We expected to get “uncomfortable.” We expected to be struck with high tech designs that personify the global innovation of frog design; Intel integrated reality displays and HIV test kits with mobile application for South Africa; projects that bring social impact and change the face of perception in our world were almost commonplace. We might have even assumed we would play leap frog to keep up with the creative flow of J F Grossen, but we didn’t expect our next project: to get to work on our narrative. Yes, narrative. In an image idolist world, we often forget about the story, so Jay reminded us of his.
Long ago in storybook Magnolia, Ohio, Jay fell in love with art; the striking “accidents” of color that paint genius without realizing it themselves… but then a few seconds later, he fell in love with logic too. Trying to marry the two took a journey of test markets, from under layers of Photoshop to the technical applications of NASA. Along the way he found that the true innovators “tell stories about complex technologies through design,” and “to create a compelling story,” one that reaches into not only the client’s, but also the consumer’s mind, is when we can achieve “uncomfortable” with our audience. And at the same time they’ll love being a little nervous; the client and consumer become part of the holistic experience, since after all, “design isn’t about the product, but about the entire ecosystem of the product.” In a warp speed world where as creatives we must now become “generalists” at our craft rather than “specialists,” it’s important to remember to encompass the entire experience for our client as well… then we can be the best storytellers in a giant picture book.
Jay’s story hasn’t ended by any means either… we might even find him (along with fellow frogs) teaching and leading designers onto new platforms in Shanghai very soon. He reminded us before any goodbyes to “make new friends, stop and smell the roses, and to stay uncomfortable”; keep reinventing our own narrative. His final foolproof plan to accomplish this is to “teach someone else” what we’ve gained… and in sharing that story we learn so much more ourselves.