Monday, September 5, 2011

   It is possible that many who read my blog are wondering what happened to my brushdragon website. As it turns out, I have been working on a redesign for the last year in spurts. Between all of the "events" of late 2010 and this year 2011 so far, I have at least part of this transition accomplished.
   My original site was a class assignment back in 2006 I believe. Using Adobe GoLive, I was to create a simple site with 3 pages: Into, gallery, and contacts. Actually, I wanted the first and last. I think the gallery was all that was required. I had 20 thumbnails of my work. All rollover thumbnails that would bring up an image on the right of the page. Simple.
   The site we all miss (cough) was a simple mass duplication of the first one. I created 5 gallery pages with at least 25 thumbnails a piece. Figures, Traditional, Digital, Sketchbook, and BFA (which stands for Bachelors of Fine Art that was my graduating bachelors degree project at BYU-I). I had a splash page which by now most people find a waste of time. I had a contact page, which was constantly out of date due to my multiple moving experiences, and therefore often outdated phone numbers. The main page was pretty straightforward. The directory I called it. It showed my five galleries in rollover vertical images that could be clicked to take you there. It displayed simple and basic navigation across the top which duplicated the navigation the images had....but also existed across all of the pages for consistent and universal navigation from any page. In total it had 8 links. Home. Figures. Traditional. Digital. Sketchbook. BFA. Contact. And the one many of you here miss perhaps......"My Blog".
   In fact I have heard that it was the way some of you navigated to my blog. So often was this the case, that getting here is a mystery without the old site links. What to do? I mean technically, this means I am talking to myself until I can get a link to you that you know right? lol. Art by Shaun Williams is a fairly long address to type out. And I do actually have a brushdragon blog too. SO....I think I will possibly discontinue this blog in favor of my brushdragon blog. I'll make them look alike, don't worry. I'll have a link in the brushdragon blog to this one for referencing old work. I might even try to migrate all the work to this blog.

   This is where my new site comes into play. You see, I had in mind a site that would have its own blog attached and integrated closely within itself. What you see now is a "rethinking" of my original approach. The new site has no links whatsoever to my other work. This means I super simplified....and it means it isn't done yet either. The site now has 8 images. I know, from 150 images to 8. How could I? I'm disappointed too. Don't be fooled. Here is why though: Digital devices and purchasing. Yes, I wanted a way to implement the purchasing of my work. This with an added goodie...that you could simply download a wallpaper version of my work for you computer. Sizes are from 1024x768 pixels, to 1920x1200 pixels. Basically the site knows what size screen you have by the browser window size. So maximize your screen to get the best choice for your monitor. There is a little download button with an arrow pointing down. Simple. Too simple? Next is the cart. purchase the image. They will be available in 3 sizes. 12x16, 16x20, and 18x24 with respective changes in cost. And you'll notice we are utilizing PayPal. What else?
   8 images was a lot of work to get through too. The old site has many great pieces. However, I didn't give them the high quality check that these have. Also, 8 images was just the right size to address the space on the screen. What? They look huge on your monitor? lol, don't forget there are a lot of people surfing the web on digital devices nowadays. Think of smart phones, and tablets. The design works fairly well on them. Try it on them and you'll see what I mean. My old site really struggled on devices like those. In fact I had to change a major functionality at one point when I realized that none of the apple devices could work with the rollover thumbnails. I had to go back in and allow a double click functionality to my thumbnails. That way an image would show up on its own page for viewing. And I forgot to make the background black. I just didn't' look as good. But functionality demanded it.

   But Shaun, I liked the old site. I was familiar with it and it had all of the links and images I want to see today, where can I get to them? might be saying these things. In fact I have said them. And when changes are made in the digital world....taking too much time can kill you. My original decision to change my site was based on a few facts.
_FIRST, it was bulky and it took way too long to download everything. I was a beginner and had no idea the toll file size would take. Most of my site was high resolution .png files. I like transparency effects is what it boiled down to. And I didnt' know how to handle it in .jpg or .gif form. The site needed a desperate overhaul just so people could get to it faster. Internet speeds have increased for sure, but every second counts. Life is too busy, and the web is too vast to waste that much time waiting for images to load.
_SECOND, it was dark. The look was black to frame the work and give focus to the images. I had backgrounds sure, but they were very very dark(and I know, they didn't distract). Dark to me was becoming depressing and dismal. Brushdragon was a difficult name anyway. Dragon is a word associated almost always with evil or darkness. Hopefully those of you who know me and have seen my work, would see that I don't have a focus on being evil. Eastern culture has a better association with dragons.....often as symbols of power and wisdom. They have good and evil dragons and are not immediately associated with the Devil himself. So you can image how crazy it is to feel like I am fighting an entire culture and mindset. Bottom line - it is not my style anymore. It is too dark and cold. And I want it to be much much more warm and inviting.
_THIRD, it didn't have enough connectivity for people. When I built it, Facebook and Twitter weren't much compared to what they are now.  I didn't have any bio page describing who I was, or even any purchasing integration. All I had was my name, phone number, and email (which isn't enough on top of my phone number being inconsistent).
_FOURTH, I wanted to focus more on my images and not a fancy site design. Sure there needs to be navigation, but why were the images so tiny? Fear of theft is a big issue for artists. There was a HUGE!!! fiasco on DeviantArt a while back from some website downloading and selling artists works without any permissions. Needless to say, the site is down, but the damage is done. We artists are working hard. Now just imagine when the digital world makes money off of us and doesn't even so much as say thanks. Fortunately many professional artists have BIG publishers behind them.....adn when they find out, they act! Me, in contrast, I'm a nobody. Except to you who know me and love my work. To which I say "Thank You" from the bottom of my heart to the top. Again, the site design direction was to focus more around the images, not the "other stuff" that too often gets in teh way. Navigation should be intuitive, but the images should still be front and center. Like a real gallery. I mean, you don't go see a traditional piece of artwork and have objects and text and garbage in front of it do you? No, usually, there is a large uncluttered space, good lighting, quiet (unless a busload of kids just showed up), and a few descriptions to the side or a gallery attendant. Most good sites I have seen, especially photography sites, utilize the "black-room" effect where the image is front and center, and the rest of the screen goes dark, pushing back the clutter and information. some sites have info tabs that rise up on a mouse-over to show you what you want without clutter. And those work very nicely, except the images are still subordinate to the size of the screen. I blame this decision again on fear of theft and wanting the "connectivity and clutter" to have more focus. Smaller images are very capable. I'm not saying other sites are doing it wrong. They like their sites they way they are. Its not a problem. And though they are smaller resolution and lower quality ( ie, printing would show it is not good enough quality for stealing it) they in no way suffer in the digital space visually. There are SO MANY artists accross the globe!!! And the internet has connected them. Sometimes beautifully, other times horribly. Artists are dreamers and oddballs at times.  It is nice to have a community out there to support you.

  THAT is THAT as the saying goes! I'm not done yet. Maybe the current site will become solely the mobile site. I have other designs. I'll post a few of the designs I've thought of and discarded. Remember, I'm not a programmer or coder, so in many cases I have had to bow out as an artist and designer to what code and programming can allow functionally.
    In fact, in the last two years, web design and graphic design have offered money in a sort of hostile takeover of my artistic self that my traditional skills have not been able to duplicate. Are my dreams squashed? Somewhat. Did I have an identity crisis? Yes. Am I still doing traditional work? Absolutely! Buy a print and I'll do more if you know what I mean. I have 20 unfinished pieces at least! And I have new ideas daily. I'm methodical and a perfectionist. It takes time to do the art that I do. I feel displaced in a super fast paced world honestly. Because in the world today, the longer it takes to make art, the more it has to cost to pay for my survival. And I really don't' want to go back to graveyard shift at Walmart. I felt like zombie food. No sleep and no time to do art makes Shaun pretty worthless. I seriously considered throwing my art career in the garbage! It was in the way of survival, and my family's happiness and success. But everyone figures that a Shaun without art is a ticking time bomb......a miserable bump on a log. So, I do art, focus on working really hard and not really getting paid much. (disclaimer to those with ideas on this subject...if you mention a big city relocation, I will hunt you down....that is unless you have a "real" idea with serious interest and funding, OR you are recruiting me to work on the Hobbit-which I don't foresee since it is mostly done already anyway :( ...sigh)

   This may count as the longest blog entry by me. For those of you who just want to see apologies. They are there, just scroll down. Wait, you're already here! lol. I have a lot more to say, but I'll bottle it for now. It's mostly stress and really depressing stuff anyway. Who wants to listen to a depressed artist, bleh? Just stay with my website for a bit longer. Thank you for your support over the years, and take care.

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