One of the 10 nominees for Young Designer of the Year in the 2014 net Awards (opens in new tab), Jon Gold is a designer at Makeshift.
He’s also built many lovely products, including job-finder app Hire My Friend (opens in new tab), a beautiful electronic resistor calculator and Bitsy, which helps you sell digital things. We spoke to him to find out more.
Give us a summary of your career so far.
I got into graphic design to make flyers and album covers for my bands whilst I worked on becoming a rockstar. That didn't work, but I did fall in love with mid-century Swiss design. After spending a couple of years at college and uni trying to be a great graphic designer (and being immersed in the snooty London graphic design scene), I rediscovered web design. I'd coded as a kid but left it by the way side - this time I dived into it, sacked off making posters in favour of web and mobile UIs, and went to work for startups after I graduated. I worked for Prismatic in San Francisco for a while, and then moved back to the UK freelancing for a bunch of different startups, until I took a full time role in January 2013 at…
What have you been working on over the last year?
…Makeshift! We're a product design studio making lots of cool tools for startups. The best customer is yourself - it's really gratifying to work on projects you've always wanted to exist. In the past year I've worked on Bitsy (helps you sell your digital products), Help Me Write (a better way to write things that people want to read), and one of my ideas - Hire My Friend (an anonymous, friend-powered way to find a job you love). In my spare time I've been working on making some fun little iOS apps, games and Arduino projects.
What have been the particular high points of your career?
Launching Hire My Friend last July was awesome. I'd previously made prototypes of the service in various forms for my girlfriend and some close friends when they were looking for work, so it was great to be able to launch something, have total strangers sign up to it and see them finding jobs they love.
Who and what influences and inspires your work?
I'm really inspired by people who are world-class designers but can also think like great engineers and work on complex bits of code. Al Monk, Brendan Dawes and Rasmus Andersson are three of my heroes in this regard. It's great to see designers really be 'full stack' and be able to deliver complete products themselves.
What are you excited about at the moment?
I just found out they're reprinting the influential 50s-60s Swiss design magazine 'Neue Grafik'. It's always been the holy grail for me - a few years ago I managed to track down a few pages of scans, but trying to actually find a library that had real copies was like gold dust. Super hyped about getting to type-nerd out and read the whole thing.
Tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career.
Don't let your ego and sense of self-worth get attached to your work. Even if you're humble (also, be humble!), being too attached to your work makes you reticent to share it and get feedback. This only leads to worse work, which makes you even more worried in future. It’s a really nasty habit that I try to keep broken.
Name an 'unsung hero', someone you admire who deserves more recognition for their work.
My co-worker Jase Cooper has been smashing it recently. Awesome working with him - fantastic designer.
Vote in the net Awards!
Celebrating the best in web design and development, the 15th net Awards (opens in new tab) is open for public voting until 24 March. With a record breaking number of nominations this year, it's set to be the biggest and best yet. Have your say by casting your votes here (opens in new tab).