15 January, 2023: Back to Basics
I haven't been doing a lot of art, per se, for the past couple of months. No, what I've been doing is re-creating my portfolio website from the ground up. Coding from scratch. Good old Web 1.0 stuff.
(Also I have been writing a novel. Started on November 1. It's almost at 100,000 words today, but as I don't have any illustrations done yet, I'm not counting that.)
I've been using WordPress for quite awhile, but you know what? It doesn't make things easier. Sure, I can just fill out the content form, push a button, and have a new page online, but there's so much that goes on in the background: finding the perfect theme, customizing that (which usually involves finding workarounds and compromises within its limitations), keeping all the plug-ins updated, keeping the php version updated, looking out for ne'er-do-wells in the comment sections...and that's just the CMS. Working within the labyrinthine navigation of a BigName™ web host is a whole 'nother set of headaches.
I just want to make cool stuff and show it off on a cool website that doesn't give the impression of being spit out by a portfolio assembly line (looking at you, Behance).
But, see, I'm a computer hobbyist, not a serious coder. As an artist, though, I have some very definite ideas about how my
vanity site portfolio presentation should look. So when I try to use someone else's site layouts, I get bored with what they offer and try to turn it into a custom job. Alas, I know just enough about what I'm doing to spend all day doing it wrong and then not really liking it in the end anyway.
And once I do get it wrangled into a shape I can live with, here come the hackers, trying to break in and take it. I install security plug-ins, and come to find out, those have their own security issues.
Who can be creative in this mess? I spend so much time trying to get the site together and keep it running smoothly that I don't even want to think about art or writing when I'm done.
I miss the old days of the Internet when everyone made their own pages. Websites had personality instead of branding, and the whole point of a site was its content: not the comments sections, not trying to twist real thoughts into SEO keywords, not the endless lists of social media accounts begging us to “like and follow!”, not the ads, not the auto-play videos that pop to the bottom of the screen because they can't take the hint when you scroll past them without watching. Why does everything have to be so damned in-your-face participatory? I just want to buy a thing or read a news story; I don't want to go on a time-sucking adventure down a video wormhole or join another social media marketing cult.
Social, social, social. Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs. Clicks, clicks, clicks. This is why we can't have nice things.
Of course I want your money. This is my livelihood. But there's a difference between “Hey, here's a link to buy this thing” and “yOu MuST aLLow THE SACRED BRAAAAAND tO mErGe wITh yOuR VerY SOOOUUUULLLL.”
I like amateur sites. I like being able to sense real passion behind the pages. I like silly little gifs. When it comes to my own site, I like being able to understand and control everything that goes into it. It's a lot of work putting it together, but no more so than creation and maintenance on a third-party platform.
So here we are. This online portfolio has been through so many renovations over the years. I'm tired of starting over again and again every time I find a new content management toy (or every time the one I'm using breaks). I think I'll stop doing that now and go back to what I know works.
Welcome to the new/old Dreams Over Zero!
Yes, I feel much better now, thank you for asking. Now, back to the art studio.