June 28, 2006

The Biggest Puzzle

Up at 3am, more the norm than not these days... actually I rather enjoy the solitude and lack of guilt that I should be doing something more important than browsing blogs, working digital jigsaw puzzles, playing solitaire mahjong or soduko. Two blogs in a row (here and here) knock the *joys* of coding... that other puzzle called: The Artist's Personal Website! That kicked in old memories and here we go...

I've had a 'web presence' since the net was still a young thing and AOL was the King of the Hill. I'd have to do some research to come up with an exact date I went online with my new site but it was the very early 90's not long after we bought our first computer. The free AOL Press was a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web design program and not a bad one at that. I mean... hey, I figured it out and that's saying something because I had no HTML training and still can only putz around with code, forgetting faster that I can learn the stuff. (I'm remembering reams of printout instructions describing all the how-to-do-its.)

The site evolved as I learned new tricks, copied ideas from other art pages, experimented and explored. It was fun. I built websites for organizations, even a couple of galleries... all freebies, happy to do it for the joy of practicing my new found skills. Funny how quickly free stuff turns into demands to do more and better. Got out of that 'business' as soon as I could exit gracefully. As the Internet was becoming more involved in our lives, the whole coding thing was getting completely out of hand as far as my abilities were concerned. AOL Press died and Netscape Composer took over, suiting my simple needs. I still use it today... a lame, old fashioned version that has been left unattended in an open source landfill. I've tried to wrap my simple mind around some of the newer programs but nothing makes sense anymore, it's a language I just can't hack. So my website plods along with no style sheets, java or automatic thumbnail gadgets... everything's manually designed. The code is a patchwork of pieced together scraps I've borrowed from one idea or another over the years. But it works (for the most part) and serves as a career scrapbook of sorts .

Artist's personal websites have not only become de rigeur, they are works of art in themselves in many cases. No longer just a repository for images and resume, they flash and entertain and even hide their wares. So, okay... I ain't going there. Composer and I have traveled as far as we can and we'll have to eat their dust. But hey! Along comes Blogger and we're riding again... free and easy and it don't get no better than that ;-)


Jacie said...

You know I have seen some pretty fancy artist websites lately. Mostly sites of Graffiti artists, who are selling more than just their walls of art, they are selling products associated with their art. Like Architect Frank Geary sells jewellery, t-shirts and furniture, all Frank Geary style.

I don't see a funked out web site as being better than another, just different. I like straight forward sites that high light a persons work with dignity and honesty, that would be yours Karen Jacobs! Your work doesn't need gadgets to make it sell!

My only pet peave with blog sites are ones who use flicker. Waaaaaa! I hate flicker! I think I wrote a book Karen!

KJ said...

I agree that there's a lot to be said for keeping it simple... I have no other choice! I don't get the Flickr phenom either... tried it, but it's too... too something, dunno.

Shelly said...

For what it's worth, I don't knock coding. Not at all. I just have an uneasy relationship with it. It frustrates me to tears when I can't figure out some fiddly little bug, but when the penny finally drops, it's a lovely feeling. But, I sometimes find that I sit down and the next thing I know 12 hours have gone by, so that I look up and it's 3am and I have to get up at 4am and I realize I haven't eaten since lunch and I have a brain cramp and, well, enough already. That's what happened to me last night. I'd been completely absorbed in what I was doing, and the next thing I knew it was 11pm. I also suddenly became aware that my head hurt, my eyes were burning, and I was beyond exhausted.

So, it was a bit like running a marathon. It was good and worthwhile, but when it was over, I was relieved to see the backside of it.

Re Flickr, it's not a perfect system, for sure. For me, it fills a slightly different purpose than hosting my images on my own website. I do both, for different reasons. One thing I've noticed, since installing Coppermine on my site (it makes it easier to track viewing stats), is that I get a lot more views on Flickr. The social networking aspect--for better or for worse--is responsible for that.

Pat said...


Your website is lovely. Doesn't need any changes to make it better. Bells and whistles ain't what it's about. Your work is dignified and so is your site. That's what fine art is all about...that and the joy the work brings to the viewer.

I hope your last paragraph doesn't mean you can't keep using Composer to update your site.

Keep up the good work!