Jonathan Lee

JONATHAN-LEE

SENIOR DESIGNER, ETSY, NEW YORK NY

Jonathan is a native Noo Yawka and Senior Designer at Etsy HQ, helping the brand champion small businesses and keep commerce human. He’s also inhabited desks at Kickstarter, Google’s Material Design team, and The Original Champions of Design. Throughout his career, he’s worked to build brands, create and develop identity systems, and fold multiple world-views of design into his own approach. Some clients that he’s partnered with include Opening Ceremony, Prospect Park Alliance, Aetna, The New York Times, and Atlassian. Jonathan is also a budding educator at his alma mater, Parsons School of Design. When he’s not working or describing his life in the third person, you can find him exploring the world one bite at a time @chiukeat.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
Born and raised in the county of Kings, but currently lay my head in the borough of Queens, NY

DID YOU GO TO DESIGN SCHOOL?
Parsons School of Design

LEFTY OR RIGHTY?
Semi-ambidextrous: born lefty but trained righty

MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL?
A night owl who has learned to appreciate the value of morning time

FICTIONAL OR HISTORICAL CHARACTER YOU IDENTIFY WITH?
Bruce Lee – be water, my friend

ARE YOU MUSICAL AND/OR DO YOU PLAY AN INSTRUMENT?
My parents had me learn piano as a kid and I tried teaching myself guitar but play neither of them well … let’s just say I’m music appreciative

FAVORITE BOOK?
Kenya Hara’s Designing Design was a formative book for me, showing me an approach to design that stemmed from cultural background and an emphasis on the senses.

FAVORITE MOVIE?
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy will always be Batman to me

FAVORITE TV BINGE WATCH?
Community – Troy and Abed, forever

FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM?
Pretending to be a photographer on Instagram

FAVORITE FINE ARTIST?
The grandeur of Ai Weiwei, the wit of Christoph Niemann, the poise of Jing Wei

FAVORITE CHARITY?
Whichever local charity has boots on the ground

FAVORITE FREE TIME ACTIVITY?
I eat a lot. Or more specifically, I try to make as many meals memorable and fun, and food engages all the senses.

COLLECT ANYTHING?
These days it’s business cards and matchbooks from restaurants, which helps me remember where I’ve eaten

COLOR USED MOST OFTEN IN YOUR DESIGN?
Right now O.G. Orange

TYPEFACE USED MOST OFTEN IN YOUR DESIGN?
Whichever voice is best suited for the brand, these days a lot of Guardian and Graphik

DOES PRINT HAVE A ROLE IN YOUR DESIGNS?
Print gave me the foundation that I still apply to my work, regardless of the medium

DESIGN MENTOR/INSPIRATION/HERO?
Joon Mo Kang was my training day. Jennifer Kinon and Bobby Martin was my master’s program. Rob Giampietro married research and design in tech. And my team at Etsy builds me up everyday.

GREATEST STRENGTH/WEAKNESS AS A DESIGNER?
Realizing that design is never done

ADVICE TO A YOUNG DESIGNER JUST STARTING OUT?
The more chances you take at the problem the more opportunities you have at discovering the answer. Keep pushing yourself to the edge, knowing that you are growing and learning.

IF YOU WERE NOT A DESIGNER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
Music producer, cook, or illustrator

A MANTRA OR SAYING YOU LIVE BY?
Two parts: “It’s a matter of context” — the wrong answer is often looking for the right question, and “Try everything once” — every industry, company, person, has their own point of view. Step in their shoes and you might learn something

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APDA18