Geoffrey joined the team full-time in 2004 after freelancing with us for a bit and, honestly, we can’t get rid of him. During the 10 years that he worked for us, he spent about equal time here in Montreal as working from both Toronto and Washington DC. Now he visits Montreal to get his hair cut and squat at Plank HQ. We even hired him to help us out with some UX work last year. So, what’s this guy up to when he’s not here? We sat down to find out.
Erin: You’ve been doing this web stuff for as long as Plank has been around. What drew you to the field?
Geoffrey: Desperation. I'd spent the 90s drinking beer and working joe jobs, aside from a one-year educational hiccup studying photography at Concordia. In '99 I took a self-indulgent, I'm-in-my-late-twenties-I-need-to-shake-myself-up trip to the U.S., where I worked American joe jobs, the highlight (lowlight?) being a temp agency assignment at the Santa Fe DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) in New Mexico. I answered the phone for an afternoon but I don't think I was very helpful to people, possibly because I'd never driven a car in my life. With a couple months to go before my return to Montreal, I found myself standing in a bookstore holding a book on HTML. The internet seemed like it was maybe going to be a thing. I bought the book, started coding, and never looked back.
Erin: What recent developments in the web world get you excited?
Geoffrey: I am woefully uninformed on the latest developments. But one of the things I like about the industry today is that you don't have to be up-to-speed with the latest tools and trends in order to do your work. In the early days, things were changing so often, it felt like we were spending as much time learning how to do the work as we were doing it. I'd be exhausted if it were still that way. The most recent changes I made to my process are already a few years old. I use the collaborative online tool InVision for reviews and prototyping, and the desktop app Sketch for all design work.
Erin: What was your most memorable moment or project at Plank?
Geoffrey: A lot of competition for this answer, but I have to give the trophy to the trip to SXSW in 2006 (if you'll indulge me in treating that as one big “moment”). Warren sent Steve and I down to Austin and it was the first time the web was something other than sitting in front of a computer, working with my colleagues at Plank. Attendance was about 5,000 that year, which is tiny compared to now, but felt huge at the time. Discovering that I was part of a larger community was a real eye-opening experience.
Erin: You’re an avid photographer, what is catching your eye lately?
Geoffrey: I live in a city, walk a lot, but uncomfortable pointing my camera at strangers, so I shoot simple urban scenes. I love finding a balance of elements that can turn the banal into something interesting (to me, anyway!). Seeing something new in the everyday. But it's kind of a mystery to me what catches my eye. Some shots I've taken are of things I've walked by a hundred times — why I never noticed them before, I don't know.
Erin: You’ve been based in Toronto for a while now, what do you miss most about Montreal?
Geoffrey: As with all things in life, it's about the simple pleasures: beer at dépanneurs and proper bagels.