By Elizabeth Boylan (Art Director, VectorBloom Technologies)
Apple was founded 35 years ago, the same month I was born. I went a round-about route from studying chemistry, business and then fine art, to happening upon Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech when I was a new mother 3 years ago. I watched it on my MacBook Pro.
The lessons Steve presented about connecting the dots and following your dreams came as a relief as I wasn’t sure if I had wasted time chasing after passing interests in my twenties. I was at home with a very young daughter and no definite way to provide for myself financially in a career I loved.
My husband and I had longed to be closer to nature and have the freedom to work from anywhere. We decided to move to Nelson, British Columbia. In order to keep expenses down so that we could be together and at home with our daughter during her first years, we walked everywhere, adopting a modest way of living compared to our former life in Whistler and Vancouver.
On one of these walks either for a specialty coffee in town or to get groceries, I asked out loud, “What if I started my own game development company in Nelson?” John didn’t reply, I guess he thought it was far fetched. I was an optimist.
Ever since Sara was born, I had been self-learning character modelling and animating with Maya 3D. My goal as a new mom was to be able to provide for myself and my daughter in a career that I loved in the event anything happened to John. Having lost my own father to cancer, I was sensitive to this kind of outcome. And to be honest, it didn’t fit my personality to be an employee somewhere.
We had recently abandoned our cell phones and wanted nothing to do with them until I came across app and game development for the iPhone and iPod touch. More importantly, I came across that developers were making money from selling apps and games, and sometimes lots of money. Ever since I watched the Triumph of the Nerds documentaries, I bought into Mac because of Steve and his way of being. I had done some programming in university and Flash development and so enrolling my company, VectorBloom in Apple’s iPhone Developer Program in 2009 wasn’t so far fetched.
I had a fire in me to make this work. I was too young to participate in the dotcom boom and knew iOS was going to go bang. We got approved and I went nuts studying Xcode and Objective-C development. It was the most important journey as a new mom working from home. I created and released my first app within 2 months. As a mom with a toddler, it was a feat to accomplish. I would code, and hack at the sample code and my little daughter would fall asleep playing at my feet. I would switch to graphic design and art to make the app look as visually stunning as I could.
I am forever grateful that Apple opened development up to the public in this way. They provided so much support with on-line videos and even technical advice on-line.
My husband John, a programmer of 20 years couldn’t believe I was coding Objective-C. He’s since joined me in app and game development so I can focus on the app and game art.
Somehow Jobs’ speech allowed me to believe that following my dreams was the only real way to make things work out. Every once in awhile I walk into my four year old’s bedroom and I see that she’s been looking at my app, ArtCards by Elizabeth Boylan, on her iPod touch.
We’re working on a game project, Big Top Ballet and use it as an opportunity to teach her how things work. You can only imagine my delight when out of nowhere she says to me, “One day I’m going to be a great artist!”
We recently submitted an update for iOS 5 for full Twitter integration. It wasn’t so difficult to execute, so much as making the decision to do that extra bit necessary to make things excellent. It was the first time we decided to push development with a pre-released version of iOS.
Applying ourselves the way Apple does or at least the way Apple notices. Yesterday morning we were notified that the app upgrade was under review and by the afternoon it was approved pending Apple’s release of iOS 5 on October 12, 2011. It’s a free app, it’s not so much about the money we’re going to make as the work involved and our pride in it.
Then I learnt Steve Jobs died. I had this fantasy that he would one day notice. I think every developer must have this fantasy that at the next key note… I never cried for the death of someone I hadn’t met. I woke up this morning to what seemed like a lonelier world and still cried. A sadness for his wife and children who might not have had so much time with him while he shaped our world through technology. I’m so grateful for the journey and the lessons I’ve learned from Apple and Steve about pushing development and design. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment but when you know you’ve done you’re best, it’s clear in the product and you can see.
There’s so many more lessons to be learned from Steve Jobs the man and his way of life. His principles both personal and professional, about choosing the right people for your team, defining your company’s core values, design and entrepreneurship and building a company up as though it were your child. Making sure it’s strong enough to carry on when you’re not around anymore. These are principles are only truly executed to a level as exhibited by this man, when you deeply love what you’re doing and know why and for who you’re doing it. It’s from the intelligence of our heart that true success is achieved.
Editor’s note: Got a question or answer for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Elizabeth Boylan is Founder of VectorBloom Technologies. VectorBloom is currently working on Big Top Ballet a multiplayer game for girls. She is also an artist and iOS developer. Her app ArtCards by Elizabeth Boylan is available as a free download on the App Store. Follow her on Twitter at @ElizabethBoylan.