A photography student at School of Visual Arts in New York, Jessica Pettway makes photographic works that take ubiquitous objects to new heights with candy-hued color blocks and a push-and-pull play of hard masculine lines with feminine curves. Her work pushes boundaries of the themes of gender and man versus nature in unexpected ways, elevating still life and portrait photography out of a staid genre and into a realm of unpredictability. Her website presence was previously relegated to a very simple website which didn’t align with her photographic aesthetic, and a Tumblr blog where her personality shines through with roving images that twist and turn though a meandering homepage as a diaristic reflection of creativity. She was in need of a site to complement her multimedia blog, while allowing the energetic images to speak for themselves through a cohesive and clean navigation.
Thus, we chose Pettway for our second website makeover, sponsored by Squarespace. We spoke to the artist about the creation of her new site — which she says was astonishingly intuitive to make — and reveal before-and-after shots of her website during its revamp.
We heard you created your site in four days. What a feat! How did you accomplish this?
“The way Squarespace worked was pretty straightforward and there are also tutorials for almost any subject for when I needed a little extra help and further explanation. It was really easy to import my photos, shuffle them around and resize them in Squarespace‘s content manager and in the style mode I was able click on any part of my website and customize colors, fonts and sizing on a panel right next to it. The simplicity of the entire interface made me really excited to work on it whenever I could.”
Which template did you use for your site and how does it blend with your photographic style?
“I used the template Devlin & Co. The examples that Squarespace showed for the template were mostly for online shops and other businesses, but I felt the possibilities of the grid layout and top and bottom banners would be perfect for displaying my portfolio and having a clear and fun navigation.”
How did you find the Squarespace platform helpful in creating the website on your own?
“Since I’m not an expert with coding, it’s easy to get really overwhelmed with figuring out how to make the website work, rather than just focusing on the layout and how I want the site to look. Using simple tools, Squarespace allowed me to focus on designing the site without having to sacrifice anything I wanted because of not being an expert coder. It was also nice being able to skip the back and forth between a designer because I knew exactly what I wanted.”
How does the layout of your site correspond with your photographic aesthetic?
“The playful colors in the layout mimic the playful colors, tones and subject matter in my photographs. The grid layout in the Devlin & Co. template also allows me to give a sample of all my photo projects right on the front page.”
What changes did you make to the template when designing your new site?
“The biggest change I made was using the Devlin & Co. template for a photo portfolio rather than for an online shop or other business. In the template I got rid of a lot of the text ‘blocks’ and replaced them with photographs and galleries. Instead of having a large photo or logo as the top banner, I made two smaller ones for my name and navigation.”
The look is similar to your Tumblr blog. Did you have to customize anything on Squarespace to maintain a consistent design?
“Using Squarespace’s ‘blocks,’ I was able to make some photographs smaller than the others, hinge some directly next to each other, and have other photos scattered down the page. I wanted the front page to be similar to my Tumblr but slightly simpler and easier to navigate.”
What are the advantages of using the Squarespace platform?
“The best advantage about Squarespace is its 24/7 awesome customer service. When I couldn’t figure out how to link the Squarespace site to my domain name on a different hosting site their customer service team looked at all of my screenshots and walked me through every step. The staff was incredibly helpful and friendly and they responded instantly. The Squarespace platform also has a lot of different templates that can be used as great starting points and then customized to get the exact look you want.”
What do you like most about your new site?
“I love the fun colors on the three different banners, how simple and clean my navigation is, and the galleries that Squarespace offers for photographs. It’s also awesome to be able to see statistics on page views for my website. Altogether my website is a lot simpler to navigate and it looks way more professional. This was a much-needed facelift!”