Interview with Justin Edmund(@jedmund)

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!

David Silverman