Meta Q&A: Erwin Heiser

Lindsay McComb / Posted 4.10.2012

Meta Q&A: Erwin Heiser

Forget everything you know about Belgian ExpressionEngine developers.

Wait, you didn't know anything about Belgian ExpressionEngine developers to begin with? Perfect.

This week, Meta Q&A heads to the Berchem district of Antwerp, Belgium to chat with the talented polyglot (Dutch, English, Spanish, HTML, PHP), Erwin Heiser of StookStudio.

MQ: Tell us about your work in 140 characters or less.

EH: Basically, I design and build websites and I'm the go-to EE guy for a few design agencies. I like clean, minimal design and code.

MQ:How/why did you get into the web industry? Why do you stick with it?

EH: My parents never bought me a Commodore64, which started a life-long fascination with computers.

Truth be told, I got into it because my girlfriend needed a website (it's always for a girl isn't it?). 

At the time I was studying to be a translator (I have a Master's in translation Dutch-English-Spanish), and I thought to myself: Might as well learn HTML, CSS etc… while I'm at it. One thing led to another and by the time I graduated I pretty much was set on continuing my web activities, so I started freelancing straight away and never looked back. 

Working with ExpressionEngine has allowed me to travel and meet some interesting people I wouldn't have met otherwise. It's a constantly evolving industry so it never gets boring. I don't see myself doing anything else for the foreseeable future. If anything, I still have a lot to learn to perfect my craft.

“Try to love what you do and have a good time doing it. Remember you work to live, not live to work.” 

MQ: Why do you use ExpressionEngine?

EH: I used pMachine on my girlfriend's website, so once that evolved into EE I just rolled with it. I soon decided, rather than learning a few CMSs, to focus on EE. I had built a few sites in Wordpress and Textpattern, but I just felt EE had them all beat.

MQ: What was the first EE site you ever worked on? What was that experience like?

EH: My first real one was a trilingual site for a hotel in Mallorca so for me at the time that was a major project. This was before the path variables method that's common these days (or the many multi-language add-ons that keep cropping up), so I used a suggestion from Sue Crocker (a long-standing member of the EE community) and used some PHP in my templates along with segment variables to get it working. It was all pretty basic but it worked like a charm.

MQ: What does a typical workday look like for you?

EH: There's no such thing as a “typical” work day when you freelance. I can spend a day locked in meetings, either through Skype or in real life, spend it coding a layout in CSS/HTML, do an EE set-up, collaborate with a designer etc…

It's the variety that keeps it interesting.

 Belgian shoutouts
 from Erwin:

I want to mention a few fellow countrymen/women who are doing awesome work:

Having this kind of talent in the same small country as yourself really keeps you on your toes.

MQ: How do you stay passionate about your work? What do you do to refocus when you're having a bad day?

EH: If you're not passionate about it, you won't last as a freelancer. Luckily it's pretty easy to be passionate about it because the industry is constantly evolving, so there's something new to learn every day. On a bad day I just switch off and do something else entirely. You have to get away from it all every now and then.

My favorite EE site I worked on is: 

EH: The website for the Walry bookstore because it's been running (and I've been maintaining it) for quite a few years now. The people at the store really consider me one of their crew, so that's nice.

My favorite EE site someone else did is: 

EH: I thought the recently redesigned Focus Lab site was about as perfect as an agency site can get, quite envious of that. 

If I could change one thing about ExpressionEngine it would be:

EH: The update process! That's the one thing where WordPress really shines.

If I had once piece of advice for someone trying to break into the web industry it would be:

EH: I'm pretty sure I'm the last person you'd want advice from, but I'd say build a broad skillset but also try to find your niche, the one thing you excel at. Try to love what you do and have a good time doing it. Remember you work to live, not live to work. 

Visit StookStudio

Check out Erwin's upcoming projects
Lindsay McComb

Lindsay McComb

Writer and Content Specialist at Q Digital Studio

Lindsay McComb is a writer and content specialist at Q Digital Studio. She whips content into shape with her insightful (and keyword rich) edits. She's plugged into the Zeitgeisty things happening on the Interwebs and on most forms of social media. She can be found tweeting on the clock at @themetaq and off-hours at @lindsaymccomb.

Lindsay is a wordsmith with a wicked sense of taste. She's got both AP style and an eye for design. She's also got a serious case of Wanderlust.

She has a BA in Technical Journalism and a BA in International Studies from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.