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…

Continue reading

Truth and Death in Design

Image choices at - front for Getty's Istock Service

Image choices at – front for Getty’s Istock Service

“One illustration or original photo beats 100 stock images.”

This quote turned up in The Year In Design by. L. Jeffrey Zeldman. Sharp guy and a good article. Go read it. It’s short and every bit of it is spot on and relevant.

And some of it definitely falls into the “easier said than done” category. And the above quote was particularly relevant to my experience as a Designer. I work in both Print and Web Design, primarily for small business clients. Turned out to be a sweet spot for me, a market outgrowing what they can do for themselves in MS Word, or Vistaprint, but small enough to not take all their art in-house or go to a big Agency or Design Studio.

Stock Images are one of my big peeves – and most commonly accessed resources. But with small business clients come small budgets. I have absolutely no doubt that original illustrations or photography are superior to stock photos… But good luck trying to get cash strapped clients to spring for a photographer or illustrator for their project. I AM an Illustrator and Photographer adjunct to my Design work, and I’ve done precious little of it professionally – at least that I’ve gotten paid for. Continue reading

Crushing Disappointment & HELL

That Moment... In the process of semi boycotting the Black Friday insanity by staying the hell home and just chilling after a very charming Thanksgiving feast with one of our communities of Spirit. But that leaves me with a semi-day off (as much as freelancers have days off) to do a little more recreational surfing. Which of course will bring on a yet another reason to be irritated by contemporary practices in web design.

I don’t want to go off on a rant here… wait, yes. Yes, I do. Have you ever idly clicked on one of those obvious clickbait headlines, and just been totally pissed off at where you’ve landed? Uh HUH. Me too. It’ll be something vaguely interesting like the “10 Biggest Movie Flops in 2015” or “25 Things You Didn’t Know About Star Wars.”  Now I’m a nerd AND a geek and like movies, so heck, why not?

Then of course comes the crushing disappointment and HELL of these horrid sites…

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Touch Stylus: The Grail Quest

A Collection of Touch Styluses

Styluses Front to back: swag ballpoint/stylus, Targus stylus, Wacom Bamboo Stylus, Hand Stylus, Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2. Rear: Wacom Grip Pen

How friggin’ hard could this be?

If you’ve been reading this blog, or following either my personal or the FRS Facebook page, you’re seeing “from IOS” or “from iPad” on a fair number of them. I have an iPad. I like it. It’s a blast to use and it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes the thing is even useful – for work, reading an e-book, research, communications, more.  It’s surprisingly a great tool for teaching drum and chant, where I can bring along the equivalent of a fat binder of teaching materials and notes, and a chunky box of vinyl and CD’s all in the slim slice of the iPad. Paired with a bluetooth speaker, it’s tremendous.

But I am still an Art Guy. And I’d like to do more with the pad that’s directly creative. So to that effect, I loaded a bunch of creative apps on the iPad and have been poking at them. One of the most fun and intriguing is 53’s Paper, and really quite innovative. I’ve also been exploring Art Studio, Wacom’s Bamboo Paper, Pixelmator, and Zen Brush. I recently picked up Astropad, that connects to a PC or Laptop and essentially makes the iPad a mild analog to a Cintiq graphics tablet. I also had for a while some of the Adobe Creative Cloud Mobile Apps, and Autodesk’s Sketchbook, and a couple of others. I discovered something about iOS graphics apps. They’re chunky, and can eat of a LOT of your precious storage. And so do graphics FILES. I’ve got a 32GB iPad and currently have less than a gig free.

Practical limitations? Imagine that. Next iPad will absolutely be a 64 gb or better. A 16gb model iPad is near useless for professional use. However, unlike the iPhone that people tend to replace every 2-3 years, my current one is going strong.

But like I had discovered years ago as a Design Pro on the desktop, drawing with a mouse is, yes, akin to drawing with a bar of soap. So my Wacom tablets have been next to my keyboard for over a decade. They are still superior to the much promoted (actually not too shabby) Apple Magic Trackpad for speed, control and precision. I use both, context depending. Similarly, drawing with my fingertip on the iPad, while better than the mouse, still is coarse and crappy, the worst being, you cant really SEE what you are doing under your fingertip when you’re trying to draw or sketch. Continue reading