Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Recollection / Graphic Design Portfolio

   Once in the late 90's an ambitious young one curiously asked a friend of the family who was working at a computer "What are you doing?" And that was the start of it all.

He showed me how to make a heart in Photoshop. "I'm gonna learn how to do this one day" I reflected, and thought nothing more of it, until now. It's wonderful to look back and realize you've achieved something you set out to do, without even realizing you set out to do it!

Initially, I started by learning about graphic design and through simple social sites, where I also got a taste of HTML, the building blocks of websites. Later on, once I had moved to India, my father introduced me to CSS, the wife of HTML "who adds style to content.” In other words, I was beginning to look at the websites I visited in a different way, I was beginning to understand how they worked.

I was testing and tinkering, learning and comprehending - and failing - a lot. But after a while by the spring of 2007 I had created my own little website. It was white and had green buttons for navigation, with "Isa Stewart" written at the top in a clear and gentle font. This was my first attempt, and I proudly kept it running with photos and an "about me" section explaining my unusual lifestyle.

In the making of my first website I began to see that boxy-looking sites weren't good enough for me, especially being the mac* fan I was. I could make a site with text and a few colors, but I wanted smooth-looking transitions, some fade ins and shadows. More research, more tinkering, and voila - GIMP. Free, and definitely good enough! Now combining my images made in Gimp with my HTML and CSS knowledge, I could get the effects I was looking for.

Soon my first chance for creating a website, and earning some money for doing it, was coming. My good friend Beau Bikker was making websites with Dreamweaver and earning a few thousand rupees for each finished design (1000 INR roughly 20 USD). I saw the trend of using these website-making programs but did not like the idea of not using my knowledge of the HTML and CSS languages that I had learned.

Fall 2007, I got my first job, which went sadly, down the drain. I had encountered many problems. The leap from making a small and cozy personal website to a company website for a friend of the family was quite big. There was a photographer hired to get good photos and there was a team of students from the US volunteering at this company in Auroville, India who were going to help me with the design. But it was too much, I soon I lost confidence. I felt I didn't have enough experience. The project fell into the dust.

Since this was all a hobby of mine, I pretty much laid off for a while, feeling uninspired by not finishing my first job and not believing I could have made something that would have worked esthetically. I also let my own website go and stopped updating the photos.

But in this pause in website enthusiasm, I did not forget the skills I had developed in GIMP, the program I used for making background images and such for my websites. I started fooling around with GIMP and in 2008 I realized I could make business cards, brochures, leaflets and such in it.

Spring 2008 I got lucky, my father’s partner was just starting Joy Living and Learning Center in Joy community where I lived in Auroville and she offered me the job of creating their logo. Again I was attempting to do something in which I had little experience, but this time I wasn't going to give up. After hours of work I finally came forward with these ideas for the Center’s logo.

 The last one became the logo. Yeah! I did it! -The figure could have been a portrait of me...

At the same time I got to learn the hard way about pixel resolution  (size of the photo) while producing a batch of 50 business cards for her that came out blurry - I know I will always have much more to learn.

Joy Living and Learning Center advertisements posted in Auroville, India.

In February of 2009 I started a project, Natural Horse, where I wanted to create an information-based site to share what I knew about my favorite subject "the new era of horse and human relations.” I am still trying to find a good way to build this site since I want it to be interactive - discussion as well as information. I also need a team, badly.
2009 has become the year for learning about being efficiency. For example using existing online bloging sites and customizing them instead of building my own from scratch (which is very gnarly). Or using website-making/network-building sites like ning. In the beginning I was rebellious about using these because I felt very limited by the platform and couldn't personalize it as much as I was used to as well as using the same strategies I was used to.

But my rebellion began to turn when I started doing projects for Butterfly, A ning based site. Where I had a wonderful time creating the butterfly logo that is now widely used by the company. Shown are two business cards I designed for Butterfly. is a social network based around healing work 
and life coaching founded by Ann-Charlotte Stewart.

Butterfly business card from 2008 and a later design in 2009.

I had by now found my niche - Without throwing away any of my knowledge I could make aesthetic and functional sites. And I did.

Visit the swedish site Den Nya Jorden Vaknar (The new world awakens) at My personal page in this network - another example of evolving ning.

There are so many options out there for making websites these days. I found that the best way to roll, is to roll along with the flow. For myself I have now seemingly found a solution for my own website needs, being this blog. I have come to realize that simplicity is a very strong factor with websites, if it's not simple and easy to use it won't last. This was also very clear to me after running my first site.

 These days I enjoy to making personal websites, or ning sites, for people as well as graphical designs and etc.. As you will realize from reading my story I have learned most of what I know from figuring it out on my own. It's a great accomplishment and I look forward to find out where these skills will bring me in the future.
And I only just figured out a month ago where all this actually started - cheers to dreams, Isa Stewart.

               The Butterfly logo.

*referring to the computer company Apple and there mac computers.