So I've spent some time developing my new site, which is in essence, a lot like my previous site (at least content-wise) with some subtle but significant changes.
The first and most obvious change is the layout.
Despite the fact that I've spent the better part of this past year developing Wordpress sites, honing my coding skills and brushing up on some new design technologies (thanks, Treehouse!), the available choices among templated solutions for portfolio sites like this one are just too good and too simple, not to use. (That's right Squarespace, I'm winkn' at you!)
Another key difference, (and an ironic one at that, considering the work I've been doing with Wordpress), is this very blog feature. It's not Wordpress, but rather a built-in part of the Squarespace template. And while it's not open-source, it's simple to use and gets the job done nicely. Most importantly, I'm really happy with it.
The last and most significant difference is more of a philosophical one.
For several years, I maintained (the now quasi-defunct*) www.danielgerdes.com as a portfolio site dedicated only to my photography – despite the fact that during that time, I did at least as much illustration and design work, which no one but my clients got to see. Until now.
Allow me to explain...
Like many of my colleagues in the creative services line of work, I have felt in recent times, that the advances in technology over the past five, (let alone ten) years have made both the 'how' and 'why' of self-promotion a real existential quandary.
As we all know, the playing field, for the intent and purposes of any would-be writer, journalist, photographer, filmmaker, artist, musician, producer, developer, and so on, has been leveled. The cost of entry into what were once, in many cases, very expensive professional pursuits has all but been reduced to nil. But while self-publishing has become infinitely easier, for some of us (myself included), discerning just what, if anything at this point, is worth publishing, has become increasingly difficult (to say nothing of the question, "Why publish at all?").
It is a foregone conclusion that, for anyone with a pulse, a smartphone and a desire to create, who is, by way of the accident of their birth, fortunate enough to have been born in the first world, it is now not only possible to spontaneously broadcast literally any and every form of content world-wide, but it's downright convenient. From the ham sandwich they just had for lunch, to their magnum opus – a person can broadcast at will, with their pinky finger mind you, for a fraction of the extortionate ¢.10/copy that the local library is charging.
While this fact is incredibly empowering, it's also sobering for any creative prone to comparing one's own failures to others' successes. I would argue here that this applies to all of us, meaning we are all creative and we are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others.
Regardless of where we stand though, the fact remains – our landscape has been utterly transformed – the floodgates of talent worldwide opened upon us and the torrent piped in full HD directly into every nook, cranny and device upon which our eyeballs come to rest.
So where does this leave us? For me, at this point, it simply means acknowledging the fact that there are a lot of talented people out there and trying to appreciate the wonder of it all. Initially though, I made the mistake of thinking about it in terms of there being a lot of people who were, by my estimates, a lot more talented than me. Which is true, if you're talking about any number of things really – like building skyscrapers, painting masterpieces, winning Pulitzer prizes and yes, even making pictures, to name a few.
But the key to my own happiness, both as a person who enjoys making things and as just a plain old person, came with the realization that there is one thing that no one is better at than me, and that's being me. It's the same for you too. This simple, immutable fact is the basis for true creativity in all of its forms and I'm happy to say (at long last!) it is the reason behind this new site.
So, overly simplistic or just plain anti-climatic as that may sound, (especially after that massive rant), I imagine that for anyone who has ever tried to create something that is true, it is understood that getting to a place where we're at peace with whatever it is we're creating and the 'how' and 'why' of our creativity is a process in itself. And sometimes, it's a long and winding one at that.
*The www.danielgerdes.com address is still active but now re-directs to www.dangerdes.com.