Monthly Archives: July 2009

Work Begins On The New Gallery System

So, after having spent the past year pondering this, and looking at quite a few professional photographers’ websites to pull the design inspiration from, I have set about begiining work on Grimey Studios’ own customized WordPress theme and configuration to let anyone with a PHP-capable webhost set-up their own professional quality website that can be set-up completely in an hour and maintained in about 2-15 minutes a day.

We have opted for the very en vogue clean aesthetic. In our post-Bauhaus world, clean, clutter free design with lots of whitespace is almost 100% correlated with elegance, and a clean elegance is what most young or new artists are going to need for their sites, I think. A good online portfolio, like a good gallery exhibit, should get on with making viewing the art possible and then stay out of the way as much as possible otherwise. To these ends, we are working initially with a design that allows the art (be it sketches, photos, paintings, or shots of ceramics, etc…) the star role, letting the chrome of the interface fall down to subtle sans serif typefaces and the occasional framing line.

Here’re the initial mock-ups, for the three planned color schemes, a sample of a basic page, and a sample for a parent gallery ladning page. The styling of the blog portion is yet to come, as are the exact goals and rationale’s behind the system, and a roadmap for planned features. I’ll add those soon.

Designing an Instant Artist Portfolio Using CMS

So, I’ve been pondering really hard lately the idea of CMS systems like old WordPress here and their application to new artists. One of the big problems I’ve run into time and time again in web design is that good designs usually require and interface too complicated to safely be used in a WYSIWYG, leaving site maintenance to be done by people with at least passing–and preferably intense–experience in HTML and CSS.

The alternatives were to use simpler systems, with better ease-of-use, or to build a content management system, itself an arduous task and one that would inevitably add a lot to the client’s tab.

When I started these blogs, I assumed like many people probably do, that usign a system like WordPress was going to be messy and oriented solidly towards blogs. Afterall, weren’t all the blogs more or less the same layout, and the same post-feed mechanic? WordPress was fine if you wanted to blog, but proper sites still needed a human touch.

Now that I’ve retooled a WordPress theme entirely for Roberts, I believe completely the opposite. In fact, I’m so convinced that with the right skin, one approached from the traditional clean, artist online gallery aesthetic, you could use WordPress to manage not only a full (say, 3-6 gallery, maybe sub-galleries) portfolio, but you’d have built-in access to SEO improvements, and things I didn’t appreciate until recently like a media rss and Cooliris integration, and not have to give up a sheen of gloss, that I am going to convert my own site here over to a full-blown WordPress hack next month just to show what the system is capable of.

Then, Mr Brustkern and myself, with some testing input from the prodigal Ms Roose, are going to develop what I learn from that change over to a slick, stock gallery system we’ll distribute as free as possible (we’re looking into customizing one module for the full-pro experience that will require 45 bucks to play, but it looks like a free implementation is entirely do-able.)

More to come.

Better Error Messages

So, this is a carry-over from my work at Roberts, where one of our biggest concerns with the web site is clearly communicating to our customers, who, like most web customers, can’t always be trusted to thouroughly read our notices, which leads to a spot of trouble here and there.

Let’s go back further. At the time, I was actually looking into how WordPress styles its notification boxes so I could hook into the editor page and add a dialog for best blogging practices, and I found a blog entry only tangentially related (in the fine manner Google searches sometimes go), about how too many web-designers aren’t using good error messages.

And, I liked it, and I like his elegant code for implementing what really has become the de facto standard for error messages. so, all you webbies out there, give it a read, it’s worth it, and I personally recommend giving it a serious thought.

Css Message Boxes for different message types

New Brushes – Now There’s a Rarity

I was out shopping with the girlfriend yesterday, and amidst a myriad of sales I walked out with a pair of 10 dollar grey plaid slacks, and two new brushes thanks to a pretty decent markdown at Hobby Lobby. While certainly not the most expensive brushes I have ever purchased, they were both Winsor & Newton Eclipse line brushes originally selling for about $10 a pop, and they feel pretty balanced for my style of painting. They’ve got some ‘oomph’ to the bristles without being quite as petrified as many of my older brushes have become. Next month I aim to stock up on some tubes of paint and try a few new mediums, maybe if I’m lucky I can find another special on brushes and get me a new one for applying my background washes, my current goat-hair is in rather sorry shape.

Masaccio Exchange / Status Redesigns

OK, so, these mockups show absolutely nothing small, so I’m linking the thumbnails here to full-size demos of the future of the blog layout:

masaccio-exchange-main masaccio-exchange-main

New Theme Coming… Eh, Soon

So, I’ve been revamping Roberts’ site and blog, and tweaked RokVlog a skosh, and I’m getting tired with this (admittedly functional) quick hack theme I did when I was still new to WP. I’ll try and shiny it up as per the Grimey way this week. Stay tuned.