either removed due to lack of server space, or archived for nostalgia. I've had the site for around a year and a half now, and I think I'm on version 17.

Do you have any other sites that we should know about/be on the look out for in the future?
Well there are sites that I have designed for clients, but as far as ones that I am running, there are none other at the moment. I'm considering a separate website for the poetry work that I do, but currently it's just got its own little page on my existing site. I experimented with a stock photography site, for a little while, but I didn't get a great deal of feedback, so it was scrapped.

Do you design and create all of your art/images/layouts?
Yes. All the artwork, graffiti and layouts featured on my site are created by me. As far as the images I use, I would say that most of them are my own, and the rest are ones I've found on stock-imagery sites. When it comes to designing a layout for the site, I almost always have an idea in my head, or in a sketchbook, that I've done earlier but with images, I tend to start with an image I like, and just go with it, experimenting along the way.

What programs do you use to create your work?
Most of my image work is done in Photoshop 6. I used to be a dedicated Paint Shop Pro user, but we began to use Photoshop at University, so I slowly switched over, and although PSP was great, and easy to use, now that I have become competent with Photoshop it's made a world of difference. I've started doing some 3D work in Bryce now. It's slowly getting better, but at the moment, it's still a little sketchy, and most of the 3D images are imported to Photoshop for a lot of post processing. As far as putting together my sites, I'm a big fan of Front Page. I've tried Dreamweaver with success, but I feel more comfortable with Front Page.

When designing do you use plug-ins and filters and if so what are they?
I like to steer away from plug-ins and filters as much as possible. If I want an effect, I always try to get it in a more conventional way, then there's more flexibility over styles and colours etc.

Do you use programming languages on your site such as ASP, PHP, CGI etc.? If so, tell us how you learnt them?
Generally I stick to static HTML. I've dabbled with a little cgi, for shoutboxes and a forum, but right now, it's more than I can handle. With any luck, there will be a module I can take sometime next year where I can learn a little more, but I'm happy with what I can get when I'm not using programming code.

What type of content do you have on your website?
Currently I have both 2D and 3D artwork, poetry, graffiti work and up until the last version I had the projects I had completed and was working on as well. On top of that, there are now tutorials and Photoshop brushes. I'd like to start offering more resources and advice to visitors.

What's your site's traffic levels like? Give us your average hits/visits statistics?
It's varied by a great deal in the last few months but most of the time I will get between 60 and 100 hits every day. I used to be worried about my visitor levels, but I've stopped bothering about it now. I think that if just a few people can appreciate my work every so often, then it makes me happier. As much as I would enjoy thousands of hits every day, it would take its toll in the way of link requests etc, not to mention the bandwidth limit on my poor little server!

Give a brief description of why we should visit your site? What does it offer?
Well you can learn from my humble tutorials, which I'm always trying to expand, but keep original. There are brushes to add to your artwork, poetry to move you, and images to please the eye. I'd like to think my site was inspiration to some people, but I'm pleased either way.

What is your favorite food?
Anything spicy. Indian, Italian, and anything just a little bit different.

Favorite desert?
I don't really eat a great deal of dessert. If mum's cooking at home, then it's usually something with chocolate and cream.

Favorite videogame?
At the moment, I'm enjoying 'NHL2001' for Playstation 2.

Favorite artist/band and music genre?
Well the list of bands that I enjoy goes on forever. I'm into music in a big way, but I think favourite genres would be anything metal-orientated, Rock and Drum and Bass. Then there's Hip Hop, and Jazz if I want to relax. As far as bands, the best ones include My Vitriol, VAST, Deftones, Electric Soft Parade, Pitty Sing, Nine Days, Third Eye Blind, Dillinja, Grooverider, Total Science, De La Soul and a great deal of Diana Krall.

Favorite color?
Dark blue, with a hint of grey.

What are your Likes?
Well I enjoy being in a relationship. I think that's something that I enjoy the most, but other major things in my life are music, and good friends.

What are your Dislikes?
A pet hate would have to be fingernails. I can't stand spiders either. There are some pretty bad things in life... When you realise you've just locked yourself out the flat. When you realise that there's not enough toilet paper left, and I think the worst is when you sneeze, and you get your hand or arm covered in phlegm and you can't wipe it anywhere or lick it off, because you're in public.

Favorite website(s) you visit besides yours and why?
I spend a lot of time on the message board of a club I used to go to, and I enjoy every once in a while, but most of the time I spend on the internet, is talking to people on MSN, or updating my website.

Who is your host and why have you chose them?
I'm hosted by because I did a bit of shopping around and as far as my first hosts go, I'd say they were the best deal at the time.

Do you make any money from your site?
Not that I know of. I've had the odd bit of cash for designs, but not usually through the site.

Has your site ever been hacked or stolen? If so tell us more:
I was once, very badly ripped by someone on Angelfire, but it didn't bother me because it was so badly done. I made sure it was removed all the same.

How long are you usually online for per day?
Too long. If I have time to waste on a non-classes day, I'll usually be on for 6 hours or more.

Tell us about some of your online activities that you like to do?
Well I usually end up talking complete nonsense to my buddies back home over MSN, and writing screeds and screed of drivel for message boards. I've never been a big gamer, but the odd game of Unreal Tournament never hurt anyone!

Tell us about some of your offline activities that you like to do?
Well mainly drinking, or listening to music, and when possible I like to do both at the same time. Roughly twice a week, I'll go boarding in town, and my friends see a lot of me when I'm back home, whether it's a trip into Edinburgh, or sitting about at someone's house.

What do you think of the Biomutation website?
As far as I can see, the design is excellent. The design work easily surpasses my skills, and the artwork is also impressive. If anything I'd like to see a little more colour.

Closing Remark:
I'd like to thank you for reading, because if I was reading this, I think I'd have got bored of me about halfway down. I'd also like to tell all the people who are just starting out with graphics, and artwork that it may all be uphill, but if you put in the work and the effort then whether you get visits or not, you will eventually become what you want.