Interview with Industrial Designer and Adventure Photographer Jordan Steranka

For this week's interview we tapped Jordan Steranka, a passionate young creative, equal parts adventure photographer and Industrial designer. Those two disciplines don’t seem all that connected at first, but peruse Jordan’s work and you’ll find an eye obsessed with clarity, simplicity and beauty. His photography work is dominated with large blank, but colorful skies set behind landscapes only dedicated hikers will ever see, and his design work strives to be simple and sophisticated, even his recent design for a ‘water pipe’ looks like what would happen if Jony Ive was a little more free livin’.

Harold: Hey there, thanks for doing the interview! First up, give our audience the quick 1st paragraph of the wikipedia page article about yourself, where you're from and what got you into the arts in the first place.

Jordan: Thanks Harold! My name is Jordan Steranka and I live to create. I am an Industrial Designer by trade, but I spend my days inspired by photographs, architecture, graphic design, typography and music. I am 25 years old from Seattle Washington. When I am not designing, I am either designing, hiking, playing soccer, eating tacos or vanilla ice cream or doing all of those things with my lovely girlfriend Tenille.

H: You seem to have a pretty split discipline between your work as a photographer and as an industrial designer. Are you more passionate about one avenue than the other?

J: I am definitely more passionate about Industrial Design. It’s what drives me each day to look at things differently, to find beauty in experiences and to solve problems for people. That being said photography is my escape from the world. It allows me to explore nature often alone spending time reflecting and resetting. Having images to recount those experiences is only a bonus.

H: Your design work and your photography both have simplistic and clean qualities about them. Is this something that’s purposeful or strived for in your work?

J: I appreciate you noticing that! Simplicity and being intentional is something I strive for in all of my work, and with life in general.

H: What industrial designers do you think impacted your aesthetic most and what about their work really inspires you?

J: Honestly there are not many classic Industrial Designers I look up to. I appreciate their work, but I am more inspired and impacted by the work of my peers in the design world. Two of my classmates have inspired me greatly. They are extremely talented and driven designers who are also close friends. Their names are Tai Geng, and Mauricio Romano.

H: If someone is interested in getting into industrial design what path might you recommend they pursue? What worked for you?

J: If you are interested in getting into industrial design, I would say consume yourself in it. There are incredible resources on everything from how to sketch to how to learn the computer programs that bring an idea to life. For me finding inspiration from others around me did the trick. I had a few websites I visited religiously to ensure I was on the right path. Those were Behance, FromUpNorth, and Abduzeedo.

H: From the looks of your portfolio you do a lot of back country trekking. How often are you able to get out there, and what are you favorite spots to hike and shoot?

J: I do not get out as much as I would like. The spring and summers are busy here with hikes almost every weekend, but the rest of the year doesn’t get as much love. I have a few favorite spots, but really the goal is to find a new hike each time I am out. Most of my hikes have been all throughout the Cascade Mountain Range.

H: What are you shooting with these days? Any advice for people getting started on what to shoot with or how to get the shot you’re looking for?

J: I admittedly own 6 cameras now not including my Iphone X… My main workhorse is a Canon 6D. It pretty much captures all of the photos you will see of my work. But I have 3 film cameras and 2 polaroids that I try to use to shoot day to day life with people as my subjects. I am blown away with the quality from my phone. I would say I mostly shoot with my phone, canon 6D and polaroid. I like most photographers would say it doesn’t matter what camera you have as long as you have a vision and a purpose.

H: You’ve just started at a firm after a what sounds like a stint of working freelance. Do you see yourself working for a firm long term or do you aspire to be working for yourself full time?

J: I have actually always been fully employed, but try to always have a few projects on the side that are freelance or passion projects. I see myself working for a firm long term, but I think freelance, or starting my own company will always be alluring. At the end of the day I am a designer and not a businessman, so I will always need a partner if I were to work for myself.

H: How's the work life balance working out for you with the new gig?

J: With my new role that started in January, I have been intentional about working less on side projects, so that I can focus my work brain on work. This means I have freed up some time to better balance out the life side of work life balance.

H: What photographers are you most inspired by at the moment?

J: Photographers that I am most inspired by change constantly, but there are a few that I am always enamored with. @alexstrohl @bejamin @shortstache These 3 guys always deliver top notch content.

H: What are you listening to right now?

J: I am an extremely weird music listener. I find a song and obsess about it. I literally play it on repeat until finding a new song to obsess about. Right now that song is

It’s Only (feat. Zyra) - Odesza VIP remix

H: Any last words for anyone wanting to get started in the arts on how they might start down that path?

J: I would say whatever you are passionate about, try and make it a priority in your life. If you can’t pursue it full time, then that is a perfect opportunity to work on it as a side hustle. Above all else I would say collaborate, engage in a community of work and designer with others in mind.

H: Thanks man! Again, really appreciate it!

J: Thank you! I have looked up to you more a multitude of reasons and I am stoked to be even a small part of your legacy!