A close-up photo of a llama with white and brown fur, standing inside a wooden barn with soft light filtering through.
Elwood ponders which CSS spec proposal is his favorite.

I live in Iowa, USA, approximately a four-hour drive west of Chicago. My wife and I run a small pick-your-own blueberry farm as a side business, where we also keep two llamas as pets and mascots. 😊 We have a 7‑year-old daughter and three indoor cats. In my free time, I enjoy experimenting with creating concrete sculptures using 3D-printed molds, with plans to enhance them with fiber optics.

What has being part of the Okay Dev community meant to you?

I’ve been on a lifelong journey, gradually realizing that I’m a creative developer. This journey has been challenging because the craft of creative development” has often been downplayed and undervalued in my career. Being part of an industry-leading community of creative developers feels like emerging from a dark cave into bright, beautiful sunlight.

Additionally, I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge and now feel like I have a trusted place to turn to for questions and advice.

What got you interested in the web industry?

The openness of the web deeply appeals to me. I also love creating interactive digital art. Static digital designs don’t captivate me as much as those that respond to user input.

How did you learn your craft?

I earned a degree in Computer Science from the University of Iowa, but it didn’t teach me anything about being a creative developer. I gradually acquired my creative development skills throughout my career, picking up bits and pieces until I secured a position in a marketing department where I could fully practice my craft. I appreciate the vast amount of learning material available today; Frontend Masters and ThreeJS Journey have been instrumental in filling my knowledge gaps and expanding my expertise. Additionally, I credit GSAP for teaching me a lot about animation through its excellent documentation and APIs.

What was your first industry job like?

I consider my first creative dev job to be working in the marketing department for Cornerstone OnDemand (a talent management software company). I was the only dev who could seamlessly bridge the gap between design and development, and I had to advocate for the importance of CSS in our skill set and hiring process. 🤦‍♂️ I also had to handle a variety of tasks, which limited my focus on creative dev work. Now, at Shopify, I have the opportunity to dedicate much more time to creative development, and I love it. ❤️

What does a typical workday look like?

I begin each day with some new learning, not only because I enjoy mornings but also to ensure I make time for it. Additionally, 15 minutes of mindfulness each morning helps me calm my mind. Throughout the day, I make sure to step outside for a walk and reset my focus. I also use a standing desk with a treadmill underneath.

What’s on your desk?

I have an R2D2 figure, a Nintendo Duck Hunt shadow box, and a stylized portrait of my daughter and I playing Zelda.

A workspace featuring a large wooden desk with a natural finish. On the desk, there are two monitors, one in landscape orientation and the other in portrait. A keyboard and mouse are placed in front of the monitors. To the left, there’s a microphone mounted on an adjustable arm and a small framed picture of a cartoon character. There are also various office supplies. On the right side of the desk, there is a framed photograph of a man and a child, along with a desk lamp, some electronic devices, and a box labeled “Built to Last.” The background includes a grey wall with some framed artwork and a window partially visible on the left.
It’s a little messy, but I think it’s also realistic.” — Eric Johnson

What are your go-to apps?

I use WebStorm as my IDE for coding, and I love it! While I occasionally try VS Code, I consistently encounter friction points that I don’t experience with WebStorm. Additionally, I find PixelSnap invaluable for measuring distances and fine-tuning my implementations in the browser.

What inspires you?

I love the moments during the coding process when an intermediate state results in a surprise animation.

Do you work best in silence, or do you prefer some background noise or music?

Silence! 🤫 Once in a while, I’ll crank up some 90s rock music, but after a couple of songs, I have to turn it off due to distraction.

Which project(s) are you most proud of?

Shopify Editions: Summer 23 and Winter 24.

A screenshot of the Shopify Editions Summer ’23 webpage, featuring the slogan ‘Imagine My Future’ with colorful graphics, and sections highlighting AI-enabled commerce tools like Sidekick and Shopify Magic against a black background.
Shopify Editions Summer 23 website screenshot.
A screenshot of the Shopify Editions Winter ’24 webpage showcasing new foundational product updates, featuring floating images of a presenter, image stack with silver boots, a helmet product color selector UI, website content UI editor, stars, coins, and a kiosk.
Shopify Editions Winter 24 website screenshot.

What’s your perspective on AI, and have you integrated it into your workflow?

I love the UX AI offers, but I abhor the incorrect information it provides sometimes. I think it needs to be regulated big time and monitored to ensure it has a positive impact on society.

Are there any technologies or tools that you’re excited to explore more?

WebGL and ThreeJS!

Any advice for aspiring creatives?

Find a community or start one; there are others out there like you!

Eric wearing a curly brown-haired wig, a checkered blazer, and a colorful bow tie, holding a Garfield plush toy, standing in a brightly lit room with framed artwork in the background.