Sekrit N1nj4 Project

FRS_Book_tease_1200Having been at this for over 35 years, and from time to time taken a few moments to digitally restore some of the work recovered from the house fire, the not entirely (well, a little) insane notion came across me that I should pull together a retrospective of some of my better work from my student days to the present. The original thought was it would make a nice giveaway to friends and some of my better clients. Given that the technology to self publish and offer print-on-demand is out there and getting better year after year.

So I started to pull together FANTASTIC REALITIES: A Life In Art & Design. A labor of voluminous free time and love. Was quite the trip down memory lane. Also some minor frustrations as I discovered that some storage and archive technologies did NOT stand the test of time. So for instance the breakthrough digital files of the 1996 Witches Ball Poster are apparently lost to digital mischance. ZIP Drives, anyone? Retrospect Express on a Pre-Power PC Mac? Hoo Boy.

But I scanned, reconstructed, touched up. Sniffled a little over fire damaged originals. Curated my own collection. Let me tell you, that is an exercise in humility. There were a few moments of, “oh god, I got paid for this?” But finally I was able to pull together the book in InDesign, and had an editor friend give the text a once-over. And I sent it up to the self-publishing site

Got my Authors copy… it’s stonkin’ beautiful!

Beautiful... and too big.Beautiful… and too frickin’ big.

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NOT Today…

Generic text, stock photo, zero information content...

Yes, just who the frak ARE you, stock photo people? I’ve got nuthin’…

I was not in a patient mood today for fools and shysters.

As a Web designer. I am usually pleased when people see my sites, even the modest ones that are typically just there to establish a web presence for a client. But that means that from time to time, I do get one of those emails…

But I was able to suppress my annoyance and compose a reasonably polite and professional response.

Identifying data has been redacted to protect the guilty guilty guilty….

Hello [redacted name],

I am the Web Designer and maintainer for [redacted domain name].

I am well aware of the scope and limitations of my client’s current site. It is on deck for a redesign and re-build. Of course that depends on my client being motivated to do so and dedicates the required resources. Be that as it may, such a project is well within the skill set and resources of my studio. That is entirely up to us.

However, I would be far more confident if your message included legitimate contact information, a company name, web site, and any other suggestion that you might be legitimate — or even an actual person.

I did visit [redcated URL (from email address)], and that visit does nothing to reassure my opinion. It is a generic site full of generic marketing copy and stock photography, utterly lacking in specificity of any kind, a legitimate address, a phone number, testimonials, portfolio, customer list, or even a single named principal or employee. Your “Who We Are” tells me exactly NOTHING of value. A Google search of “[redacted company name]” produces NO company information, reviews, or even much in the way of search results.

Did you think I would not vet you? There is no way I would trust a client’s money and my credibility to a company that does not even seem to legitimately exist. I am not impressed. There is honestly no THERE there.

Please move on to more gullible prospects.

Kurt E. Griffith
Creative Director
Fantastic Realities Studio


In more explicit terms– piss off, I’ve got work to do.

White Paper:
Starting A Web Design Project

Working on the FRS Web Site in Adobe DreamWeaver

Working on the FRS Web Site in Adobe DreamWeaver

Stuck at the Staring Gate

One of the daunting things about getting your company or organization, or even just your own web site online is just the sheer size of the task. Gathering content. What will the site look like? How is the site organized? What about Responsive Design? Search Engine Optimization? E-Commerce? Unless you’re doing this professionally, it can all seem like a mountain to climb.

If you are working with a Web Designer or Developer, you can make your job a lot easier by understanding a basic outline of what the tasks are and who’s responsible for what.

In general, for most web sites, the design process involves three overlapping parallel tasks. Visual Design, Information Design, and Content Development. Ideally, different people are responsible for these different jobs. They entail different skill sets and appropriate knowledge. But the best processes are collaborative, with all involved in communication sharing information and ideas.

I’ve written a white paper for Site Owners with some ideas that are an outline of the process and some of the practices I’ve found to help the project get launched and go more smoothy. They are intended to help you not be stuck at the starting gate, and get the most out of your team and time.

Remember that your Web Designer and Developer are resources, we’re there to help you get your project online, and we want you to look good!

Download Notes for Starting a Web Design Project [PDF-121k]

There Can Be Only One

OnePress - developed by FameThemes. Perfectly lovely, but…

OnePress – developed by FameThemes. Perfectly lovely, but…

I got this particular wasp up my pant leg reviewing my morning emails. Among the pile was a recurring newsletter I subscribe to — eWebDesign ,with products and coding resources of interest to Graphic and Web Designers and Developers. In today’s batch was “A Free Single-Page WordPress Theme”. If you’ve spent any time on the web lately, these have been all the freakin’ rage, especially for startups, announcements and entrepreneur sites.

A quick look gleaned me this gushing hose of marketing copy. Yes, I know, marketing copy. Imagine that.

“If you’re a fan of the scrolling single-page parallax style themes, OnePress is a new one on that may pique your interest. After less than a month in the official directory, it has already been installed on more than 3,000 websites. OnePress was developed by the folks at FameThemes using Bootstrap version 4. It is suitable for business, portfolio, and agency websites.

“The theme features a full-screen background image with action buttons in the first major section. Scrolling further down reveals an about section, services, a video lightbox, an animated counter, team section, latest news, and contact form…” WP Tavern

You can go there if you like, check ’em out, but I had kind of already hit saturation point. Oooooh look, Paralaxxxxx… Bootstrap… hugh hugh hugh uff. But once I saw, “installed on more than 3,000 websites,” I was pretty motivated to move on with my day. Despite the titanic humongousness of the modern Web, there are still apparently already over THREE THOUSAND SITES out there that already look like this. I am pretty sure I have already seen a few hundred of them, and I’m bored to tears. Even with a free theme, the amount of customization and get-under-the-hood tweaking and custom graphics to make this thing stand out from the mob, it would be worth it to spend a few minutes more to find something a bit more distinctive for a project. Or purchase a more fully featured theme for a relatively minor fee, to get much closer to the project’s aim. Continue reading

A Sword’s Edge of Developer Pain

Deploy Website Button (Cropped)Yes, there are people who do believe this exists…

If you’re here, you likely already know that I am a self-employed Graphic and Web Designer. They used to call that “freelance,” but the reality is that I am running a small business. And much of what I do involves matching what I do, and what I am actually good at, to my client’s, and especially prospect’s needs. As a solo creative/consultant, my market generally is dominated by small businesses, small organizations and other individual entrepreneurs who are wanting to look better than what they can toss off themselves in MS Word, Vistaprint, and GoDaddy Website Tonight…

I spotted this one on a Reddit thread and it made me HOOT.

“Being a Joomla developer is easy! It’s like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire, and you’re on fire, and everything is on fire because you’re in hell.”

The fellow does have a point…

This is coming off of a long and not terribly productive week. I showed up at Reddit essentially surfing my frustration. I have a Joomla site in development and have hit a documented and frustrating UNIX/Apache/PHP/FTP users and groups bug, which prevents uploads, updates and extension installs from within the Joomla back end. It’s just past MY frakkin’ tech level as a Designer and Front-end guy and have called upon a Joomla con$ultant.

But seriously, do the bastards have to be so complex and finicky? Quite frankly, I’d much rather draw than act the Systems Admin…

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