Today's interview is with Justin Edmund. He has an afro.
But wait there's more. Justin is a product designer at Pinterest! How cool is that? Mr. Edmund is a really talented designer all around and has done some sweet work on his site.
Here is on of his projects that I really enjoyed:
Here are my 5 questions with Justin.
How did you get into design?
I went to a performing arts high school as a vocal music major, but all of my friends were fine arts majors. We all did comic book illustration in our free time—myself included, except I was quite shoddy at it. My friends all used deviantArt, which I thought was a less-than-satisfactory way to show your work; you don't get to express yourself through deviantArt because there are no templating features. In hindsight, it's obvious that I was thinking about "brand"—I didn't even know what "brand" was in high school. My friends wouldn't learn HTML, so I did. One-by-one I designed and built websites for them, and that's kind of how I started. When I applied to universities, I applied for graphic design and illustration programs, because web design was still really young and there were no programs yet.
What is it like working for Pinterest?
Working for Pinterest is really fun. I've been at the company for almost two years now, and it's been really exciting to see the company grow from eight of us in a Palo Alto living room to over one-hundred people in our new San Francisco office. I've gotten to touch pretty much every part of a product that's used by millions of people worldwide every day. That's pretty magical. I'm extraordinarily lucky.
In the past, we've done lots of design exercises with engineers and non-technical parts of the team in order to help define the problem we're trying to solve and come up with a direction together, instead of a designer sitting in a room in isolation—we call this Knitting. It's an integral part to how our company runs and it gives everyone a real sense of ownership over Pinterest the product—after all, we're all building it together.
Although you only worked briefly at Facebook, which do you prefer, Pinterest or Facebook?
This is a hard question. I was only at Facebook for three months, so it's probably only fair to compare my first three months at Pinterest to that time. It was pretty rocky in both cases.
I have to say though that I enjoyed my first three months of Pinterest more. The site was breaking every day and everyone was scrambling madly to get things running again, but every day at Pinterest was fun. There were so few people that I got to know everyone really well, and we joked around a lot and really just focused on building this thing that we loved, every single day. It might have been the shock of being at such a big company, but I remember being very stressed at Facebook all the time. The fun days, however, were REALLY fun there, and the culture was a lot more developed when I got there. At Pinterest, I had to work with the rest of the team to build a culture, which is pretty fun too, but also hard work.
What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
I'm going to be launching my side project, Foundation (build.onfoundation.com) this summer with a couple of my friends. It is the realization of all the problems I had with deviantArt in high school, and later Behance and other portfolio platforms throughout college. It is kind of my life's work so far—I've been thinking about how to solve these problems for six or seven years now, and I think I've finally figured it out. I'm really excited (and frightened) to see what people think of it!
What can we expect from you in the future?
There's a lot of really exciting Pinterest things in the pipeline, so you should keep your eyes peeled for those!
The point to me is: "education is about inspiring ones mind, not just filling their head."
An answer by one of my recent interviewees sparked some activity in my vacationing mind this spring break. Here is the question and answer:
Q. IF YOU WERE THE HEAD OF APPLE FOR ONE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
A. I would raise the wages of all employees, lower the prices of products like the iPad and Mac, and create something groundbreaking! It has been far too long since Apple has come out with a truly revolutionary product.
So I asked myself: What does it mean to be groundbreaking.
Groundbreaking in its most literal form is an adjective for something that breaks the ground. This term is most commonly used figuratively to describe a noun (person, place, thing or idea) that is innovative and has the power to change its "general sphere."
Here is one great example:
Michael Jordan in my mind and many others is the best basketball player that has ever lived. Michael was truly groundbreaking, or really "ground-avoiding" with his high flying dunks that mesmerized fans and opponents alike. He won the scoring champion title 10 times, averaging 30.1 points per game. No one has come close to this record. He along with other players like Scottie Pippin, and an amazing coach, Phil Jackson, won 6 NBA championships. Not only that but he, along with Nike, really created the trend of athlete apparel with Air Jordan.
Now let's relate this back to the topic in question: Apple.
Apple is responsible for many groundbreaking technology products of my time. Some(myself) would call them the Chicago Bulls of the tech industry. A star player(iPhone), an outstanding supporting cast (Mac, iPad, iPod), and a fearless, meditative leader with more passion than anyone else (Tim Cook). What is Apple's Jordan shoe? I would say the iPod but that is up for debate.
Both of these organizations are undoubtedly innovative, and groundbreaking.
But this is what I have come to find:
When you are a revolutionary, you are "off your game" if you perform averagely. (Or only above-averagely.) And your are "no longer great" if you are not groundbreaking day after day.
Whenever Michael would have an off night (20 points or so), all the non-belivers, the critics, would speculate that Michael was finally coming down from his unreachable performance tower. Even after his extraordinary career people tried to say that it was trash talking that won him games.
People all over school know me as the tech/Apple guy. Whenever they feel so inclined to search Apple in Google News many of the articles that appear talk about how Apple is on it's way out. They then come to me with their screen blazing, and say, "Hey looks like your beloved Apple is losing to this new Galaxy thing." I simply respond by saying, "Hey that's interesting, and by the way nice iPhone."
The general public likes to see success but more than that, unfortunately, they love to see failure. That's why everyone secretly hoped that the "flu" could stop MJ, or hopes that the Samsung Galaxy S-Whatever will bring the iPhone to its knees. But just like MJ scored 38 points against the Jazz that fateful night, the groundbreaker that is Apple will see another day.
Now I will be the first to admit that the king cannot reign forever but trust me, Apple's wonderful rule is not over yet. Sure the competition is quicker, stronger, but no one is Apple just like no one is MJ.
And when the time comes for a groundbreaker to leave their stage, they always do it with a bang. Believe me Apple will do the same.
Today's interview is with someone I did not know existed until a little less than a month ago. But this should not discredit young Eli Frank. Eli is a fellow member of the "young kids club," and is a 14-year-older like me. He is also the second youngest person I have interviewed on instantbight(the youngest being Anim Ward). Eli writes his own blog as well.
If Eli had two describe himself in 5 words they would be: Techie. Funny. Hardworking. Perfectionist. Happy.
How did you get into design, the web, and technology in general?
I've been interested in interior design and architecture since I was about 8 or 9. Only in the past year have I become interested in web design and development. I got my first piece of technology- a GameBoy- when I was 10 years old, and I have been online ever since! A few years after, I bought my first iPhone, then an iPad, and then a Mac.
What is your favorite school class? Why?
That's tough. I would have to say a tie between social studies and english. Social studies because I love history and seeing how society and civilizations have evolved over time. English because I love to read and write!
If you were the head of Apple for one day, what would you do?
I would raise the wages of all employees, lower the prices of products like the iPad and Mac, and create something groundbreaking! It has been far too long since Apple has come out with a truly revolutionary product.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I hope to do get a lot more into web design and design in general, learn more HTML/CSS, learn new programming languages, continue to update/redesign my site, start some side projects, do a lot more writing on my blog (elifrank.com) and across the web. I would also like to start interning and doing freelance web design work in a few years.
If you could travel to the future, what would your future self be like/doing?
I would still be a total techie and geek, and I would probably be living in New York City or San Francisco working as a web designer, teacher, or working for a small technology based startup/company.