It’s apparent that you’ve been a great designer for years, but why the recent success?
Good question. I ask myself that all the time! Well the obvious answer is Weightbot. Little did I know that the day I started designing a weight tracker on the iPhone would change my career so drastically. And I think the only reason was that great design was far and few between on the iPhone. People were craving for apps that were polished and well-designed. I couldn’t really break through as a web designer because there’s so much great talent (including you!) getting all the attention.
Favorite 3 typefaces on impulse, even if it’s comic sans or Papyrus. Go!
This is tough, but I’d have to say Helvetica, Din, and Univers. I know, I’m boring.
What is your specialty in your industry?
I guess that would be user interface design. But I’m far from any expert. I’m the Mario in the Super Mario Bros. world. I’m not great at one thing, but average at a lot. I think it has something to do with the way I was raised. My mom is Korean and I grew up in somewhat of a Korean cultural environment. They tend to want to try everything.
Name one of your favorite webbies and why.
Are you speaking of web celebs? My top 3 favorite web designers are Tim Van Damme, Shaun Inman, and Bryan Veloso. I’m not claiming them as the best of the best (although they very well could be). Their work just speaks to me personally. Oh you said one? I probably couldn’t pick one between them.
Tell me a story about Tapbots and how it started.
I was working for Oakley at the time. Paul Haddad (also at Oakley) has been developing Mac software for many years and asked if I was interested in helping him do an iPhone app. He wanted to do a weight tracker just to test the market and I was just excited to give it a shot. I had just finished watching Pixar’s Wall·e a few weeks earlier and had an idea about creating utility “robots” from that scene in the spaceship where you saw all the different defective robots. Everything was smooth sailing from there.
What are your tools of choice?
Behance Dot Grid Books are amazing. If you design interfaces, I highly suggest them. Other than that, I just use Photoshop and Illustrator for 99.9% of my work.
What is the most important skill to possess as a designer?
For me it’s humbleness and the never-ending will to learn and grow. Technology changes so fast. If you want to be useful 10-15 years from now, you really need to keep an open mind. You also have to realize that there are 8 year olds building websites and using photoshop. There’s a new breed of designers coming who will be better, faster, and work for half the price. I’ll never see myself as an accomplished designer. There’s just so much to learn and so much room for improvement.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a baseball player. My uncle in Korea was a famous pro ball player over there. My dad almost got drafted into the majors and his dad knew Ted Williams. It was destiny. But reality caught up with me and I ended up being a designer. Where do I see myself 20-30 years from now? Not sure really. But I have a lot of hobbies and maybe one of them will grow into a new career when I’m older. I’m really into photography these days. Maybe in 20 years I might be good enough to make a 2nd career out of it.
How hard is it to start up a iPhone application design store?
You mean a company? It couldn’t be easier. Apple has made things fairly easy to make a successful business on the app store. That’s assuming you bring the right ingredients to the pot. The App store is very magical in the way it can take our product and put it in the hands of people around the world. Sure the web does the same thing, but in the app store, it’s so much easier.
Any advice to complete noobs on any subject?
If you are a young designer, take risks. Change jobs often (unless you absolutely love your job, of course). Use all that free time you have to learn and grow as a designer. The older you get, the less time you have and the slower your brain wants to work. Keep all your old work around and go back to look at it very 6-12 months. You have no idea how much motivation comes from seeing how much you’ve improved over time. Don’t think you know everything. Every time I think back to my past, I see how ignorant and foolish I was. There was a time when I thought WYSIWYG editors were the best way to build websites and that hand coders were crazy and wasting time.
I see that you love to sketch. Do you have any sketches you’d like to share? Do you use your sketches in prototyping your applications?
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. In high school and college, instead of taking notes, I was drawing pictures. I wanted to be an illustrator, but didn’t have that innate talent in drawing. My drawing capabilities are based on a lot of hard work. And even then, they aren’t that great. At least not good enough to do as a career. Here’s the last free-form sketch I did. I drew/painted it with a tablet and used a mix between Sketchbook Pro and Photoshop. I ended up using this guy on my website with the intention of having more, but never had the time.
I do sketch when prototyping apps. It keeps me from thinking so much about textures, colors, and shapes. I can focus on general structure and usability.
What is your one passion in the web industry?
Not sure the best way to answer that, but I can say this. The part of being a web designer that excites me the most—the moment in the process that makes me love my job, is when I’m writing the CSS and see my design come to life section by section. I can’t speak for other designers, but that’s the most enjoyable part for me. And I don’t really have an answer as to why.
Dogs or Cats?
Dogs. I’m not a cat hater though. I’d love to have a cat, but I’m allergic to them. They seem pretty entertaining, but to be honest, I always feel like I can’t trust them. Probably because I’ve never owned one. Dogs on the other hand, are just great. I’d be pretty sad if I were allergic to them, but fortunately I’ve been blessed with the ability to live with man’s best friend. My first dog was a chocolate lab. She was great, but stayed with my family when I moved out for college and she died a few years ago. My wife and I have a 3 year old female Shiba Inu now. They are awesome dogs, but need a lot of work. They are almost like wild dogs in the sense that they weren’t bred to be domestic in looks or behavior. Everyone who sees our dog says she looks like a little fox. Anyways, dogs rock and Shiba Inus rock (although they aren’t for everyone).
Thanks for the interview! It was fun.
Mark Jardine has impressed and inspired me in his ability jump ship to the freelance world, to create such pixel-perfect products as well as such innovative products. His contributions to the design world and especially the iPhone world will be the model and inspiration for many applications and websites to come.
I want to thank Mark for letting me interview him. He’s a great soul and a kind fella. If you love Mark Jardine’s work as much as I do, I highly recommend the following links:
- markjardine.com Mark’s personal website
- twitter.com/markjardine Follow Mark on twitter
- radiantmars.com The works of Mark Jardine
- Los Angeles Aiki Kai One of my personal favorite’s in Mark’s portfolio
- tapbots.com Mark Jardine and Paul Haddad’s iPhone app website
- pth.com The website of Paul Haddad, Mark’s developer in arms