Layer 6 from the Reyes/Vit Match.

Layer Tennis How It All Went Down

Backstage With Mig Reyes
& Armin Vit

by Steve Delahoyde

While first match of the day between Mark Weaver and Emory Allen was wrapping up in all its subtle and story-driven glory, the hyperactive, pop-culture meeting between Armin Vit and Mig Reyes was just starting to get crazy. Never knowing what would happen next, the crowd was treated to one incredibly fun and unexpected volley after another. After the match had ended, we got together with Armin and Mark to ask them to wrap their heads around the legendary playoff bout that had just transpired.

Now that you two have been placed on the "Do Not Fly" list as the result of today's match, how do you think it all went?

AV: This was the most unpredictable match I've ever done. Mig really kept making great references and I had no idea where the match was headed.

MR: Definitely agree. It was fun and unpredictable. We didn't have any prep talk about a theme, so with Armin serving, I was ready to play with what he gave me.

I'm not sure if we've ever had such a topical or pop-culture-centric match before. Definitely the first to reference Keanu Reeves, Half Baked, and Glee, among lots of others, all in just 10 volleys. Did you guys discuss that beforehand, going that route, or just happened spontaneously?

MR: I'd like to say that I had planned on bringing in booze, weed and lightning bolts into the match, but really, I think we both just went for it. No plan beforehand, but it seemed like we both wanted to keep it topical and light hearted at the same time.

AV: Totally unplanned, even though I joked backstage that it was all my master plan so that I could drop some Sad Keanu. When Mig used the Half Baked reference, that's when things started to get fun; it was, like, zero degrees of separation.

Along those same lines, the two of you seemed to have great chemistry, both in content and aesthetics. Since you're both Layer Tennis veterans, based on your previous matches, how did this one feel?

AV: Every time I do it, I get more "relaxed" or less stressed about it. But, to be honest, I miss having some of those hardcore jitters, which makes you do silly things.

MR: I think I still have the hardcore jitters that Armin speaks of. I'd like to think I get more relaxed, but each match I always feel ill-prepared. As far as the aesthetic chemistry, I secretly copy all of UnderConsideration's work in nightly design exercises. So.

Ben Greenman is one of the crowds' (and our) favorite commentators. While you're playing but taking a brief breather while your opponent fights through their 15 minutes, does that commentary ever affect your next volley, lending you ideas or maybe influencing where you might go next? How about Twitter comments?

MR: I'm always impressed with how the commentators tell a (hilarious) story that I don't even realize I help create while playing each match. For me, it puts some pressure to give them something good to write about. As for Twitter, I try not to read it while playing. Too distracting.

AV: I love reading Ben's commentary while I wait. It keeps me going and it's almost like I'm playing for him too, to give him something that he can then use to make look funnier. I do follow the Tweets live. But I'm a masochist.

Armin, your logo for the Layer Tennis Security Administration was a thing of beauty. Was that a callback to your rebranding match earlier in the season against Matt Stevens? And what government authority do you think the LYTSA reports to?

AV: Yes, definitely a nod to the Matt Stevens match. I had too much fun coming up with fake logos. LYTSA is part of the RDUFTHA (Rendering Designers Useless for Two Hours Agency).

MR: I can't comment on LYTSA. I'm always running from them.

Mig, you made a bold move in Layer 8 by bringing back the look of the first two volleys. What was the thinking there?

MR: I really liked the layout, and I thought it'd be a good way to twist the story around. Familiar scenery, different plot.

Since we're usually only talking to one person in these interviews, let me ask the two of you about your process of working with each others files. Can you walk us through your steps of checking out the new set of layers you've been given, breaking it apart, etc?

AV: I don't really check it. I keep everything turned on, open a new layer and then drag whatever I will recycle from his file. But you can't spend any time admiring the other's layer-stacking abilities.

MR: But Armin, I named all my layers nicely for you this round. I must have spent a good minute making sure there was no "Layer 02 copy 14" dammit. But yes, I make new files and just drag the layers I need. Keeps file size down, and upload times fast.

Do you ever make the layers' folder structure intentionally tricky to throw your opponent off? Or give the layers weird names? (hopefully I'm not giving both you and future players here insidious ideas with this question)

MR: Oh yeah. I thought it would be my competitive advantage against Jessica Hische. See this screen grab. Turns out, it didn't really work.

AV: That's a great insidious idea! I rarely name my layers to begin with, I can't fathom adding that to the pressure of the game.

Any favorite volley by your opponent?

AV: Super Freak. It had the "I wish I had done that" element to it.

MR: The serve. It has everything: a hot logo, beautifully typeset form, and of course, a gloved hand.

For new, up-and-coming designers looking admiringly at that photo of you two titans industry in Layer 10, would you say your primary recommendation to them in furthering their career is to wear plaid shirts? Is it because they're so grid-like?

MR: Depends on the season. That photo was taken in the summer, where a loose fitting plaid (often with no t-shirt under) is acceptable. Now that we're in the fall, I'd recommend a more fit button-up with an even simpler pattern. No plaid, checkers are acceptable. If you're going out to a lecture during the evening, be sure to tuck it in and wear a slim tie.

AV: I'm wearing white pants right now. Post-Labor Day fashion rules be damned.

Thanks a million for duking it out this afternoon.

MR: It's one thing to admire someone, their body of work and all their accomplishments. It's another thing to share the stage with them in a round of Layer Tennis; something I'd never thought I'd do. Thanks, Armin! It's been an honor and pleasure.

AV: Aaaaw!

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Congratulations to Mig Reyes, Layer Tennis Season 3 Champion. jc-12.20

Thanks to all the players, commentators and fans who made Season Three of Layer Tennis a big success. And thanks to the crew at Goodby Silverstein & Partners and all the folks at Adobe Creative Suite for making it possible. Watch this space (or sign up for Season Tickets or follow us on Twitter) for news about some special exhibition matches being planned and about Season 4. jc-12.20

Cast your votes on The Championship Match. Both Finalists will receive invitations to play in the post-season tournament for Season Four. jc-12.17

Here's how the voting works. Decide who you'd like to declare as winner and then simply tweet their first name following a hash mark. Either #mig or #noper and, this is important, also include #lyt in that tweet. We'll leave the voting open all weekend and announce our Season Three Champion on Monday. jc-12.12

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