This is the archive of version one, made in 2006, launched in 2007, and active until 2012. It’s archived to preserve the original design and its content that was referenced in multiple posts, books and galleries. There’s a holding page before the new site arrives.

/ log / 13th Aug, 2009 /

All Change, Please

Exit door.

‘One door closes, another opens’ is an idiom that has always resonated with me. It reminds me that serendipity† is the salve of change, and returns to mind when I have news like this: I’ll be leaving OmniTI at the end of August.

†Coined by Horace Walpole in a letter of Janurary 28th, 1754, and based on The Three Princes of Serendip.

I have a natural reluctance to go into details. Suffice to say we have very different views on how design should be done; each are valid, but I have to be true to my own. Those who know me will probably have a good idea what my opinions are, and some may have gleaned them from talks or articles. If friends wish to know more, drop me a line via the usual means.

The dynamics of how OmniTI wanted to implement design changed in a way that made me reassess everything. After a lot of reflection, discussion, and valiant attempts on both sides to satisfy everyone, it became clear to me that my future would be elsewhere. An amicable disagreement followed, and here we are.

It’s been a roller-coaster time at the company, keeping me very busy going back and forth across the pond. That was always supposed to be temporary. My intention was to move my family across to the States as soon as it was reasonably possible. Running a design team across time zones and an ocean was never going to be sustainable in the long-run — you lose too much of the natural osmosis that physical proximity converts into inspiration, energy, and ultimately, good work. Reading back over the post when I joined the company sharpens my disappointment that what we set out to do wasn’t possible at OmniTI, but I’m looking forward to pursuing the same goals in the future.

I still hold the people there in high regard; they are without doubt some of the best in the business at what they do. If you need a company to optimize infrastructure, databases, or scale a site to serve millions of people, they should be your first choice. I’ve also been lucky enough to get to know Brooklyn, and Dumbo, pretty well. I still love the city, and I’m certain I’ll be back, devouring sushi from the Rastafari chefs at Gen, or a croissant from Almondine, with hot chocolate from Jaques Torres very soon.

So, to the future. For the moment, I’m going to be taking some time to refresh. There are some interesting discussions going on in the background. I’ll have a little more time to get involved with all of the discussions around web design and typography. I will write more, perhaps give a few more talks if folks are kind enough to invite me. One thing’s for sure, my sorely neglected blog will probably be groaning under the keystrokes again shortly, and I’ll be assaulting your eye with my version of design soon after.


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  1. 1. By Andrei on 13th Aug ’09 at 10:01am

    Ready to be assaulted by your design anytime, mate. :)

    I respect people that stick to their principles and I am glad to see that you chose a potentially more difficult but ultimately satisfying road.

  2. 2. By Matthew on 13th Aug ’09 at 10:11am

    Wow. Looking forward to how the Sea Change affects your output. Can’t wait to see more, read more, hear more from Jon Tan. Keep us posted.

  3. 3. By Brandon Hale on 13th Aug ’09 at 10:20am


    It is always a bit overwhelming when these types of life changing moments (and snap decisions we didn’t think we’d have to make if you asked us years ago) happen to us. I have had a similar circumstance happen in the last year with a similar decision following right behind it.

    Reflecting is good for us sometimes. Helps us evaluate and see if we’ve missed something in the long list of knowledge we’ve collected. Having said that, new horizons are ever present. Our growth as human beings is basically a bunch of skips across lily pads and in order to learn and grow successfully sometimes we have to make the next jump sooner rather than later.

    As a member of this wide wide community of designers, developers and thinkers I commend your attitude and willingness to hear yet remaining passionate about your perspective and standard.

    I wish you all the best. I look forward to having you as an example in this community for a long time so don’t take to long to sort it out. I’m already excited to see what becomes of Jon Tan in the days to come and what creativity he brings with him.


  4. 4. By Jason Santa Maria on 13th Aug ’09 at 10:20am

    Congrats on the changes! And if you happen to be back in Dumbo anytime soon, drop me a line, I work in a Dumbo office everyday :)

  5. 5. By Jason on 13th Aug ’09 at 10:29am

    Sorry to hear about the discord with your employer. At least the changes came so quickly that you decided to take action. I have friends whose positions have changed so slowly that they never knew when to walk away. Looking forward to hearing what doors open and to seeing the products and discoveries of your “refresh" period. Cheers!

  6. 6. By Patrick H. Lauke on 13th Aug ’09 at 10:36am

    Bloody hell, fella. I remember our little day out in Brizzle when you let me in on the move to Omni. I’m sure it’ll all work out for the best though…these are the challenges that keep life always interesting.

  7. 7. By jheftmann on 13th Aug ’09 at 10:41am

    best of luck! looking forward to seeing the creative output afforded by some extra time.

    very inspiring to hear others just up and leave a stable situation, as I’m setting out on my own as well starting next week.

  8. 8. By Dan Rubin on 13th Aug ’09 at 10:42am

    It sounds like you’re making the right decision for you, which is all anyone can hope to have the courage to make.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do next, both during your refresh time and after — I’m sure it will be worth reading/watching/drooling over :)

  9. 9. By Paul M. Jones on 13th Aug ’09 at 10:44am

    Sorry to see you go, man. I’m unhappy for OmniTI, but I’m very happy for you. :-)

  10. 10. By Rustin on 13th Aug ’09 at 11:14am

    Your move really strikes a chord with me as I’m making the same type of leap for very similar reasons.

    all my best to you. To Dan’s point, I have no doubt your next move will be something I’ll be reading/watching/drooling over!

  11. 11. By Evan Meagher on 13th Aug ’09 at 11:21am

    Best of luck in your life after OmniTI! Your blog is always a pleasure to read and I look forward to hearing how things go.

  12. 12. By Elliot Jay Stocks on 13th Aug ’09 at 11:28am

    Exciting times, mate. Exciting times. Congrats on making what must’ve been a very difficult decision. I know I’m not alone in saying that I can’t wait to see what you’ve got up your proverbial sleeve.

  13. 13. By inspirationbit on 13th Aug ’09 at 11:29am

    OmniTI has definitely suffered a huge loss. As for you, Jon, I’m sure you’ll make the best of circumstances, and like the others I can’t wait to see changes and new directions in your career.

    Perhaps you can consider writing a book on Web Typography (not just editing a chapter for others), while you’re taking this time off to refresh? ;)

    Look forward to see you getting back to writing articles here, a much needed breath of fresh air from some mundane and repetitive design blogs that overcrowded the blogiverse.

    Best of luck, Jon.

    P.S. What is that Dumbo in N.Y.C. anyway, was it named after the elephant? ;)

  14. 14. By Jon Gibbins on 13th Aug ’09 at 11:41am

    Jon, you’re a pleasure and inspiration to work with. I wish you happiness in your refresh and whatever endeavours lay in wait.

    “Ch… ch… ch… ch… changes!"

  15. 15. By Steve Avery on 13th Aug ’09 at 12:48pm

    Wow Jon. That’s a bit of a shocker! Hope to see evidence soon of what you do best mate. I look forward to reading your new posts soon.

  16. 16. By LornaJane on 13th Aug ’09 at 13:00pm

    Sometimes it isn’t easy to stick to our principles and this post has reminded me how important that is. Thankyou - and I look forward to running into you again sometime :)

  17. 17. By Dan Mall on 13th Aug ’09 at 13:28pm

    Big news, Jon! Certainly OmniTI’s loss, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ll be up to next. Do hit me up next time you’re in Brooklyn.

  18. 18. By johno on 13th Aug ’09 at 13:28pm

    Was just about to hit the sack, when you hit me with this one. Well, wishing you success in whatever you do from here, today, now.

  19. 19. By Carolyn Wood on 13th Aug ’09 at 16:45pm

    I had such a great time envisioning cool things and working with you when we crossed paths in the recent past. Thanks for that. So, you’re taking a break. I can’t imagine that your break will last long. You’re too creative, too energetic, and too interested in making things better to relax or even meditate for more than a short time. Looking forward to many more good, hearty laughs in the future. You’ll probably create your own place in this world to do brilliant work, but any company that doesn’t try to grab you first is crazy. Period. ;)

  20. 20. By Lea on 13th Aug ’09 at 16:56pm

    Adding my two cents to the change (insert drumroll + cymbal): I admire you sticking to your design principles as well as taking time to reflect. Like Dan said, all we can do is make decisions we believe is right for ourselves. Can’t wait to see what’s next for you. :)

  21. 21. By Gabriel Reguly on 13th Aug ’09 at 18:53pm

    Best of luck for you Jon.

  22. 22. By Min Tran on 14th Aug ’09 at 02:05am

    I’m surprised to hear that you’re leaving OmniTI. Can’t wait to see what’s next for you and your career. I wish you all the best!

  23. 23. By Giles Colborne on 14th Aug ’09 at 02:13am

    Good luck , Jon. Hope it frees you up to do even more inspirational work!

  24. 24. By Paul Whitrow on 14th Aug ’09 at 03:58am

    Hey buddy, long time no speak, but have been watching your progress on Twitter.

    Sorry to hear about this momentous decision, I know how much you were looking forward to working at OmniTI. But a man/designer/all round dude of your calibre certainly wont be swinging in the wind for long.

    Would be great to chat with you again, so if you feel a pull, drop me a line (come see my little girl?). Please give my regards to Lowrie and the boys…

  25. Jon 陳’s profile 25. By Jon 陳 on 14th Aug ’09 at 07:53am

    Thanks, guys, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I hope I can live up to your kind anticipation and praise. Good luck to you who’re making their own changes, and my heartfelt thanks to all of you for your encouragement!

    Pat, it seems like so long ago. Amazing how time flies. You, Jon and I need to share a pint again soon. Come to Bristol (with an open offer to all), and I’ll introduce you to Bee Sting cider. :)

    Jason and Dan, Cheers for the offer! I’ll definitely be in Dumbo again at some point. I still have friends like Chris, Rebecca, and old colleagues there, so when I’m back, I’ll look you up.

    Dumbo is a fantastic little place, Vivien. From my uncle’s time 20 years ago when it was sketchy, to all of the people that have moved in since, it has a great flavour. Try it sometime. :) Hopefully I’ll be writing more soon. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Paul, you have a daughter? Holy cow, dude, I have to meet her! I never even knew you had a Twitter account.

  26. 26. By Paul Whitrow on 14th Aug ’09 at 08:14am

    "Paul, you have a daughter? Holy cow, dude, I have to meet her! I never even knew you had a Twitter account.”

    Yeah mate… 'bout time I joined the rest of the human race I thought (on both counts!). You can see here here:

    You never told me how awesome being a Daddy is :)

  27. 27. By Alex on 14th Aug ’09 at 08:20am

    It’s an opportunity to try something new, and I’m sure when you look back it will be for the best in the long run!

  28. 28. By Miguel Montanez on 14th Aug ’09 at 09:33am

    Jon, I wish you luck in all that follows. I have really appreciated all that I was able to absorb from you over the past year. As artists in a world of ones and zeros, our creative souls are at constant risk of assimilation. I fully agree that design is 20% art and 80% science, I also feel, that 20% needs a lot of leg room.

    It’s really simple, a designer needs to design. So I’m sure, I’m not the only one excited to see what you have brewing… Maybe you will have more time, to continue our work with Murhkins as interface elements? Let’s hope so. ;)

    Don’t stray too far though; I will be needing the occasional scrum and brain picking session in the future…Good luck, bud!

  29. 29. By Chris Wallace on 14th Aug ’09 at 14:09pm

    I hope you find something that allows you to do the things you want to do. You’re a very talented guy and I wish you well in your personal and professional endeavors.

  30. 30. By Carlos Antony on 15th Aug ’09 at 07:07am

    Nice to see people sticking to their principles in these days of recession…

    I look forward to reading more on the blog that for me has redefined typographical excellence on the web.

  31. 31. By Keith Bell on 15th Aug ’09 at 08:31am

    You and Chris Shiflett leaving OmniTI at the end of the month? Gosh…

    Now that would make a pretty formidable designer and developer pairing!

  32. 32. By Piotr on 24th Aug ’09 at 03:08am

    I’m very surprised to hear that, Jon but find myself in a very similar situation actually so I thoroughly feel your pain. It’s just that I’m still hesitating to do something about it and you did not. Change is good and you definitely did the right thing.

    Looking forward to reading more on your future moves and can’t wait to see the new

    All the best


  33. 33. By Richard Rutter on 8th Sep ’09 at 02:08am

    Shame things didn’t work out with you and OmniTI, however it’s great that you’re still on board Fontdeck.

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