Ben Johnston gives us the low-down on his LA/Brisbane Studio, Josephmark. From the future of thinking to a definitive intern checklist this interview is a must-read! And who IS Josephmark?
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? I was a pretty creative kid but it wasn’t a conscious decision to fall into design. Initially, my perception of design was fairly shallow, even ignorant. But realising how impactful design could be was what won me over in the end. I love design because we can change something if it’s not working – we can help shape the future and make lives easier. Not long after I realised that, I started Josephmark with one of my great mates, Josh Capelin, in 2004. The idea was to create a place where we loved going to work each day and do work that we cared about. It’s something we still believe in and stand by today.
Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt? At Josephmark we do a lot of work around ‘future of’ thinking – looking at how businesses and industries will evolve to meet a number of internal and external factors in the coming years. With our expertise in digital product I don’t think we’ll need to pivot too drastically, as tech is just going to play a bigger and bigger role as time goes by – I’d like to think we’re equipped for that. If you’re looking for a good source of not-too-distant-future vibes, check out Black Mirror. That’s where we’re headed.
Any passion projects you would like to share? We launched Vest earlier this year – a trending chart of Australia’s most talked about startups. It’s had a pretty positive response so far and we’re very excited about what we’ve got instore for it. If you’re into startups or want to know what the hottest tech companies in Australia are, it’s worth checking out. Also, exciting things are happening for our music discovery app, Undrtone, which we started with music supervisor Scott Vener. Watch this space for that one.
What advice would you give students starting out? We always harp on about designing for digital product. I might be biased but as I mentioned earlier, design and tech are so ingrained into our daily lives, and continue to create opportunities for so many, that I’m always surprised by the amount of portfolios that don’t explore digital design. Another piece of advice that goes hand-in-hand with that is not to limit yourself. Try your hand at a few things – it’s the only way to find out what you really, really enjoy doing. It also gives you a better understanding of what others do and how they do it. In design, a little bit of empathy goes a long way.
What’s your take on internships? They’re essential. We actually offer paid internships throughout the year – they’re usually announced on our Facebook or Instagram. In the meantime, read our definitive intern checklist to see what we look for in potential candidates.
What’s the big goal in the next five years? Keep doing what we’re doing. We want to refine a business model that fuses design with unique financing, on projects that have positive impact around the world. It all comes back to the original goal of JM – to create great work that makes a difference, and enjoy ourselves on the journey.