I started following Grant on Twitter a few years ago as he always posts great photos of things in my hometown, Calgary. He’s pretty smart about some other stuff too! He kindly took a few minutes out of his busy SXSW schedule to answer a few questions.
Sarah: You finished up at Veer two years ago, what’s been keeping you busy?
Grant: Since leaving Veer (two years ago at the end of January), I’ve been in semi-retirement. I say “semi” because I could never be entirely retired, at least in the traditional sense. I’ve been enjoying spending the bulk of my time with my family (my daughters are now in grade 10 and first year university) and finally getting around to ticking a multitude of items off the household to do list.
Sarah: Ah, but not entirely retired, what’s keeping you work-busy then?
Grant: I’ve been offering my interface and design expertise to developers and other creative folks requiring UI and UX reviews for the software and web products. But that’s certainly not a full time role.
Sarah: Part time jobs are where it’s at. What do you do to keep your creative side going?
Grant: In terms of keeping the right side of my brain stimulated, photography has been a daily pursuit for me. I was locked up in a non-competition agreement from my previous employer up until this past November. That prevented me from exploring the sordid world of microstock and the like. I’m beginning to look into some commercial opportunities relating to stock photography, but I’m not anticipating making another career out of it. It’s been nearly 25 years since I graduated from ACA(D) and shot professionally. It’s an intriguing prospect, but I’m more cynical about the industry these days.
Sarah: You also continue to write about Typography, correct?
Grant: Write and design. I currently contribute to Typedia on a regular basis and have been working with very good friends of mine at Ligature, Loop & Stem. I enjoy writing, but it’s exhausting. Words don’t flow out of my head naturally. It takes immense concentration for me to wrestle thoughts and words into a form I’m happy with. I also have trouble stopping the editing and tweaking process. I’ve probably gone over this very paragraph seven times already. One of things I really enjoy is writing and designing type specimens to illustrate the various weights and distinctive features of a family of typefaces. It’s the perfect combination of creative writing, aesthetic finesse, and balanced design.
Sarah: You manage three sites and a mailing list dedicated to the Apple Newton, why so much love for it?
Grant: I suppose some part of me loves the Newton because it was always a misunderstood, oddball product for Apple. Yes, it was an extremely advanced product that showed promise … but still an oddball, and poorly executed from a marketing and consumer point of view. It’s unfortunate that the platform wasn’t allowed to continue under Steve Job’s second watch at Apple, because I believe that it was just starting to gain traction in specific vertical markets such as education and healthcare. The main reason the Newton still holds my attention is the cleanliness and thoughtfulness of the user experience and the invisibility of the data structure. Data and information is just there whenever and wherever you need it. And the interface has a beautiful, minimalist presence about it. I truly appreciate all sorts of obsolete technology, not just the Newton. But the Newton is a very small chunk of computing history that not enough people are aware of.
Sarah: What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
Grant: There have been dozens of smaller projects that I’ve had a hand in over the years … many were extremely enjoyable to work on. However, if I had to pick a single project it would be the integration of community and social technologies into the Veer.com site a few years ago. A small group of designers and programmers were split into their own group, outside of the existing creative and development departments. We were charged with deciding on a development platform (Ruby on Rails), designing a workable community model, and then executing the entire project. All while being cognizant of how the new functionality and design had to mesh with Veer’s existing branding, voice, and legacy technologies. The team I worked with was the best and the satisfaction of seeing that project go live was immeasurable.
Sarah: You have two daughters, are they looking to follow in your creative/entrepreneurial footsteps?
Grant: That’s hard to gauge, as they surprise me almost every day. Both of them are certainly creative, artistic, and have a wicked sense of humour. I think those attributes could take them just about anywhere. Personally, I don’t think of myself as an entrepreneur. I just happen to be able to figure out how to help really good ideas along.
Photo by: Naz Hamid