Designers are passionate about the products they use, so it’s no surprise that Apple has garnered an ubquitious yet cult-like status within our industry for their computers and hand-held devices. Jonathan Zufi, a mobility expert and self-proclaimed apple fanatic shares that sense of enthusiasm and has captured it in his latest endeavor. Over the past five years Jonathan has amassed an impressive collection of Apple-related products. Through thousands of photographs, an online site and the release of his book titled Iconic, he has documented Apple’s evolution and lovingly paid tribute to the company’s enduring legacy. Today we talk with Jonathan about his motivation for the project and the challenges he faced along the way.
Can you share a little bit about your background? What led you to become such a huge enthusiast of Apple’s products?
I’m a technology enthusiast and have been all my life. I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia and moved to Atlanta in 2005 when the mobile messaging business I was running starting to grow in the US market. I’ve used Microsoft and Apple platforms all my life, but my first Apple computer was an Apple IIc (1984). I’ve loved using Apple products for the same reasons that we all know and love about Apple – ease of use and elegant design.
In 2009 you launched Shrine of Apple – an online project which aimed to catalog every product Apple has ever made. How did that come about and what is its relationship to the book?
Growing up in Melbourne, I used to play a game called RobotWar on an Apple II in the computer room of my old high school. In 2009 the game suddenly popped back into my head and I had the urge to play it again. I checked out some Apple II emulators but they didn’t cut it so I jumped onto eBay to look for an old Apple II to play with. After browsing through hundreds of vintage, I thought about the idea of creating a single place to go to see high definition imagery for the older, more retro Apple products with the goal of producing a fully comprehensive archive of everything Apple has produced since 1976.
What has been the hardest item for you to track down?
The Macintosh Color Classic II. I managed to find one in the original packaging for $2000. I think it’s worth a lot more to the hardcore collectors as this item is really quite hard to find.
Do you have an Apple product that is a personal favorite? If so, why?
I have to give two answers: my iPhone 5 and my Apple TV – I use both of these products every day, they both work seamlessly and I couldn’t work without them.
Over time Apple has introduced many prototypes and products that are now quite obscure. How familiar were you with these products previous to starting the project?
I was completely unfamiliar with many of the products in my book before I started – it was only once I crystallized the idea of actually trying to get *every* product made in Cupertino. Finding the prototypes was a long journey that grew out of many relationships I fostered through multiple eBay sellers that I connected with during my (rather large) buying spree.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when preparing for the book?
The decision to self publish was the biggest challenge. I did massive research prior to coming to this decision – including costs, logistics, market appetite and potential – I eventually came to the realization that self publishing was the best path to take. Once I took this direction, I had to take on the role of publisher, editor, distributor, etc which was a really tough learning experience. As I come to the end of my first print run and prepare for a second, I’m proud that I met this challenge head on and overcame it, beating the odds that many self publishers come up against.
Another huge challenge was meeting the expectations of my target audience. To create a fine art photography book about a subject like Apple meant creating an experience that would not only make the reader excited, nostalgic and completely satisfied with their purchase, but also create an honorable, respectful tribute that would earn strong accolades from members of the Apple family – ex-employees, shareholders, and other people connected to the greater ecosystem around the company. When I look at the emails, tweets and Amazon reviews I’ve received for ICONIC, I am so proud and grateful that I’ve met that challenge head on.
I noticed that Steve Wozniak wrote the forward to the book. What was his response to the project?
I met Steve for dinner in Atlanta early 2013 and had the opportunity to show him a draft of the book on my iPad. We got through most of the PDF when he turned to me and said “Jonathan – this is incredible. How on earth did you do this?”. I was floored and obviously honored beyond words. I told Steve that I wanted to get his blessing on the book and asked if he would write a foreword – he happily agreed and has been a huge fan of the book ever since. He’s a very busy guy but he said that he’s a strong supporter of ‘passion projects’ and so he agreed to participate.
We would like to thank Jonathan Zufi for taking the time to share with us. We encourage you to visit his website, Shrine of Apple. The classic edition of his book, Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation, features 326 pages and over 650 images. In addition, a special limited-edition version complete with metal cover and foil-stamped slipcase is available.
Both the classic and the special edition can be purchased at iconicbook.com. ***For grain edit readers Jonathan has graciously offered a 20% discount on all editions of the book. Enter the code GRAINEDIT2014 during check out to take advantage of this savings.
Iconic: Special Edition with Corvon® Metal-X cover and foil stamped slip case.
This Post has been brought to you by Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation.