Mine was a haphazard career. Aside from part-time jobs in my youth (pulling carrots, pushing a popsicle cart, delivering papers, supermarket bagger, night clerk at a newspaper), I worked at 11  jobs, interspersed by 7 stints of 1-2 years each as a freelancer or independent consultant. I collected unemployment benefits 3 times. It seems I was an early adopter of the gig economy, though seldom by choice! I enjoyed full-time employment and independent consulting for different reasons.

People in my field — interactive or user experience design — work with words, pictures and logic, or the modalities of writing, visual design, and technicalology. That combination is what makes UX design so enjoyable. When I started in this field, I figured there were maybe 10 other interactive designers in the world. Today, dozens of universities offer degrees in UX design, and the User Experience group on LinkedIn has 158,000 members!

Jim's radio shack

High School & Ham Radio

Being very tall (6'6") yet bad at basketball made me a conspicuous failure in high school. Longing to be average, I got terrible grades. But in my spare time, I learned complex theory, earned a technician ham radio license, and loved building electronic equipment. Prophetically, I once built a transmitter from parts. It worked but it was ugly; I rebulit it with a prettier layout, but it never worked quite as well.

Kings Chapel Cambridge

65-66 Cambridge & Culture

The year my family spent in Cambridge, England (1965-66) transformed me (and all of us). The minimal effort that earned average grades in high school put me in "dunce" territory here — so I started applying myself to study and found that I liked learning after all.

Also, I discovered art, museums and culture, thanks to a new friend (we're still in touch) and our family travels on the Continent.

66-70 Calvin College

Calvin was the college of both parents and all my siblings; my father taught at the seminary. It was small, religious, but with some great faculty, and a small core of "rebels" who became friends for life. My initial major was engineering, but having discovered culture, I switched to history. I joined the drama group and the student newspaper, but I found my calling running the film program.

Columbia University Jim in Mactor, Tunisia

70-74 Columbia Art History

A year's undergrad work got me into grad shool in art history, which I loved for four years. A highlight was an archaeological dig in Tunisia. I had some great professors, but as a teaching fellow, I felt uncomfortable in the front of the classroom. Looking for something more "relevant," I passed my exams in Greek and Roman but dropped the idea of an academic teaching career.

books edited by Jim

74-77 Publishing

Referred by professors, I edited studio textbooks at Holt Rinehart Winston. For an interiors book, I wrote a chapter on F.L. Wright. Then I lucked into my dream job as the editor for art & architecture at Braziller — but I lost it after a year. Authors liked my work, but I didn't bring in enough new titles. I then freelanced for a bit, but what was the point? I had already achieved (and lost) my life's goal in publishing!

Jim at the Eames Office

Art Game screens

77-80 Eames Studio

I was in L.A. in a rented car with no job, no girlfriend, and no future when a friend introduced me to Charles and Ray Eames. They liked my idea for Art Game and sold it to the client, IBM.

I led that project for nine months, then stayed on to work on exhibit designs for IBM, Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Federal Reserve Bank. I got along well with Charles and went to openings and movies with Ray. I would have stayed forever, but Charles died, and after another year, Ray closed the studio. Once again, I had found my dream job, but it went away!

I worked freelance for a year, some of it in interactive video, but it wasn’t paying the bills...

Wicat brochure & demo

81-84 Wicat Systems

When the Eames office closed, I pursued interactive video. L.A. had no jobs, but I found a role at Wicat Systems in Orem, Utah, where I produced interactive videodiscs for IBM and AT&T. (The picture shows me demonstating AT&T to my mother.) I then became "style director" for a large team creating a dozen computer-based curricula for elementary through high-school education.

Judge Building, Salt Lake City IBM LS1 project

84-86 Hoekema Interactive

When work at Wicat dried up, I opened a consulting business with an office in the Judge Building in downtown Salt Lake. We did some work for the Getty Institute and a couple other clients, then landed a huge project producing a style guide and training for an interactive courseware authoring system being develped by an IBM division based in Atlanta.

Marietta, GA National Press Bldg, Wash DC

86-87 Crawford Communications

The IBM project led to a 3-month stay in Atlanta — we had an office in lovely downtown Marietta. We hired a studio, Crawford, for video production work. Later, they invited us to open a branch office for them in the National Press Building in Washington DC. This was fun, but poor sales led them to close the branch after a year. They invited us to Atlanta, but I had received a more interesting offer...

Treasures of the Smithsonian

87-91: Philips Media U.S.

In 1987, I took a job with American Interactive Media (AIM), aka Philips Media, to head up a great project: Treasures of the Smithsonian — one of the first programs in "CD-I" or Compact Disc Interactive. It was challenging to coordinate content from 14 museums! My team included a writer, graphic designer, music researcher, and a software engineer.

After that project, I served as design consultant for other CD-I projects in DC and Los Angeles. When the platform failed to flourish, AIM reduced U.S. activity and closed the DC studio.

Natl Geo - Rain Forest Natl Geo - Solar

91-93 Hoekema Interactive

On my own again, I found a steady client in National Geographic, for whom I created a series of HyperCard stacks to control educational videodiscs.

Meanwhile, Philips ramped up CD-I production in Europe. I started design consulting with studios in Milan, Lisbon, Madrid and the Netherlands.

CDI LIsbon

Guide to Venice

CDI Mediterranea


93-96 Philips Media Europe

The transatlantic consulting led to a full-time position, first a year in Belgium, then for 2 years in London.

It was great fun: I helped design CD-I guides to Venice, Lisbon and Paris (which required several field trips, of course), plus several other programs, including an Italian cooking guide, a German health handbook based in Vienna, and a CD-I edition of the Compact Oxford Dictionary.

In 95-96, I led design at CD-Online, a part of Philips, which tried to save CD-I by connecting it online. Our tight, small team had our own offices at the foot of Charlotte Street in London. We chose a Dutch software firm, which meant several business trips to Amsterdam! Sadly, our efforts were not enough to prevent the decline of the CD-I platform. (The rise of the World Wide Web didn't help.) Philips pulled out and closed us down.

AOL login philips MAT project

96-97 Hoekema Interactive

Again independent, I had gigs with AOL and the Washington Post, then steady work with Phlips in Knoxville, TN, on a multimedia AV/TV/web receiver — with elegant visual design from Max McNeil. The team then shifted to Digital TV, hired me, and moved to New York.

Philips DTV display Philips DTV flowchart

1998-2003 Philips Digital TV

In Briarcliff Manor NY, I led a team designing user interfaces for Digital TV. This involved coordinaing many TV "fiefdoms" at Philips locations around the world! Once it went to market, DTV was moved to another office, and ours was closed down (again).

website Habitat DRC website

2003-04 Hoekema Interactive

This phase of my consulting business centered on websites — some paid, like Pepsi, an employment agency, and the City of Newburgh. Volunteer gigs included a local Habitat chapter and a nonprofit trying to restore Newburgh's 1835 Dutch Reformed Church.

Mobius spec Novartis

2004-06 Mobius Systems

For 3 years I wrote tech docs for a software company — not very creative, but I carpooled with a great gang.

2006-08 Hoekema Interactive
After Mobius closed, my independent clients included a digital agency, Digitas, and pharma companies Wyeth and Novartis.

Accenture - Car Play
Accenture internal app
Dept of Ed mobile app
California Obamacare

2008-16 Accenture

My role at the global consulting firm Accenture proved the perfect blend of steady employment and ever-changing assignments. Over 8 years I traveled to 20 cities and worked on 33 client projects, including California health care, Educational Testing Service, a CarPlay app for Visa, and a mobile app for the U.S. Dept of Education. I liked working at Accenture — every colleague was smart, and most were pleasant to work with. Alacrity was the dominant mood. Typically I traveled to client locations Mon-Thurs, with Fridays and weekends home. It suited me well.

Jim talk at IxDA 2018

2016-20 Retirment

My last professional gig was all about my first one: an account of the Art Game. I published an article in the journal ACM Interactions and gave talks at the local library, the Interactions 18 conference in Lyon, France, and the 2019 Information Architecture Summit conference in Orlando, FL. Since then I've just been marveling at how I managed to make it through all these twists and turns.

Jim's business cards

Business Cards

A selection of the various business cards of my checkered career.