We’ve had the same ole design for our bearable light website since 2002. I loved doing that design. All my previous designs were done completely with tables and spacer gifs (and if you’re a graphic designer you know what I mean). A few years ago when I discovered that tables were going to become the backwards way of doing things I immersed myself in relearning stylesheets. (At the time, there were lots of web standards gurus railing against the losers still using tables–but lo, even till a year ago google.com was using tables! I thought it was all a bit funny–people take these things so seriously,)
Derek and I love the circus and especially the old Vaudevillian posters and advertisements. Sprinkled throughout the old site you’d see a hodge-podge of old fonts I dug up, clip art of Russian dancers, Irish jiggers, rabbis, pieces from Polish cyrk posters. I wanted it to look old and wordy, like a proclamation from an itinerant preacher. And Derek had one of those in his family–he ran an ice cream truck and traveled throughout the country giving away pencils that said, “Jesus loves you”. Archie Butts was his name.)
The hard thing about designing–or, well so many forms of art–is that you get near the finish line and something isn’t right. Perfectionism, the bane of artists. The whole thing gets swamped, gesso-ed, put aside. I decided to scrap the whole “aged poster circus” idea and go with something a little more mysterious, like a techno sweeping design. Now and then I get fascinated by futurism. I wanted something that represented circus and light but without the kitsch, with a sweeping, free forward feeling. I worked very hard on it, relearning Adobe Illustrator to get these cosmic lines. Well, last week something just felt wrong. After a year of hemming and hawing over this design, I missed the old.
For some reason, futurism looks cool in the moment but I always go back to the feeling of an old book in my hands, a feeling that is so hard to create on the internet, on this little glossy screen you are reading. It’s easy to make a website look futuristic–it IS technology. So it gets kind of redundant feeling.
Are you getting the idea of how artists can obsess? Well, one year later, I stripped the whole thing down again, recreated an updated logo for the site and decided to stop fiddling. It’s pretty simple but I think it works. I think because the bottom line with us is that Derek and I are a combination of an old, wordy book and a traveling, oral-circus-storyteller. We are not Tron.
P.S. For the computer/blog geeks, I use Movable Type. I have been using it since 2001 so I do it out of habit because I know how to code it so well. For much of our site, I used a little known CMS called Big Medium. I started using it in 2002 and really loved it, mostly because it has stayed small and the personal attention from the software owner is out of sight. I’ve stopped using it simply because it was getting complicated using two different systems. I recommend Big Medium. There is something very good about these little “boutique” software people. They remind you that customer service is not just about posting to a forum and hoping to get an answer some year, or the feeling you get when you call the bank and end up talking to a computer most of the time.