A Print Magazine about the People behind Bits and Pixels

Offscreen is an independent magazine about people who use the internet and technology to be creative, solve problems, and build successful businesses. Captured in enduring print, it documents stories of creativity and passion that shape the digital age.

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Issue No11

In Offscreen Issue 11 we speak with designer and UK government employee Mark Hurrell; digital currency and payment advocate Joyce Kim; blogger, designer and entrepreneur Khoi Vinh; kids app maker and Toca Boca co-founder Björn Jeffery; indie game studio co-founder Kris Piotrowski; and writer, blogger, and investor Dave Pell.

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Interviewees in Issue No11

  • Mark Hurrell
    Designer for the UK government
  • Joyce Kim
    Director at Stellar
  • Khoi Vinh
    Designer, Blogger, Entrepreneur
  • Björn Jeffery
    Co-Founder of Toca Boca
  • Kris Piotrowski
    Co-Founder of Capybara Games
  • Dave Pell
    Writer, Blogger, Investor

Making good design isn’t about being the best or loudest in the room, it’s about provoking and listening and adapting, and then listening some more.

While studying art, Mark Hurrell discovered that the internet offered a much more effective canvas for his ideas. After a short stint in the agency world, the London-based designer found his challenge in the relaunch of one of the world’s most respected news sites, BBC News. More recently, Mark and his team have garnered several design awards for rethinking the ways we interact with our governments online. GOV.UK represents a step in a new direction, providing essential government services and information in the most accessible way possible. It also encapsulates Mark’s understanding of good design: providing effective solutions, without big bangs or big dramas.

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I see a future where democratising access to financial services unlocks potential in people that we can’t even imagine today.

As cryptocurrencies struggle to find wider acceptance, Joyce Kim hopes to inspire our belief in the digital wallet. As executive director of Stellar — which she calls “a giant Google Translate for money” — she seeks to expand financial access and literacy by ridding the banking world of its deep-seated inefficiencies. To reach this ambitious goal, the former lawyer is moving beyond the startup bubble of Silicon Valley and setting her sights on empowering the unbanked poor of the developing world.

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We’re consuming all of this design fodder but we’re rarely asking the why of it. We pick it up and learn how to ape it and write tutorials on how to do that, but we don’t really, truly examine it.

Khoi Vinh’s reputation precedes him. Well-known for his former role as design director for The New York Times Online, Khoi is a prominent figure in the design sphere. But he candidly admits that his professional life is not the textbook version of a success story: after his startup flatlined and his ‘acqui-hire’ by Etsy led to disappointment, the father of three has found new balance juggling a range of creative endeavours. With his multi-faceted experience, Khoi paints a realistic picture of what life is like as a maturing designer in an industry full of young hustlers.

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No one is saying that we should stop playing outside or having physical toys. It isn’t a binary matter, and it shouldn’t be treated as one either.

Kids deserve to be kids. This mission is at the heart of Toca Boca, a company Björn Jeffery helped found. With a growing range of lovingly illustrated mobile games for kids, the app maker proposes a digital equivalent to the improvised and imaginative play of the real world. And with success: the small San Francisco-based company has won numerous awards and consistently shows up in the App Store’s best-seller list. Yet Björn is regularly reminded that his Scandinavian upbringing and attitude towards work is not always compatible with the stereotype of a successful American CEO.

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Running an independent game studio is a bit like dancing on a knife’s edge. It’s about as exciting as it is terrifying.

Anyone who loves to get lost in the wonderful worlds of sci-fi and roleplay dreams of making their own video games. Kris Piotrowski lives that dream. As co-founder of Capybara Games, or ‘Capy’, the Torontonian runs a studio of 23 artists and developers who create award-winning games for all major platforms. But there is nothing magical about the process: making video games is hard work, and like most creative undertakings, it inevitably comes with its ups and downs. According to Kris, the uncertainty of the industry’s future means the dream could come to an abrupt end.

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If we’re going to keep the rest of the Bay Area and beyond from hating our guts, we need to constantly be mindful of how lucky we are to be in this place at this time.

Dave Pell loves news. He begins his day by launching an improbable number of browser tabs so he can spend hours dissecting the entertaining, captivating, and often cruel world of media to compile the latest issue of NextDraft. With tens of thousands of loyal readers, his newsletter and mobile app deliver a daily digest of hand-picked news that he believes is worth your time. On the side, he invests in tech startups that he believes are worth his.

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