Gary Jansz only touched down briefly at Plank, but he’s been part of our “ecosystem” for many years. Fun fact: back in the ‘90s his band Goldfish played a show with Warren’s band Thelma at Annie’s Pub in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. He also worked at our partner Airborne Entertainment for over 5 years. Now he’s in Ottawa, lending his User Experience expertise and strategic thinking to The Art Department.
Erin: You have a strong background in the music scene here in Montreal—how did you make the transition into the digital industry?
Gary: This really stems more from my days working in independent label distribution more than actually playing music in bands. I felt I was stagnating and not growing. I made the leap from brick and mortar distribution to digital distribution on the web and this proved to be the catalyst to discovery and what was possible online.
Erin: Tell me about the role experimentation plays in your current UX work with The Art Department.
Gary: Apart from the “production aspects” of UX we run collaborative innovation sessions with clients where it’s fundamentally about experimentation. There’s a lot of different names and approaches such as Co-creation, Lean UX, Design Thinking, Hackathons etc. It’s fundamentally about getting in a room with stakeholders and users to define business challenges, ideating and then designing solutions and testing them iteratively.
Erin: You were actually only at Plank for a short time, but you’ve stayed in our orbit. What do you think is the role of community in the tech industry?
Gary: I think the role of community is consistent across not just tech but art, music, cultural and political activism and much more. This might be oversimplifying things but at its core community comes down to creating a shared language, vision and level of support in service to just doing good things and not being a greedy capitalist. Plank, and Warren specifically, have always exemplified that.
Erin: What’s going on in the web world these days that gets you excited or inspired?
Gary: A lot of what gets me excited about web actually is what happens offline (eg. the collaborative innovation approach to building digital products). This, as well as the more widespread focus on user-centered design, speaks to how companies are finally realizing that a pretty design doesn’t necessarily mean it’s efficient and effective for users.
Erin: What’s your creative outlet these days? I listened to Satellite Maps while writing up these questions—are you still playing music?
Gary: I’ve always been an inveterate music nerd (snob...haha). I took a break from music for a while but have recently gotten back into writing and recording new (solo) Satellite Maps material in my modest home studio. 80% of what I’ve been listening to for the last year is (60s/70s) spiritual or cosmic jazz as well as new electronic experimental artists who’ve taken that as a source of inspiration. So that has crept into what I’ve been writing lately. Hoping to upload some of these new tracks soon.
We want to thank Gary for catching up with us.