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The Cobbler's Website

The cliché is simple enough. The shoemaker's children go barefoot. The cobbler's son has no shoes. I found an old reference quoting the proverb as:

The cobbler's children go unshod.

At its root, it's describing a common scenario. The cobbler is too busy building shoes for his customers to spend time building shoes for his family. It's a scenario designers are more than familiar with. Show me a designer, and I'll show you someone who says that their website or portfolio or logo is sorely out of date. This isn't strictly true, of course, but you get the idea. Days (and often nights) are spent solving problems and creating design solutions for clients, while the design needs of one's own studio falls by the wayside.

I think it goes deeper than a lack of time. It's easier for me to help others with their design needs than to tackle my own. It comes down to perspective. Part of approaching any design for a client is to understand their core business and their particular needs. To see things from the inside. But the outside perspective you bring to any project is also incredibly valuable. It's this outside perspective that's difficult to see with self-promotional work. Even moreso for small studios and freelance designers.

Like many before it, our website has suffered from "Cobbler's Children" syndrome. Our logo has suffered a similar fate. There have been multiple, and I mean a whole lot of, attempts at a site and logo redesign. All were started with the best intentions, and all were abandoned.

Making Shoes

After starting on my upteenth attempted site redesign, I realized that I wasn't seeing the forest for the trees. Because the work was for me, and not for a client, my typical (and trusted) process wasn't happening. I was getting caught up on the small things and ignoring the bigger picture. With that realization, I was able to make strides forward.

As a designer, it's important for me to have a personal brand. It's also something I want to have. But that brand needs to be malleable, and for the most part it needs to be invisible. Though I'm sure they help, I realized that I'm not selling prospective clients on my company's logo or the look of my website, I'm selling them on the work that I've done for others. The work I've done is infinitely more important than how fancy my website is. I don't need my site to focus on my work, I need my work to be the focus of my site. Because of this my brand needs to be simple, clean, and, for the the most part, get out of the way.

My hope is that this new site accomplishes all of those things. The new logo is an evolution of the old. My brand is now monochromatic, with the exception green. The site itself is black, white and gray. The colors you see, the designs you see, are all contained in the work I've done for my wonderful, exciting, handsome, beautiful, incredibly smart and good-looking clients. My hope is that the new site does a good job of letting the work be the focus. All in all, I'm happy with it.

For now.

NewsJory Raphael