I find designing websites for creative folk a uniquely tricky prospect.
More often than not, websites are intended to promote (and ideally, sell) something. Whether that something is a service, product, ideal, prospect, etc, depends on the client. The nature of that something and the many variables associated (such as the client’s long term goals), informs how I approach the visual structure of the website.
While that’s the priority, I always endeavor to weave some of the client’s values and personality into the aesthetic.
The vast majority of clients I’ve worked with have something unique in their culture, approach and/or values. These distinguish them from competitors while cementing their impression in the mind of the audience. Encapsulating these components tonally and making them intrinsic to a site’s appearance, goes a long way in ensuring they are communicated.
That sounds like common sense, what’s the problem?
The reason I find that tricky with someone like Robyn, is the style and strength of their identity can become distracting. Lacking a deft hand in its incorporation can result in an experience which drags attention away from the primary goal, while likewise becoming tiring very quickly.
But I’m now worried that this is turning into a case study and attempt to validate how I address my own shortcomings as a designer. Which it shouldn’t be. It should be a showcase of Robyn Gallows’ illustrationary badassary (two legit words – I checked).
So, to conclude that train of thought, what hope I have achieved with this site, is an accessible experience which feels like her gallery. That’s opposed to a standard ‘web gallery’ which just so happens to be showcasing her work. The website feels like Robyn Gallow’s, rather than rented space to showcase her work in.
I leave it to you, to determine whether I’ve been successful.
Though distinctive in style and tone, Robyn’s illustrations cover a fairly broad range of subjects. This made structuring the site another challenge.
Talking her down from eighteen million to just five categories, I consider my absolute achievement of the year. That includes remembering to address areas besides the balls and armpits when I shower.
I’m growing up.
She has a nack for capturing the surreal in the mundane and the mundane in the surreal. This balance is evident in the execution of her illustrations as much as the subjects themselves.
Her site has been built from scratch using WordPress. There are perfectly good alternatives out there, but each come with their own limitations.
Stuffy as WordPress can be from a backend perspective, it doesn’t take at all long to refine the content management aspects to best suit a particular client’s preferences.
As a designer, it’s easy to bemoan that the final execution of a site doesn’t live up to your vision, because a client hasn’t uploaded enough content.
But that’s largely on you. Sure, you can’t force rhubarb, but it’s nevertheless your responsibility to ensure that a client has a clear understanding of how to manage their content. When they feel empowered to do so (rather than burdened), the results tend to speak for themselves.
From a long term perspective, I’m comfortable enough with deveoping sites with WordPress that iterating upon and improving it over time is relatively simple. I rarely, if ever view a website as ‘the final piece’, so much as a foundation which will require adaptation as the needs of the both the client and their audience evolve.
Go visit, buy some prints, say I sent you
Pretty much all of Robyn’s work is available for purchase and she likewise offers commissions. If you’re struggling for Christmas ideas (shameless plug on her behalf), you could do much worse than getting her to create something completely unique.
She’ll probably die trying to turn it around this late in the day, now that I think of it. That’s on me for forgetting to share this post a month ago.
Anna and I hired her to illustrate the Great Horned Owls we raised last year, as gifts for friends and family.
The Owls weren’t raised as gifts. Robyn’s illustrations were gifts. Just to be clear.
So please do head over to www.robyngallow.com.
If you do decide to make a purchase, tell her I sent you.
It means nothing, but I like to pretend I have some influence.
Like people who shout about politics on social media.
Topical and provocative – thy name is Ed.