Prairie Portrait: Tony Leo of Torsion Mobile
Name: Tony! Leo
Bio: I'm a predominately self-taught designer/developer back in the Des Moines area after living for a little over a year in Washington, D.C.
Title: Developer (intentionally vague) at Torsion Mobile
Residence: Ankeny, Iowa
Intro music: "I'll Stay Away," by The Slackers
Silicon Prairie News: Give me your elevator pitch for Torsion Mobile's Mojaba. Why are mobile-friendly sites preferable to native apps?
Tony Leo: Our official one-liner is Mojaba is a mobile-web publishing platform exclusively for agencies. Basically, it's a pretty cool piece of web-based software that allows an agency to create a mobile-optimized website without contracting with a development shop.
Mobile sites are great because they can be accessible by a lot more devices than a native app. Smartphones are growing in popularity, but a lot of Americans are still using feature phones (non-smart), and even with the availability of apps, iOS owners are still using their browsers — more so than any other device. So it makes sense to limit the device-specific development and focus on something proven.
SPN: You've worked previously on web and mobile development for publications that were once strictly print. In that work, how do you try to replicate the print experience? How do you try to differentiate web and mobile from the print predecessors?
TL: The web and print are really two different beasts, so my take is it shouldn't be replicated. There are a lot of publishers attempting that, and what it turns into is a series of PDFs with next buttons. That's not how the web works. But move too far from that and you've got a blog, and honestly, no one wants to pay for that. It's still a little uncharted, and that's why it's so interesting.
SPN: By your estimate, you've worn Converse almost daily for 13 years. What are your Converse kicks of choice, and how do you explain your affinity for the brand?
TL: I've got a pair of black low-tops right now — keeping it classic. I bought my first pair in high school, and that pair lasted me over five years wearing them almost daily. I just fell in love with the simplicity of a little rubber and canvas doing its job that well.
SPN: The tally of hours you've spent getting tattooed is a whopping 24. First of all, ouch. Second of all, can you talk me through the tattoos you have and why you chose them?
TL: The bulk of the time and coverage is in two pieces. One is a pair of foo dogs and the other is an octopus fighting a crane. I don't have any meaningful story. I just went to an artist whose work I admire and talked with him. Specifically with my leg, I just told him I was thinking animals. We talked about animals I liked, animals he likes doing and we thought the contrast between the graceful wings and the swirling tentacles sounded great. To me, a tattoo is snapshot of who and where you are at a time, even if the subject matter of the piece isn't directly related.
SPN: Last but certainly not least, I can't help but notice the unique punctuation in your name. What's the story behind the "!"?
TL: It's really just a piece of personal branding. I've attempted MANY logos as a personal brand over the years but was always redesigning them and was never really happy, so I broke it down as simple as I could. Something that would show a little light-hearted fun and give me nothing to redesign.
Credits: Photo courtesy of Leo.
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