First off, let me thank everyone for such a great reception of Icon Resource. The first 24 hours of its existence were fantastically exciting, and I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. I will consider all your input carefully. Now, I wanted to tell a story that relates a lot to, amongst things, Icon Resource and its genesis, but most importantly, radically changed the way I look at life and the things I feel strongly about.
It has been waiting to be written since late January of this year. It was around that time, late into the evening, in my brand new little office, that my laptop made the familiar ‘bling!’ sound of new mail. I got off from my chair, opened Mail, and found an email from a representative of Apple. They were wondering if I would be interested in a position at Apple in Cupertino.
Of course I was interested. Apple’s like a shining beacon of pure, exemplary design superiority to me. It’s the company that makes the computers, phones, and software I use and love more than anything else. But above all, freelancing had been harsh to me for a month, and living in constant uncertainty about your income is something anyone could live without. I sometimes, comically, equate my freelance work to the hunting of the earliest humans; you basically have to ‘hunt’ for your daily food. And sometimes, you fail to bring home the game.
However, it’s been no easy consideration for a young designer who lives in one of the smallest countries in Europe. If I’d want to work in the United States, I would have to jump through the hoops of getting an H-1B visa (I’m in no way interested in actually emigrating to the US) and leave behind… well, everything. My home, my environment, my friends, my beautiful and loving girlfriend – even the cats that so familiarly rub up against my leg each morning as I make my way to the other side of the room to give them food. And I’d have to trade the Netherlands, which is a liberal country with a strong anti-American sentiment, for the United States (albeit San Francisco, which does somewhat dampen the culture shock).
And in leaving behind all those things, I’d also leave behind Cocoia, my greatest passion in life, and I’d leave it to die. Apple’s employees are notoriously busy, and there is absolutely no way they’d let me run my outgoing miniature enterprise while I was working there. You can see now why it was no easy consideration, even with such an attractive position at that one special company.
I considered that any accessible visa would probably be valid for about 6 months at most, so I talked with my girlfriend. Of course, I wanted to weigh in her feelings about this matter. We could live with six months, although it was uncomfortably long as an uninterrupted period. We’d been living together for almost three and a half years now, if it wasn’t longer. It would be hard on us, but at the same time, if you truly love someone, you must let him or her chase their own dreams.
I had a phone call with another contact person at Apple, and they offered me a different, even more attractive position. The talk, late in the evening, was flattering and fun, as she explained how they thought I really was ‘Apple material’ and that they really enjoyed my work. In a comical moment of that chat, I was asked if I had done work for Apple before, as Orion, my freeware icon set, had been so prominently featured on Apple’s website. I laughingly responded that it was merely a very kind feature of the website maintainers. After the call, I was gleeful, and started compiling a portfolio PDF of my work for the review by the design group the position was for. A few days later, after sending off the PDF, the only thing that rested for me was waiting, and to continue pondering this dilemma.
In the end, little did I know that it wouldn’t matter a lot.
A week and a half or so later, I got a phone call from the representative again, saying that they’d had a meeting with the team and reviewed my work. The team, as they said, was very impressed, and really liked my work. Unfortunately, the visa situation made it impossible for me to start working there within a few months, and they absolutely required a designer for this position now.
It was a pity, but actually, in retrospect, not so much. I think that at that moment, Apple had me by surprise and shock. They’d even remarked positively on my work. If my mind’s roar had been a whisper before, now, my mind was screaming. I couldn’t know then that some of the best times for me were about to arrive, and although I’ve also had my lows after those talks with Apple, the good times have been a lot more rewarding. But what was most rewarding, and life-changing, was the shift of perspective.
I learned to listen to my mind and my gut at the same time, and while that may seem utterly trivial, it’s harder than you think if you’ve lived your life chasing after that seemingly forlorn dream, that long-winded road to ambition. I know it sounds stupid, but when I work with my dreams in mind, I tend to occasionally forget about those human traits like ‘hunger’, ‘thirst’, and ‘having an open ear for that story your partner is telling you’. It’s a constant balancing struggle, and an earth-shattering event (like the realization that on the track to your long-running ambitions, you’ve reached the end of the line) can tip the scales severely, forcing you to reconsider all those great things in life you previously took for granted.
Someone from the kindest of clients privately said to me over twitter afterwards;
“Sorry to hear about Apple. I know you were excited. No doubt it will happen eventually. In the meantime, their loss is our gain.”
Which cheered me up so much at that time, I still think it may be responsible at least partially for my great perspective shift where I don’t really care for a job at Apple anymore. I’ve lived a lot more appreciative of everything I cherish since this adventure, and living in even closer unity with my loved one. I had realized that I didn’t want Cocoia to die, regardless of what would happen. And that’s the moment where I realized if it will not die, it must grow. I started creating my ambitious plans to make into a reality. After all, if you don’t go to work at your dream job, why not create your dream company by yourself? Take matters into your own hands, so to speak.
Icon Resource was a thought, an ambitious plan of this time. It was into the end of the first week of February when I had formalized my plans for it and began my research. Now, almost two months later, it’s been unleashed, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I intend to learn a lot from this endeavor, and help others learn a lot along the way. And it’s not even the last grand project; I’ve several other things up my sleeve for April. But this was certainly one of the projects I consider a big step towards ‘Cocoia 2.0′ – a company independent of my sole success and availability, and a company that’s open to feedback and demands from its environment.
Talking about Icon Resource – I am very appreciative of everyone who helped support me in the first 36 hours with the purchase of access to the member area, and I’ll prove my continued openness to your feedback; over the weekend, bonus content will be added for all existing and future members – some of it based on feedback, and other content that was planned but didn’t make it for whatever reason. Of course, all of this will be announced to members when the time is right.
Icon Resource has even been requested on private torrent websites already, repeatedly showing up in those sections (or so I have been told and shown via email from an anonymous source). Who would have guessed that the pirates of the high webs now desire to indulge in visual interface design as well? Perhaps they’re just indiscriminate.