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The Fascinating ‘Art Desks’ of American Artists and Creatives

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Robinson’s Art Desks site

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Victoria F. Gaitan, Photographer. From ‘Art Desks’.

E. Brady Robinson is a woman constantly on the go. Along with her success as a commercial and editorial photographer, the D.C.-based artist has recently published her documentary photo book Art Desks through Daylight Books. The series features 57+ offices and workspaces of creative people all over the United States. From the posh interiors of gallery curators to the colorful chaos of an illustrator’s cubicle, Robinson paints a behind-the-scenes portrait of some of the biggest names in the contemporary art world. Represented by Addison Ripley Fine Art and constantly traveling for assignments, Robinson found herself needing not one website but two to showcase her many ideas and talents. She tells us about her work, her busy schedule and how Squarespace makes having one website (or two) easy.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the series Art Desks. What makes creatives’ spaces so interesting?
“The series started in 2011 in Washington, D.C. following an assignment from CulturalDC. I was on location at Flashpoint Gallery to photograph headshots and editorial for their annual report. The Director at the time said, ‘Have at it’ and basically gave me permission to photograph anything I wanted on site. I was waiting for the staff to arrive above Flashpoint Gallery for a group shot and photographed the desk of Karyn Miller (former Director of Visual Arts and Communication, CulturalDC). The workspace was both empty and present at the same time. This was my ‘a-ha’ moment when I discovered desk as portrait. After the assignment, I knew I wanted to photograph the art world one desk as a time.

“Why artists’ desk? Well – these are my heroes, people I admire and respect. I want to see what they’re up to, what their workspace looks like, give a voyeuristic view and inside look of ‘where the magic happens’. These are my people, my community.”

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Michael E. Northrup, Photographer. From ‘Art Desks’.

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William Christenberry, Artist. From ‘Art Desks’.

How many desks have you shot thus far? Do you have any personal favorites from the series?
“To be honest, I’ve lost count. My recent book Art Desks published by Daylight Books features 57 art desks culled from over 3,000 images from New York to Miami. And, I’m still going. This fall, I began photographing in the Midwest and West Coast. This week I’m in Ann Arbor for a portrait commission and will stop by Cranbrook Art Academy before flying home to add to the archive of Art Desks.

“Personal favorites include William Christenberry, Brian Clamp, Patrick and Holly Kahn, Victoria F. Gaitan and Michael E. Northrup.”

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Philippa Hughes, Pink Line Project. From ‘Art Desks’.

You’ve built 2 websites with Squarespace, both your personal site and a site dedicated to Art Desks. What makes Squarespace‘s platform a good fit for you?
“Ease of use, intuitive interface and ability to support commerce is a big plus. It’s also affordable and quick to set up a site. I post a lot of work on social media, which leads to more work. Squarespace easily links out to social media and allows me to grow audiences, connect with new clients and has great analytics. The design is tight and has awesome templates combined with the ability to customize. Squarespace also provides many tools to increase SEO including clean urls, automatic google site maps and easy tagging.”

Why build an entire site for Art Desks?
“I wanted a dedicated site to Art Desks outside of my personal site, which includes a place to purchase the book, view select images from the project, recent press links, news and updates to book signings and events.”

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Brian Paul Clamp, ClampArt. From ‘Art Desks’.

Did you want both sites to have their own feel? How easy was it to customize them?
“Definitely. For my personal site, I wanted a clean look that would accommodate a lot of work. I also wanted a template that would support full-frame spreads, drop down menus and entire projects displayed as horizontal galleries/navigation. I also wanted to link to social media. I post a lot of work on Facebook and Instagram which has lead to more work. My portrait work of Champion Superior Soundsystem DJ’s led to a major portrait commission as a result of a Facebook post. In terms of customization, I tweaked the font a bit and added commerce to sell my books online.”

What’s your favorite feature on your Squarespace sites?
“The ability to move between templates seamlessly during the design phase, the ease in which I can create updates in real time combined with the ability to create clean url’s and add tags and be socially connected. The analytics are great and allows me to track page visits. The customer service is great. Last but not least, sites look great on mobile devices.”

Squarespace is a Feature Shoot sponsor.

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