My new website is up and running at last, with the help of web designer, artist, photographer and poet, David Walker. I've been wanting a site for years, but couldn't justify the expense, since my sales were only for smaller items. Then I decided that if I didn't start to think big, nothing big would happen. So I set aside the money and scheduled time with David to create my very own website. It's been a roller coaster ride for me, much to my surprise. I thought that scheduling and sending in the deposit would be the tough part, but NOT. The tough part was only just beginning.
WOODLAND WALK - (c)Pat Dolan 2007 32"w x 44"h
Featured on the Home Page of my new website.
I had no idea that this would be such an intensely personal experience - it seemed like a good business decision, nothing more! But I had to determine what my site would say about me, about my work, and about my life. I had to select from well over 50 pieces those works that best exemplified my personal artistic style and would also be appealing for a wide audience. Some of those choices were relatively easy, others were not.
What would people want to know about me? Why? To answer that, I looked at many fellow fiber artists' websites to see how they had handled that issue. Some chose a very personal introduction, including info and photos about family members, hobbies, and pets. Others were quite discreet, saying very little about their personal lives and singularly addressing their lives as artists. I ended up opting for a mix of the two styles.
Selecting the work was difficult at first because I wanted to share EVERYTHING. It became apparent that too much work, too little organization, and too scattered a presentation would not serve me well. So I selected what I consider to be my best work and photographed them very carefully at the highest setting my Panasonic Lumix, 8 megapixel, 12x zoom would allow - and believe me, that created some huge jpeg files! I chose to include very few detailed images - only those which really highlighted something that was missing from the full shot.
When David asked me if I had a symbol or a theme or favorite colors, I had to stop and think. Now you'd think as an artist I'd know the answers to those questions immediately! And I did. I just didn't know that I did... I selected a feather for my symbol for many reasons - I am a bird watcher, bird photographer, feather collector, and extremely interested in the Native American perspectives on the symbolism of animals, plants, and specifically birds. I also have a business name of "Firebird Creations," which I seldom use since in the field of art, the artist's name is generally the most important feature the artist owns. David asked me to send him a few drawings of some feathers, which I did and which he used very well. As to color scheme, while I thought I wanted a very bland background for my work so the work would stand out, I did indicate that I prefer warmer colors and hues, but certainly not to exclusivity.
One of my feather drawings - from a Red-tailed Hawk feather
Then it was time to wait... During that two day time period while David was dreaming up my home page, I became quite depressed. I also became aware that my art was now being objectified by being put on the web. And I felt as though I, myself, were also being objectified in the process. While my rational self realized how ridiculous my emotional/mental state was becoming, I couldn't help but notice myself falling into a fear-based "reality" of sorts.
Then it was time to see David's impression of me/my work on the Home page... As it turns out, David (while he claims to not collaborate well - and what artist does?) is an excellent collaborator. He is quiet and respectful, asking questions about the web page and eliciting authentic reactions/responses.
My first reaction - and it was a reaction - was, "Oh my goodness, is that how he sees me??? Is this how others see me? see my work?" The page was so bold, so strong, so forthright...am I really like that? Perhaps I am on the outside, at least. Not so on the inside, I confess. I really hated the color yellow he had selected to go behind the quote and artwork. It was rather "dirty" in my opinion - to the purist/watercolorist, it was a muddy yellow. So the yellow was modified. And a few other tiny details were "tweaked," as David calls it. And then it was OK - fine, even. I happen to really like the work he selected for the home page, it is one of my most recently completed piece. I've detailed some of it's creation in past blog postings under the "Challenge Quilt" which has now been named "Woodland Walk." And so he went forward to create the two gallery pages.
Each day I would approach the internet with excitement and trepidation - wondering "How will it look today?" And each day I was pleasantly surprised, truth be told. I'm not sure now what I had expected, but "success" probably wasn't high on the list. And while I kept looking for what might be "wrong" with things, everything seemed to look really great! What a happy surprise!
Then we came to the Personal Page, the "expose" of an artists' web page. He wanted a photo, so Frank was drafted to take some photos of me so we could choose one that might be good enough. As it turns out, the night we did our little photo shoot was the 42nd anniversary of our engagement - so a little wine and a lot of celebration are behind the image you see on that page. The additional photos are a mix of art, nature, and photos from Ireland taken in the past few months. And I love how he brought it altogether. I only hope I have remembered to include on the links page all the wonderful artist/friends that I know. If not, I'll add them eventually, to be sure.
As of today, the website is complete and my mood has returned to normal. Who would have thought I'd go into deep depression over such a wonderful thing as designing a personal web page? O well, it was worth every bit of time, energy, moodiness, and money plus more. I'm thrilled, to say the least!