Season 1, Episode 10

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This is a transcript of one episode of the Samsung Developers Podcast, hosted by and produced by Tony Morelan. All episodes of the podcast can be found at Buzzsprout. A listing of all podcast transcripts can be found here.


Host

Tony Morelan Senior Developer Evangelist, Samsung Developers

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Guest

Chris Shomo Infinity Watchfaces

In this episode of POW, I interview Chris Shomo from Infinity Watchfaces. Chris was one of the first designers to start selling watch faces on Galaxy Store and has become a very successful app designer. Along the way he has inspired many other designers to start creating for Samsung with his willingness to share his knowledge and expertise.

Listen to this episode on Buzzsprout.

 

Topics Covered


Transcript

NOTE: Transcripts are provided by an automated service and reviewed by the Samsung Developers web team. Inaccuracies from the transcription process do occur, so please refer to the audio if you are in doubt about the transcript.

 

Tony Morelan 0:02

Hey, I'm Tony Morelan and this is POW! Podcast of wisdom from the Samsung Developer Program where we talk about the latest tech, trends and give insight into all of the opportunities available for developers looking to create for Samsung. On today's show, I interview Chris Shomo from Infinity Watch Faces. Chris was one of the first designers to start selling watch faces on the Galaxy store and has become one of the most successful along the way. He's inspired many other designers to start creating for Samsung with his willingness to share his knowledge and expertise. In fact, it was a video I saw of Chris who inspired me to start designing watch faces, which eventually led me to my gig at Samsung. So it is an absolute honor to bring him on to the podcast. And let me warn you Chris, and I'd love to talk and sometimes we go off on a few tangents, talking about how his house was not only featured in an episode of ghost hunters, but was also used in a big time Hollywood movie. And of course we talk a lot about designing and marketing apps for Samsung enjoy.

Tony Morelan 0:58

I am super excited to Have on the podcast today Chris Shomo from Infinity Watch Faces. So let me first actually start by asking who is Chris Shomo?

Chris Shomo 1:05

Hey, Tony, thank you so much for having me on the show. Who is Chris Sharma I'm, I'm a lot of things. I am a designer, which you know, initially, you know, when someone is a designer, they can be quirky, they can be geeky, sometimes they can be introverted sometimes or they can be outgoing. It depends on my mood and the time of day, I can be a little bit of everything. So, but you know, I can be the shy person in the room, but you get me talking about something that I'm interested in, and then sometimes you can't get me to shut up. So I can absolutely relate to that, that you've pretty much have described my personality. Definitely, you know, being a fellow designer, and that's why I'm really excited about this podcast is that we can kind of geek out a bit as we're talking design. Cool. So how did you first get your start in graphic design? Oh, geez. Well, I guess it goes all the way back to when I was a little kid. My mom always had me doing artistic projects for school. Actually, I would always find a way to make some sort of artistic project if I could for homework, I would always go to the art route. It was a lot more fun. And then in high school, I did a project. It was a pennant drawing of the Shakespeare Globe Theater. And I did it for an English class. And I decided to take an art class as an elective. and Mrs. Martin, my art teacher in high school, she asked for some examples of my previous work. And out of my bookbag, I took out a folded piece of paper and then I just like unfolded it to this, this gigantic poster size of the Shakespeare Globe Theater it was that that artistic drawing I did, and then she said, okay, lesson number one, do not fold up your artwork. So, that's how I kind of got started and that drawing was pretty awesome. And she Kind of excelled me through she put me into the higher level art classes real quick. They kind of skipped me a couple classes. And I want a lot of awards against other students and some regional awards in the area. And then afterwards, I decided to go to art school and my brother discovered the Savannah College of Art and Design down Savannah, Georgia and yes, so yeah, I attended there. Wow. So for a good while to almost like a van Wilder experience but multiple degrees.

Tony Morelan 3:33

Wonderful. Again, I could relate to that. I definitely took the long route through college. So straight out of college, then did you work for a large company? Did you start your own your own gig? What did you What was your first step coming out of college?

Chris Shomo 3:46

Okay, well, I graduated with my undergrad in computer art with a focus on 3d animation. And that was in 2005. And right after the I interviewed for some companies, and I just really did not want to be stuck in a cubicle, just you know, for the jobs that I was offered. So I ended up taking a job for a contractor and helping build a house from ground up. Oh, wow. And after that, I decided I was interested in architecture. And I put together a portfolio and SCAD gave me a portfolio scholarship to come back. And they paid for the masters and I got my masters in architecture.

Tony Morelan 4:21

Wow. I did not know that.

Chris Shomo 4:23

Yeah. So and of many secrets, I guess, some hidden talents there. But I did graduate after the economy crashed, and it was really hard to find a job in architecture. So I started a website design company. And from there, I just kind of, you know, word of mouth. I just kept on gaining clients until eventually I had clients all across the East Coast. So you went to school in Savannah, Georgia. Are you currently in Savannah? Is that where your offices based out of? Yes, Savannah is where my heart is. I love the city and I'm Actually president of the neighborhood association for the neighborhood that I'm in, and it's one of the largest neighborhoods in Savannah. Okay. And Southern Living magazine actually ranked the number one neighborhood to live in in the south as well. Right before all the craziness This year, we got that nation. Sure. So it is quite interesting because it there's so many local businesses and residential neighborhoods in this neighborhood. So just dealing with everything from alcohol licenses and giving our blessing and, you know, zoning issues and, you know, just figuring out what's going on with crosswalks and trash cans and all that kind of stuff. You know, it's interesting.

Tony Morelan 5:40

So I actually heard a very interesting note about not just the neighborhood but the house that you live in. Yes, you once told me that it is actually haunted.

Chris Shomo 5:50

It is haunted and it's documented on a ghost hunters’ episode. I believe it's 2010. Home is where the heart is. Okay. Yeah, it's all about the current A family that was living there and their experiences with a ghost. They say they've seen this ghost this little girl. Apparently, her name is Tony Clark. And she's been appearing. I guess for the past hour. Well, the previous owner salt or 200 times. That's what they said 200 or more times, and Ghost Hunters did believe that there were dual entities in the house as well. Think. Okay, well, Monique Clark. She is the daughter of the guy who built the house back in 1896. And he owned a lumber mill. And he inherited this lumber mill from his father when he was 26 years old. And he built a house known he was one of his daughters. And apparently, she was one of the first women to receive a pacemaker for her heart. And that led to her dying somehow. I don't know what happened to it. But she died when she was in her 50s but supposedly she's coming back is like a 12 year old girl I've never seen I've had some strange things happen in the house door slamming things disappearing from one place appearing in another place. Not my imagination. Other people have experienced things too. But how she was identified is that the lady across the street had apparently, I recognize the description of the nightgown that she appeared in because she had made that night gown for her when she was young. So getting a little cold chills thinking about it right now. But it is interesting, but yeah, I don't feel scared in the house. I think the house accepts me. I have never had to smudge it or whatever you call it or you know, try to clear spirits out of there. But it's an interesting story and it's always fun when somebody else experiences something.

Tony Morelan 7:46

Oh, that is absolutely wild to hear. You know, and we'll circle back to the whole aspect of design in this podcast. I will note before I'm going to jump ahead just a little bit. Your designs have a little bit of a quirkiness to it. And sometimes I'm seeing, you know, ghosts and aliens and the crazy thing. So I think that may be where you're getting some of your inspiration.

Chris Shomo 8:08

Yeah. Well, I mean, you live in a dynamic city, it's actually one of the most haunted cities in America. Sure. You know, and it's one of the most wild cities in America too. I mean, you have this, this local field, but then, at the same time, you know, it's one of the few places in America where you have an Open Cup, and, you know, take a drink from one bar to another downtown. So it leads to a little bit of craziness. But I myself pride myself in being a little crazy, you know, you have to be in this crazy world. And I love surprising people with designs to light like one second. Yeah, you'll have a butterfly that looks realistic landing on your, on your watch. And then the next moment, you know, you have some zombies that are appearing with your step, go biohazard z.

Tony Morelan 8:57

That's a great one. Yeah, definitely. So we were fortunate actually to come out and visit you at Savannah College of Art and Design where we came in hosted a session with your students, teaching them all about theme designing for phones and watch faces. And that connection actually came through you. So that was my opportunity to come out to Savannah and get to meet you in person. What a beautiful city. I mean, it really in the campus itself to is pretty unique because from what I understand Savannah College of Art and Design, they're like the number one occupancy of buildings in downtown Is that correct? I mean, as far as the campuses is put together,

Chris Shomo 9:32

yeah, it seems like it's every other building. And it's really amazing what they've done for Savannah. They encouraged a lot of businesses to move in as well to cater to the students and they really played a huge role in where Savannah is today. You know, we get millions and millions of visitors every single year and schools to thank for a lot of that, you know, just the restoration projects and encouraging restoration and then of course, we have a great hit. Preservation Society alone just in Savannah being the oldest plant city in America, and in a genius plan to just how it integrates with all the giant oak trees that are in all the squares and people are really jealous of those, those oak trees and, you know, as a person living there, I always try to make sure that I go out and I do what the visitors do, just to remind myself, you know, what a beautiful city it is. And then, you know, just going to school in those historic buildings as well. It just it helps with the creativity. And yeah, the location definitely helps with the whole artistic side of things.

Tony Morelan 10:39

Yes, and for those who don't know, Savannah is actually the city where they filmed the scene of Forrest Gump on the bench. Yep, that iconic moment in Forrest Gump where he's sitting on that bench that was in Savannah at one of the squares I actually walked by that to take a look at that for myself. Just an amazing city.

Chris Shomo 11:00

And it's actually known for a lot of movies as well. Like the lady in the tramp that's on Disney plus that was filmed. They actually looked at my house to potentially film it there. But they said that the lot was too big. So they actually filmed it a few blocks down. And yeah, and then also, my house is where the movie Legend of Bagger Vance was filmed. There's a scene where it's where the little kid lives the caddy and there's a whole scene at the dinner table where they're, they're talking and stuff. That's my dining room. Oh, wow. It was one of the houses the few houses around there that had a dining room with a view to the kitchen as well. And they needed that for the scene. So Robert Redford picked out the wallpaper. It's kind of cool.

Tony Morelan 11:47

absolutely crazy. Yeah. Oh, wow. I knew this podcast would be fun, but I have no idea. So let's circle back around. And let's talk a little bit about design. Okay, tell me how you first heard about the sample. galaxy watch.

Chris Shomo 12:00

Okay, well, I'm a tech geek. I love any type of mobile tech, especially before the watches came out on I was like a cell phone fanatic. Like, you know, first we wanted them to get small and now they're getting bigger. Yes. Now we need the biggest phone ever, which I absolutely love. But I was eyeing smartwatches for a while. And finally I was like, Okay, I'm getting one. At the time. I'm like, I couldn't really afford it. But you know, I don't care. I'm getting one. So I went down to the Best Buy and I got the first Gear S to sport. I just loved it. It was great. But there was one thing that bothered me. I needed more watch faces. I was bored with the watch faces that were available and went on the it was galaxy apps before but now the galaxy store and you know, I even paid like I think it was like five or $10 for a watch face. It looked like the coolest one out there. Then like, Alright, how do I make my own? So that's when I just googled and I found it was the galaxy watch designer. Well, at the time, it was the gear watch designer 1.0. Wow. And, like, right when it first came out, I mean, I think I might have actually caught it within days of it coming out. And I downloaded it, and I just started playing around with it. And I never even planned on releasing any of them for anybody else. I just, you know, wanted to make some for me. And then I'm like, Alright, look, I can, I can load some and see if I can make a few dollars. Let's do it. So I think I made like $17 off of two watch faces the first day and then I'm just thinking to myself, like, you know, what if I have like 300 watch faces on there, you know, how much how much can I make her? So I mean, sure enough now. Gosh, I have about 394 watch faces and themes published. Wow, that's amazing. And how long would you say this has been? Oh gosh. I started in I think it was February, early February of 2016. Okay, so when I started, and you can actually kind of look back at some of my very early designs, and see how the design has improved over time. Sure. The very first one that I did, I just called it gear spin. And I didn't really know much about the designer, the software and everything I was just getting into, it didn't really think that I could even put a graphic on, you know, a watch hand and use it other than a watch hand at the time. So I even animated a gear using Adobe Flash exported the frame animations out and threw it in there just to get a gear spinning. Sure. Now, I'll just put it on a second hand. But I'm thinking coming from a designing standpoint, not a watch standpoint. And, and that's something that you that you really have to start doing it start thinking, you know, I'm also a watchmaker in a way. Exactly, you know, so you got to start thinking, that language and that starts you know, meshing with the creative ideas. And then you start, you know, you got to focus on functionality at the same time that you're trying to focus on dynamics and what it looks like, that sort of thing. So

Tony Morelan 15:11

that's true. And you know, I do a lot of teaching to students just learning how to watch design. And the challenges are that they've got this tool that can allow them to just do amazing graphics and amazing animations. And then they forget that really, this is a time piece where people need to quickly tell what time it is. So even though you can have a lot of fun with your graphics in your animation, you still need to make it where you know on quick notice, you can actually tell what time it is. I mean, that's the whole the function of the watch. And that's what I love with your designs as well. I mean, you've got some amazing, fun, quirky, crazy designs. I mean, everything from dogs and butterflies to spooky, eyeballs and Reapers. So let's talk a little bit about your approach to design and some of the tools you're using. You had mentioned Adobe Flash So we're going back in the day. Oh gosh, yeah.

Chris Shomo 16:03

Well, I don't use that anymore. But I used to use that all the time.

Tony Morelan 16:07

So tell me kind of that your workflow, you know, when you know, from concept, your tools, are you sketching on pencil and paper when you have an idea, or do you just dive right into a software program?

Chris Shomo 16:18

Well, I guess this is where professors are going to want to smack me and I should be sketching more than that. You know, scat always says, you start with the basics, and you start sketching, and I need to carry around a sketchbook. But no, I kind of jump into the software first. But in a way, I kind of sketch digitally. I'll start with a program like Adobe Illustrator, just to get the basic shapes done. And I'll move them into Photoshop, of course, to get the nice effects to get the textures, some of the shadows or to create the shadow layers that you'll export separately later. You know, those are our two the main tools of getting I guess, the framework of the of the watch, but of course, I like To do animations, so using a lot of After Effects and premiere, and sometimes when I have to Maya and all that kind of stuff, and then you know, getting it out to the, the frames, and also being very cautious about file size as well. You know, we are dealing essentially with an app, even though it's very focused around design, which I'm very thankful Thank you Samsung for giving me awesome design software, where I don't have to code everything. But, but you do have to remember that, you know, people will get frustrated if you have a, you know, a 50 megabyte watch face, which I mean, I could easily make one that large. But it's all about understanding the compression and understanding your tools to make sure that when you deliver that watch face, it's fine, it's dynamic, it has all the effects but it doesn't take forever to install or it doesn't, you know, someone doesn't have an issue with it. So understanding the technical side but really understand or design software

Tony Morelan 18:02

that helps, you know, and you had mentioned a little trick that I may have actually learned from you in that where you had said that you know, your first animation was done using flash and bringing those in as animated GIFs. But you then said, Hey, I could have just made this a watch hand. And that's one of those tricks that when you realize that watch hands don't actually have to be watch hands. It's the watch and feature is basically just a rotating graphic that you can then set its direction that it rotates, you can set the you know, the time that it rotates. So again, another tip that came from Chris that helped me in my, in my success as a watch face. Designer. And I'm actually going to take this moment to thank you again, because it was your you had mentioned, you started in 2016. I think it was at the developer conference in 2017 that Samsung invited you out to actually Speak at the event was that correct? Yes, that's right. So tell me a little bit about that that experience, because it was after that conference, they posted the video online. And that's how I first learned about designing for Samsung. It was finding this video of Chris Shomo from Infinity Watch Faces speaking at the conference, that then got me excited. So tell me a little about that.

Chris Shomo 19:20

uh, that moment, the whole experience was awesome. At first late, like when you get an email saying, Hey, would you like to come to the Samsung Developers Conference? I'm like, what, at first, I'm just kind of like, Samsung sees me This is cool. You know how to play I'm getting so excited. The experience was great meeting the team was wonderful. And just, you know, the team itself were, you know, the designers of the software, the galaxy watch designer, and all that they were so embracing of everybody that came it was such a wonderful experience. And then also talking with them and understanding, you know, their process and what goes into creating the software. That was amazing too. But I guess one of the, the most awesome and rewarding parts of this is all the designers led you, to me that have come to me, it's just like, just been like, thank you for giving that presentation because you guys showed me that, you know, anybody can do this. And, and, you know, and then if you have some fun and, you know, wonderful designs that people like then then you can really succeed at it as well. And I just I love that. Yeah, that I could influence someone to start a watch face design career. There's another one in particular, that is with USA design. He started a little bit later he was doing some games for the watch. And he was there at the presentation as well. And now he's like one of the top sellers. It's amazing. He jumped into it he founded as a design formula that works really great with the active two, especially when that came out without the bezel at the time, and is doing phenomenal. And I just absolutely love to see that and the fact that I might have played a part in pushing him in that direction is just, it's rewarding. It's humbling. It's, it's cool.

Tony Morelan 21:28

Yeah, no, that's, that's great. It was you know, when I watched that video of your presentation, and you had mentioned, the first thing was that you can create these watch faces without coding. You know, I've done a little bit of coding, but my experience is a lot like yours. I mean, I had my own freelance design company. I did a lot of website designing. But when I learned that you could create these watch faces, really without doing any coding. So it's just such an extension of Photoshop or Illustrator in using like after effects with the timeline. You can have so much fun doing it. You had mentioned earlier little secret again, just like the watch hands rotating how you could actually have buttons that you could tap and reveal things by using a transparent PNG that didn't have any pixels in it, you use that as sort of like a cover button. Well, when I learned about that, I then dove into this whole idea of being able to tap certain areas of the watch and have it reveal new things like, you know, if you wanted to show your step counter, you could tap an icon and it would then show the numbers so you could customize the look of the watch face, cleaning it up by not having all the graphics show, but tapping to reveal whatever sort of data you wanted to see your heart rate beats per minute, I mean, all sorts of different elements. And it was from you the that I learned about that. I then have totally expanded on that. creating videos on tap reveal, that are shown on YouTube and doing a whole thing around that and I've seen that a lot of people really enjoy, you know, learning about that and that again, came from you in that presentation. So thank you a big thank you from the crowd of designers that really appreciate what you've what you've inspired.

Chris Shomo 23:09

Thanks. Yeah, I mean, it's fun. And that all kind of spawned from figuring out a solution to putting all this information on a watch face, but not making it look too busy. And so kind of hiding it and revealing it there, it kind of making use with the tools that are given to you, and how can you make it work to simulate something when you when you don't have all the code underneath it. So

Tony Morelan 23:35

that's great. So we've talked a lot about watch faces. I know you also are doing theme designing. So what was that progression? You first were designing for watches and then learn that you could actually do something very similar with theme studio and creating themes for our phone devices.

Chris Shomo 23:52

Yeah, no, the whole idea is matching your watch face to your theme and having total continuity between the two and for example, the shock theme that one's actually a free one just called shock, you can look it up. That's the most downloaded theme that I have. And it has a matching much face called shock as well. So you just be shocking everybody with the shock. But, but yeah, in those I also like to I like to make fun and exciting something that you wouldn't expect from dancing frogs to lightning bolts to Oh gosh, and I got so many more that are just about to come out. I'm not going to ruin the surprise, but y'all are gonna love them.

Tony Morelan 24:34

Wonderful. I'm looking at your website and the one that jumps out to me is Martian bash. I know it's a great dancing alien you know, how is that is there been a lot of success behind some of these quirky dancing cuz I've seen like Santas dancing and you've got a lot of fun ones.

Chris Shomo 24:48

Well, yeah, because I want to reward people for taking some steps. A lot of these characters that are on there, they change what they're doing based upon step gold percentage. So if you want the aliens dance You're going to have to meet your step goal. So in the morning, he might, you know, he's standing there, he's waving at you. And then as you proceed during the day, he's running one direction and towards you that another direction. And then finally, yeah, he's dancing. Whoo, you just read your step goal. One of the points of these watches is for health and to encourage people to, you know, get out of the chair and you know, move around, and so why not make something that's fun and exciting and encourages that at the same time? That's great. So even the one called bolt that has lightning bolts that go across it starts as like a tiny little bolt and as you proceed through the day with your step, go, more electricity comes out. And I'm getting ready to release another one with a fun little loving alien that does a lot of other stuff to your step goal as well. So that should be fun.

Tony Morelan 25:45

Super excited about that. Tell me watch face designing and theme designing. Is this your full-time gig or do you actually still go back and do some of your website designing or anything beyond design?

Chris Shomo 25:55

Oh, this is actually full part time gig.

Chris Shomo 26:00

Between that and website design and I'm also the CTO and creative director of the picker Joe's brand. You probably heard of antique pickers, vintage pickers, they go around and find really cool stuff and bring it to people. Yes. So yeah, there's a store in Savannah, Georgia called picker Joe's antique mall. And it's 10,000 square feet 25,000 items that change daily, about 65 antique pickers that go out and find all this stuff. We like to say that it's an experience like no other because it really is. We have people that come in from different parts of the world, from across the country, and they go, wow, this is the best antique mall experience that I've ever had. And we've also been on Oh gosh, I don't know how many interviews so far with the same production company that does American pickers. And so they are still considering us possibly for that show. Oh, wow. But, but I designed the branding and do all the advertising and we do crazy videos usually filmed with the latest Samsung phone as well. And if you go to our Instagram if you look at our YouTube and stuff, you'll see some of the, the wild and insane advertisements that we do all the time. And that's one of the things that really sets it apart from other stores. I mean, if you ever heard of an antique store that you know for Halloween has monsters invading us and appearing everywhere and like all sorts of things, No, probably not. But I encourage everybody to check it out. And if you're in Savannah, you've got to experience it. You really did.

Tony Morelan 27:31

Definitely in I can see in your designs you definitely have a lot of fun humor happening I'm looking at the watch face for Joe, Joe's, your character of the dog that seems like his tongue is actually bigger, bigger and then his head and wagging more than his tail. Yep,

Chris Shomo 27:53

yep. And I actually have a dog named Joe. And that's actually what picker Joe's is named after. Do Oh, that's great figure. So he's a jack Russell. And he actually looks very similar to Joe. And he likes all the time. He's always happy and always mischievous as well, too. So, again, he'll react to your step go, he'll, he'll do some fun stuff at 50% as well. So definitely check that out.

Tony Morelan 28:18

So, are you doing all this design work yourself? Or do you have a team of designers that work with you in producing watch faces and themes?

Chris Shomo 28:25

Most of this stuff is just me. But I do have a another a friend and fellow colleague that graduated with me, Jonathan Maillard. He's over in Denver right now. So I do pull him in on tons of different projects. We're working on some right now some interesting apps and hopefully in the very near future, some game designs as well. Oh, that's great. That's great. Yeah, games are a big push for Samsung. So super excited to hear that you're going to bring your brand over to that side and let's produce some amazing games. It's going to be fine. Do you work out of your house? Do you actually have an office space? Okay, I have multiple locations that I can work out of. I definitely have the house set up and with the cool gaming computer and all that kind of stuff. And then we have the office which is actually right above a florist. It's really cool. You can walk up the stairs and you smell roses. Love it. Always say I always get to stop and smell the roses every day. And, and then also working out of picker Joe's as well in the side office there.

Tony Morelan 29:26

So we talk a lot about Savannah. Is that where you were born, or were you born and raised somewhere else?

Chris Shomo 29:33

Born and raised in the mountains of Virginia and Pulaski, Virginia? Oh, wow. Yeah. So a little town called Pulaski it's in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And it's your cool. I guess Mainstreet hometown. Recently it's been hit kind of a little hard from the economy. My master's thesis in school for architecture was actually called the Polanski Institute of Art. design, which was taking the million square feet of the Pulaski furniture plant and change it into a design school, which would in turn, hopefully help the economy and encourage businesses to open up to cater to students. And yeah, that's pretty much what my master's thesis was first seen on my hometown. But then, of course, I moved to Savannah in 2000. And I've been there ever since.

Tony Morelan 30:29

So let's talk a little bit about marketing. I mean, you are definitely one of the most successful designers for Samsung. Tell me some of your tips and tricks when it comes to actually marketing your watch faces in your themes. Are you using social media? Are you doing any additional advertising? What's your what's your approach to marketing?

Chris Shomo 30:49

Okay, so first off, I started out with the website, and just really making sure that it crawled on Google. So I'm always getting some sort of traffic and so either way website at any given moment can get like 200 to 500 hits a day, which, you know, that really helps just get the brand out there

Tony Morelan 31:08

and share the URL.

Chris Shomo 31:10

Oh, it's www.InfinityWatchFaces.com, and also social media, Instagram and Facebook. We used to use Google Plus a lot. It was a big designer community, but of course that's gone. But that has shifted over to the Facebook groups now. And like the Facebook group, that ash with IoT gadgets, runs, it's one of the largest Facebook groups out there. And they have great moderation. Some good people are definitely running it. And it's a great place to really show off your designs and spread the word to everybody and it has just a great following. So I always recommend you know, get on social media and you just scream out your brand's everybody. I actually

Tony Morelan 31:55

interviewed ash IoT gadgets on the podcast nice If you haven't listened to that yet, go back a few episodes. It was a great, great time. He's an excellent interview, great person doing amazing things. And yeah, that Facebook group is huge. It's crazy.

Chris Shomo 32:11

Yeah, it's crazy. It's got to take a lot of time to moderate I'm sure it does. But um, oh, and also on YouTube. We got our favorite watch face reviewer Andrew

Tony Morelan 32:22

Jibber Jab Reviews. Yes. And again, that came out of your presentation. When you spoke at the conference you'd mentioned jibber jabber, and first thing I did when I became a watch-based designer was track jibber jabber reviews down on YouTube. And get him to review some of my watch faces. I have just done a live chat with Andrew, that we published last week. Great interview, he talks a lot about strategies, not only using YouTube, but even beyond YouTube for marketing your app. So and I know you've got a great relationship with Andrew, can I say this? Can I share this? You're helping him with a new website that he's launching. Is that correct?

Chris Shomo 32:59

Yeah. As the website is in the very beginning stages, it's going to grow over time doing some interesting work on pulling his YouTube channel and all over the place. And yeah, it's going to be something you're going to want to visit very often cause he's going to have some cool giveaways and a bunch of other stuff. So, yeah, Andrew is great to work with. And it's interesting, because, you know, in the very beginning, he's tracking down watch face designers to do a review, and now everybody's tracking him down, of course, which is wonderful. But, um, but yeah, he's done a phenomenal job. And he's just, he's very vital to the community. I totally agree. I mean, Andrew is a great guy and a lot of watch face designers owe their success to, to Andrew. So your watch faces and themes have a lot of animation. So I want to ask about Instagram. A lot of times people just post pictures on Instagram. Are you utilizing videos on Instagram? Oh, probably more video than anything else. And a lot of that video is just taking my Galaxy phone and just reading According the watch on my wrist, this is the first thing I want to do actually, as soon as I have a design, like even almost done, it's a work in progress. And it's fun sometimes for your customers to see works in progress to see the early stage and, and all the work that goes into it as well. And you'll find that you'll get a lot of a lot of following on there, which is great. And, and a lot of times customers will, will critique it and you'll end up getting a better design in the very end because they kind of helped with the design process. Ah, that's awesome. I think the first thing I do, of course, is I post on Instagram. And then the next thing I do is I head on over to that large Facebook group. And I started announcing there and, you know, I'll do some, you know, some works in progress, like post and that sort of thing. You know, making sure that I replace that post as opposed to adding another one with, you know, the final, you know, work and just, you know, keep on updating that that sort of thing because you know, everybody's notified at the end Another picture to a post they like. So, yeah, just knowing these little tricks with social media and with Instagram, knowing how to use your hashtags, it's all about hashtags on Instagram, yeah, then you don't have to, to pay. Essentially, we're on Facebook, you know, you might want to, you know, every once in a while, on paid advertise a little bit, sometimes it works. But the main thing is being active with those groups, getting people to recognize your brand and getting repeat customers that also want to share your stuff, too.

Tony Morelan 35:30

And glad you mentioned the hashtags, we actually posted on our site, which is developer samsung.com. If you go to the galaxy store page, we actually posted a long list of valuable hashtags that you can use, whether your marketing your watch faces or your themes or apps or games. So it's a great place to start to go. Take a look at some really good hashtags. That could work

Chris Shomo 35:52

nice. And I just need to give a huge shout out and thank you to everybody with the Samsung Developers program. Because like I've also seen that grow over time and the resources available are just amazing. And it's so helpful. And you guys have Yeah, even great every step along the way. Thank you.

Tony Morelan 36:13

Yeah, no, you're welcome. You're welcome. You know, one of the things that we've done to try and help designers like yourself promote their apps is galaxy store badges, which I know that you use. So a little bit about your experience with that, and where are you using those galaxy store badges?

Chris Shomo 36:31

Well, these badges are great because first they make you look legit. They make you look professional, because they know, you know, it's 100% Hey, this is available on the Galaxy store. And also being able to track the clicks and where people are coming from you can you can make a link specifically for a Facebook promotion and you know, how many people you know clicked on that to participate in that. So how do you know how where to grow unless you know where you stand and that helps you understand this Statistics and where people are coming from. So it's a valuable resource.

Tony Morelan 37:03

What about banner promotions? I love

Chris Shomo 37:06

banner promotions. You will see your best downloads during then that when you have one of those and Ron is great. Yes, yeah, he helps guide you along just making sure that the banner looks great. Definitely everybody needs to take in his comments, everything that he tells you because I mean he, he's saying him for a reason. So he will help your sales.

Tony Morelan 37:29

My biggest success came from a watch face that I had done that was featured on a banner promotion and it was crazy. The amount of downloads and sales that were generated by having that banner promotion so for designers out there, once you've got a collection of strong designs, then you can approach Samsung about being featured on a banner. There is no cost to the banner, but there are a lot of people requesting it. You have to be approved. proved to actually have your designs featured on a banner but definitely worthwhile pursuing for sure.

Chris Shomo 38:07

And make sure that you have your social presence as well and all your Facebook page and Instagram page and all that when you submit for the banner because you know it's going to make you a better candidate for one.

Tony Morelan 38:18

Yes, definitely they actually look at that they want to see previous downloads how much success you've already had. So once you've got some experience, it's definitely worthwhile to at that point to reach out and then apply for a band promotion. Going back to your video, so you do have a lot of animation in your watch faces and your themes and I know you leverage video So talk a bit about YouTube Are you taking like all of these designs each time and posting them on YouTube creating videos to expand your reach?

Chris Shomo 38:44

Most of them the main reason to do the video for me on YouTube is to really have something dynamic to show on the Galaxy store. When someone sees that video after they land on your listing. It really can be the difference as to Whether they're going to buy it or not, and since most of mine offer animations to them, it makes sense to have a video to, to show it off. One thing that I, I wish that the galaxy store had was an animated preview, like on like where the icon is, that was really cool. Because then everybody would be gravitating towards mine and other animated faces instantly. But, but yeah, the YouTube video is what really makes a difference. And there are some watch faces that need to actually go back and make some videos for sometimes you finish the face. And then of course, you're like, Oh, now I have this whole production. I got to make

Tony Morelan 39:35

sure. I totally agree with that. And let me explain a little bit further about what you were talking about creating the video so that people can see it when they're viewing your Galaxy store page. So on the Galaxy store page for a watch app, you have what are called screenshots. And these screenshots show still images of your graphics that you use your marketing graphics. However, there's also a way for you to include a little link to a video on YouTube. So you grab your YouTube URL, place it into your, your application for the, for this app. And the very first screenshot will actually show your YouTube video instead of the still image. So it's a great way for users like you had mentioned, that want to see the motion, they can actually click on that screenshot, and it will launch the YouTube video. So it's a great way to market, you know, motion in your graphics. So you had mentioned that your top theme is a free download. So let's talk a little bit about the approach of offering apps for free because I know a lot of designers utilize the ability to you know, give away their apps and some designers are a little tight with that and they hold on to them and they don't do it. Where do you stand? I mean, are you using this as a marketing tool? Do you just want to like get your brand out there?

Chris Shomo 40:43

Well, it started as a marketing tool, because you know, there's also a free section on the store, and if you don't exist on it, then well, it's just another avenue that people are not going to find you. So you definitely need to make a free one and a good free one too. Just don't pick Your worst design and be like, Oh, I'm just going to make it free. No, no, not at all. It's not going to do any good. So, for example, actually I did a watch face for jibber jabber reviews for Andrew. And that turned into my top downloading free watch face. And that one at one time. Oh my goodness. I think it was downloading like one to 3000 times a day.

Tony Morelan 41:22

Wow. So this is a branded jibber jabber reviews watch face. Yes. So you so I actually remember when he posted his review of that. I didn't realize that you were the designer behind that. That's awesome. Yeah,

Chris Shomo 41:35

but my name snuck on there like a little bit, but I wanted that to be mainly about him. Sure. But yeah, not that one still gets downloaded like hundreds of times a day and stuff. That very solid one and it gets reviews every single day to love it. So having some free faces you can get discovered from people that you would have never discovered you before as well. If you can get your watch face up to, you know, a certain section of the free section, which means it has to be good, essentially. So, having done this now for several years, I'm sure you could face some challenges will first has been just the challenges of, you know, just growing with the software and understanding what you can do and taking advantage of updates to the software, like when the gyroscope became available. And you could use that, oh my gosh, I was so happy when we could do that. Because that just adds a whole new level of dynamics to the watch faces. And so it's really just, you know, learning your tools, but then also encountering that the watch face market has gotten a little bit congested with you know, there's a lot of people, you know, so you definitely have a lot more competition than when I first started out. And, you know, I was just thinking the other day, I was like, wow, if I knew what I knew now, right in the very beginning, would I've been designing more sophisticated watch faces and have like a whole monopoly In the market or something like that, you know, you always think back like, Oh my gosh, but no, no, I grew at a great rate with the software with the other designers. You'll find that a lot of the other designers have become, you know, friends. We all talk with each other. Yeah, we help out each other. But yeah, it's a great community. It really is

Tony Morelan 43:22

talking about some of your favorite designers and who are the designers that you follow that you're inspired by?

Chris Shomo 43:27

Oh gosh, like jeweler broda like oh my gosh. Bergen Of course. Like, those are great. Such clean watch faces. I love those.

Chris Shomo 43:41

md Matteo Dini. Oh my gosh, like a little jealous there. We'll have to say, but, but yeah, he's, um, the those are just a few of some of the amazing designers out there and a lot of great designers and, and again, the main thing is You know, everybody communicating and kind of working with each other? You feel like you are part of the community regularly.

Tony Morelan 44:07

Yeah, that's what I've noticed. I'm not too long ago actually did a podcast interview with Tomas Yes. Check from Vienna studios. Yes. Yes. Great person. Yeah. And he's done some amazing designs. Yeah, he's taken a different approach to watch face descending, where he designs extremely high end, very expensive watch faces that are in the hundreds of dollars. And he is one of our top whitespace designers. I mean, he has found a way to you know, make amazing revenue off of these high-end watch faces. So yeah, I love the community. It's been a lot of fun for me to not only be inspired by them when I was a watch face designer, but now being fortunate to be in a position working at Samsung, I now get to have these conversations and then help out where I can with some of these You know, the rock stars of the watch facing design community.

Chris Shomo 45:04

That's awesome. And I promise you that we all appreciate you too. Thank you so much.

Tony Morelan 45:09

Thank you.

Tony Morelan 45:11

You've used galaxy watch studio for some time. Now, I'm going to ask you, what sort of features Would you like to see added to it? So you'd mentioned about adding animations, maybe as a preview in the galaxy store. But what other features Would you like to see added to the galaxy watch studio,

Chris Shomo 45:26

probably some little nitpicky things. Like being able to start and stop an animation with a click of a button. That would be great to be able to have an animation react while your mobile. For example, if I could have a guy that starts to run while I'm running, that would be cool to Sure. That would even take that Joe watch face to another level, which would be awesome. And then maybe in the future, and I think that someone was talking to me about this, but having the ability to do 3d and be able to put like a 3d mesh in there and have real shadows and that sort of thing. Who knows that that's really thinking into the future, that sort of thing. Sure. And then if we look over to the theme side of things to my main one that I want right now is to have gyroscope action to have parallax effects. I think that would add another dynamic to the theme designs.

Tony Morelan 46:25

Yeah, I love that suggestion.

Chris Shomo 46:27

Yeah. So just, you know, just having like, you know, three to five layers that you could work with that could react with the gyroscope to mess with for like the regular background image. People are looking at their phones, I don't even know how many times a day. So let's make it like the best, most awesome dynamic experience ever. And that would just be great.

Tony Morelan 46:48

That's what I mean wishes for that. You know, and you were the first designer that I saw that truly leverage the gyroscope on the watch, where I can't remember the name of the watch face you had but as you rotated your wrist because of the gyro functionality. These like metallic, big doors just like opened up to then show you know, the like data, you know whether it's the digital clock or heart rate, but it was so cool. I could rotate my wrist and have these metal doors on my watch, paste, you know, collapse or open. So that's how I first learned about the gyro is from your from your watch face design.

Chris Shomo 47:26

Yeah, that as soon as they came out with the gyro is just like, oh, how can I use this to do like, tons of different things. And I was thinking like a cuckoo clock, you know, when it opens up and that sort of thing. So that kind of started at all and trying to think what the first one that I did using that is think it might have been digit glow Spark.

Tony Morelan 47:45

That sounds right. Yeah. So do you have any tips for designers when publishing on the Galaxy store? I mean, we've mentioned a lot about marketing, but when it actually comes to, you know, creating the graphics behind their apps, what sort of tips Could you give people and publishing on the Galaxy store?

Chris Shomo 48:05

Definitely bone up on your Photoshop skills, you got to design those thumbnails, don't just throw, you know, watch on a white background with the watch face on it. Because you really have to grab someone's attention. Talking from my website design experience, on average, you have about three seconds before someone clicks the Back button or continues to read on the website. It's kind of the same thing with watch face listing. You know that you can have written information, everything, people aren't going to read it. They're their visual, they want to look at the thumbnails. And it starts with the icon as well make sure that icons looking good.

Tony Morelan 48:40

That's great. Are you familiar with the tool that I created called the asset creator?

Chris Shomo 48:45

Yes. And I've actually been through it and I've used some of it to create some of my thumbnails and, you know, pulled some stuff out of it and threw some stuff in and that sort of thing. So

Tony Morelan 48:54

that's awesome. Yeah. So super excited. You know, we just announced galaxy watch three. Yes. And so I spent a bit of time recently updating the asset creator to include all of the new watches. For the galaxy watch three I just checked, you can actually go download the new updated version of the asset crater that includes all that that was just published recently. So, in addition to that, I also have created what we call lifestyle photo packs, using the same tools within Photoshop that allow you to use smart objects to quickly copy paste your design into a watch and have the perspective change and have the blurred change so that it truly just simply photoshopped right onto the watch. I am madly working on new photos that show the galaxy watch three. I will be publishing those very, very soon. So super excited. Those have been a big success, a lot of help for people because it's not just showing your watch face on the watch just on a simple straight, you know, top down picture We're actually taking the watch and putting it into a scene. So whether it is, you know, sitting on water drops, or it's on a slab of granite, or you know, some high-tech texture, these are great pictures to help using your screenshots when you're publishing your app. So, look for those new Galaxy watch three lifestyle photo packs coming out. Very, very cool.

Chris Shomo 50:22

I'm excited. And one thing that's cool about that is it allows the customer to relate to the watch and wearing that watch face more by having photos like that. So that that's great. You can get your customer to relate to your product, you're golden, an architecture Professor actually told me one time that a building or a product, any type of product, it is 10% your ideas and 90% the way you present them. So if you can't present it right then your product is not going to mean anything.

Tony Morelan 50:55

So what is in the future for infinity watch face design. Tell me what can we get excited about? what's happening?

Chris Shomo 51:02

Oh gosh, what is in the future? We got so many things in the future, we're going to have some games come out, you know, break into the, the other part of the app world still continues with wearables Of course, we're going to expand our video production as well. Working on that and Infinity Watch Faces is going to be getting really involved with local businesses really soon, and helping promote their businesses to other local people and visitors. Ever since this whole pandemic, things going on. Local businesses have been hit so hard, we've lost a few in our neighborhood. I just don't want to lose any more. So I'll be going out and you know, just really doing what I can to

Tony Morelan 51:49

help. That's wonderful. Yeah, these are definitely challenging times. You know, it's been a while now that we've all kind of been in this sort of lockdown. And we've realized the effects that this has really had on our economy, it's also been an opportunity for us to try and find new ways to, you know, to still do the work that we do and in the reach that we do. So it's nice to hear that you're, you know, finding ways to sort of help out in all of that aspect. So, going back to the fun designs that you create, I need to ask you right now, which if you have to pick one, and then you've got 390 Plus, I want you to pick one design, what is your current favorite?

Chris Shomo 52:36

I know this is going to sound a little goofy, maybe a little girly. The butterfly named Fred. Love. It's not very I think because the way the flowers interact with your wrist and then that that butterfly just landing perfectly right there on it every single time. It makes me happy and the dude's name is Fred come like Fred butterfly.

Tony Morelan 52:59

How did you come up? Fred for the butterfly,

Chris Shomo 53:02

I don't know. I was just kind of looking at an insect one day and I named an insect Fred and then I was like, Ah, this butterfly should be named Fred. Now, I mean, I could have called it something like beautiful butterfly or blue butterfly or you know, just some sort of whatever name but let's give him an actual name. And let's make a character out of this. Yeah. Wow, that is a great story. I'm going to close this podcast though by asking What does Chris Sharma do for fun when you're not designing these wild themes and wild watch faces? Oh, I live in the city of fun. I mean, just going around and you know, going to experience the different restaurants and just the atmosphere. In the summertime, I guess staying indoors more because it's so hot and humid down there. Someone asked me one time what's it like living in the south during all this heat because like Just the other day that heat index was like 105 degrees. That's of course, when you combine the humidity and the actual temperature, that's what it feels like. And I told him when I was like, Alright, take the hottest shower that you can now get out of the shower, do not dry off and put your clothes on. That's what it feels like. Oh, so it's a sauna out there.

Tony Morelan 54:22

That's crazy. You know, and I will say I have to share. We've had to reschedule this interview numerous times, because there was a hurricane going through Savannah and you were losing your internet connection. So yeah, living in the south, I think definitely has a lot of excitement.

Chris Shomo 54:37

Well, the hurricane is actually one of the normal things for 2020.

Chris Shomo 54:43

We were very fortunate that the hurricane mainly missed us we got some wind from the outer bands. And locally, my internet was like, it was all over the place. We didn't have it and we had a flood Yeah, it's just something that we got to deal with. But I'm glad we were fine. Hazleton connect and get this interview done.

Tony Morelan 55:03

Yeah, this is great. This has been a lot of fun. So Chris, thank you very much for joining the podcast much access to you at Infinity Watch Faces and looking forward to all the great new designs. I know they're going to be coming down the road for us. So thanks again.

Chris Shomo 55:15

Thank you, Tony. And thank you, Samsung, you guys are awesome.


Outro 55:18

Looking to start creating for Samsung, download the latest tools to code your next app, or get software for designing apps without coding at all. Sell your apps to the world on the Samsung Galaxy store. Check out developer samsung.com today and start your journey with Samsung.

The Pow! Podcast is brought to you by the Samsung developer program and produced by Tony Morelan.