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SKETCHEE IDEAS: A Creativity Blog


Entries in Art (45)

Tuesday
May202008

12 Social Websites for Artists & Designers

[[Social network service|Social networks]] aren't just great for connecting people with their friends and family. They're great ways to find content. Myspace has been a great platform for connecting bands with their fans and fans with musicians. The power of social networks is being harnessed to help artists and designers come together in new ways. Community is one of the major features of a social network. People go to where the people they want to contact are. So if you want to meet designers, these niche sites might just be great tools for it.

If you've used any of these sites or know of any that I didn't mention, please post your comments!

Design Float


Not unlike the more generalized social rating site Digg, Design Float aims to help the design community share websites of interest with each other. It's especially useful if you're looking for specific topics such as photography. Digg has a more generalized audience.


The Outer Post


The Outer Post is a nice and friendly site where you can create art portfolios featured in your profile. In most other ways its like a lot of other social networking sites. The community is uniquely artists and that changes the landscape of how you can really use the thing.

VIRB


VIRB takes your interests and turns them into a more visual experience. The keyword and list oriented profiles of myspace and facebook are contrasted by VIRB's focus on sharing your generated content. So basically, you post up your photos, link up your blog, post your videos. There is a ton of art, design and photography featured to look at. The best thing about it for me is that it aggregates your rss feeds into your profile if you don't want to have to do everything a million times like on other sites.

DeviantArt


DeviantArt has been around for a while. The community is large and the site is fully featured. It's a great place to just look at art and what people are doing. There's just so many people posting there that you can see tons of stuff. The site puts the artwork in the forefront. The profiles really showcase the art and you can just look at someones profile or go to the art with very few clicks. Some of the other sites take a bit more work to actually see a full sized image: clicking through to searchs, profiles, albums and then finally artwork. While the size of the community can make for problems of its own, I think its still a leader in this space.

Graphic Design Network


The name might imply it or maybe not, but this site has a strict focus on building a community of designers and web developers. It's based on the Ning social network development platform and is built its user base around the existing Estitica Design Forum community.

Amateur Illustrator


Amateur Illustrator takes a the simple and effective approach of putting up art galleries and forums letting you immediately access great content. Like Digg, they've moved away from the importance of the profile. You can still see the artist's information and look at their forum posts and galleries. They let the art speak for the artist. It makes sense.

Sabet TV


Sabet, "a community of hyper-talented folks", gives a feed approach similar to Facebook showing users recent activity and a flash slideshow of works. They also have videos and galleries. There is a lot of content types here meshed together

Pixel Art


Hey why not. It's a community of pixel artists. It's funny that now any type of community platform is now considered social networking. It's strange how terminology suddenly defines something. The best of these new "social networks" are the ones who are less concerned with what they are and more keyed into what they're trying to do. This site does just that. They love pixel art and want to bring together its creators. They showcase the sites best content and make it interesting even to people who didn't know this stuff is cool.

Urbanseeder


While it's in beta right now, it's worth a mention. Urbanseeder is truly social networking. It allows you to connect with people you've met in a sandboxed environment. It's a pretty creative concept, you'll have to look at it and

myartspace


What makes this site interesting is that it connects artists with curators, collectors and others involved in the arts. They also have a blog of interviews with artists on various levels.

Artlog


Artlog aggregates art news, an event and exhibit log, news, museum information and a social layer into what turns out to be a promising product. The focus on the real world of art brings it above the self-love of user-generated profiles. Although they have those too, of course

Digg.com/Design


Users like yourself can rate stories using Digg's interface. The ones which are rated highest end up more visible. It's a simple concept integrated with social features such as profiles and comments. The ease of participation makes it a pretty good place to start.
Wednesday
May072008

Google Reader's Design Kinda Sucks

After reading about the design of social features for Google Reader, I was thinking about the overall design aesthetic of the product. Google Reader is just ugly. Why all of the blue and green boxes? It would fit in much better with Google's company brand if all of that was just left white. There are so many unnecessary design elements all over the thing. There are even inconsistent terminologies (folders and tags). They really need to revamp the whole look and consistency of the product. I use it everyday and think it's a really great product. The reader team really needs to stick with a simple UI that presents great content.
Google reader sidebar
Google Reader's sidebar
Tuesday
May062008

6 Wordpress Plugins You Want But Don't Know It

In optimizing this blog, it turned out that there are all these great features you can add to your existing Wordpress site that can make the experience better for you and your users. You can add your favorite aspects of larger sites without much programming experience. Here are some of the ones that I found useful:

1. AJAXed Wordpress


AJAX is one of the most important technologies of the Web 2.0 revolution. It enables you to use a web interface without reloads or clunky software plug-ins like Java or Flash. This plug-in gives your blog powerful AJAX features. You can choose and customize the features to your blog's design. The in-line commenting system lets your users comment right from the homepage. They can even preview comments formatted using your CSS before posting. It's as seamless as you need it to be.

2. WP-OpenID


This plug-in gives your users a log-in without any registration! With then power of the OpenID standard, you can have users sign in using a Yahoo, Livejournal or Google (Blogger) account. They probably have an OpenID account without even knowing it. It's very simple to make your blog OpenID accessible. I haven't yet worked out the details of making OpenID play well with the AJAXed WP, but I've come up with a reasonable compromise by using them both in different situations.

3. Batch Categories


This plug-in helps you manage your post categories easily. It's a time saver in so many different situations. It will help you put your content right where your readers will expect it.

4. Broken Link Checker


Find and fix those broken links in your posts. I came across this plug-in after seeing so many daunting 404 errors in my site logs. This thing made it easier to find many of them and correct the problems. You'll want your old articles to be readable and as useful as possible!

5. Hot Linked Image Cacher


Similar to the last plug-in, this one goes through and finds images hosted outside of your site. Then it copies them over to your server. This will prevent missing images down the line.

6. Sociable


This puts icons for various social networks onto your posts. You can choose from tons of different services to feature.

This article is a follow-up to “Wordpress Design Spice Up Tips�
Sunday
May042008

Wordpress Design Spice Up Tips

Everyone wants to present their content with a great design. Wordpress makes it easy to update content and make it look great. It takes as much or as little effort as you want to put into it. Try one or more of these tips and see what happens!

Don't forget!

You will have to apply everything you know about basic design principles. Great design is about putting things together in a way that makes sense. Organize the visual information. Never be afraid to re-read the basic design principles and look at your work critically no matter what your level is.

Make your own theme


The completely unstyled Basic 1.0 Wordpress Theme Basic 1.0 Wordpress Theme
The completely unstyled Basic 1.0 Wordpress Theme

Wordpress has themes and you could just download a ton of freely available already made themes. If you're daring enough or already have some HTML or CSS knowledge, I'd suggest make you go forward and make your own theme. Starting out with a completely unstyled theme like basic 1.0, you can develop your own design with your own branding. The theme that comes with Wordpress has too much of its own design elements that can creep into your site. Ultimately it's worth it if you want to have control over your site.

The web is dynamic, so keep adjusting your theme to make it look better and better over time. Consider design problems and solutions, don't do things just because they are "cool". Think in terms of interest and focus.

Design your category pages

Create or edit the category template to make it a site of its own! For people looking for topical information, your category pages can become information hubs. Suddenly you have a whole miniblog all about art or tv. This is a great chance to make a new entry point for your site that you may not have thought about before.

Your first stop should be the Category Template documentation. By default, the most basic design is just a boring listing out the categories in the same way as your date archives. Instead, create a category.php file that looks like a main index page design. The documentation also tells you how you can hand code a template for each category if you wish! Suddenly you can have a new site populated with your own blog's content.

Read about adding images and text in Performancing's Make Your Wordpress Category Pages More Interesting. That page has some great tips including adding category images and editorial content.

Style your comments

You can create style that helps you address your readers. Take a look at these tips for professional looking commenting

Enable OpenID


Wordpress OpenID
Wordpress OpenID Login

I know this isn't really a design thing, but the OpenID is a usability element you might want to take a look at. The OpenId Plug-in is a quick install that lets your commenters log in with their open id url. You also may want to look into using your blog url as your openid. Using both of these methods together, you can login to Wordpress itself with OpenID.
Saturday
May032008

Graphic Design Job Salaries

Simply Hired provides this look at graphic design salaries in my area. It's actually pretty surprising. Designers around here are making much more than I had expected. The demand for high quality design work is increasing. With design is everywhere and every company sharing the need to establish the look of their brand, there's hope for us who are trying to make a living

 

Average Graphic Designer Salaries in Beltsville, MD

graphic designer

$68,000