Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hate Flash. Hate.

I've said it a hundred times before but I can't help saying it again...

Holy freakin' cow, do I hate flash portfolio sites!

I know, it's a losing battle. They are everywhere. But seriously guys, forget trying to sell artwork for a minute and pretend you need to buy artwork. Lots of it. In limited time. Now pretend you'd like to share a number of specific examples from a number of artist. Lets say three samples from 5 artists. Do that five times today.

Tell me you don't want to blow your brains out after the third flash site you come across.

41 comments:

Jon Dowland said...

I couldn't agree more. Band websites were the first to fall, even before the myspace nail in the coffin.
Lofi is the way to go. Heck, flash excludes most mobile browsers, the fastest growing Market.

Bjorn Nelissen said...

Say it Irene!

I always point to Nate William's website where he gives some very nice tips on how to 'plan' your portfolio website. Check it out here: http://www.n8w.com/wp/552

I always give each piece a unique URL so an editor/AD can bookmark it. And think about navigation. How many clicks does it take for someone to reach a specific piece? If it takes 3 or more clicks there is something wrong with the navigation. No AD wil go through a maze just to find a nice image.

Eric Braddock said...

I agree, flash sites are quite lame. Mine isn't. I personally think flash sites makes it look even a bit cheesy. But that's just my opinion.

Mary Robinette Kowal said...

Hear, hear! And it's not like they load faster or improve the browsing experience in any way.

Thomas Nackid said...

"Know your audience" is the most fundamental rule of graphic design.

Maybe illustrators should have two websites. One for their peers and fans to ogle over and one for busy art directors to actually USE.

mordicai said...

I'm just a browser & I HATE them. Especially as, since I'm often killing time from various computers in different locations, any terminal with wonky flash won't even display that junk!

Tracy said...

I agree completely! For me less tends to be more, and the less time I have to spend waiting for some showy thing to lad the more time I have to look at what I came for.

If you are in the web-design market, maybe it is a good thing for that, but in any other scenario...........flash is trash.

Tracy

Tim said...

i'm not sure who got burned on it first, but for some reason people like to use flash for the exact reason that everyone hates it- so that people can't take your pictures. the line is that now people won't steal your work and use it for their own gain, but seriously, what are they going to do with a 72 dpi? make pixelated shirt? Anti-flash, all the way.

gabor said...

Couldn't agree more. Hard and frustrating to navigate, slow (even on broadband), almost impossible to link (and thus to recommend and refer) properly... Flash is bad. For almost everyone.

As for the "Flash prevents people from stealing my stuff" argument: it hinders only those who aren't really into stealing those pieces anyway. Those who really want to, can take and crop screenshots, mine their browser's cache for data and so on. Of course that's not a nice thing to do, but do they care? Guess not. Anyway, like tim said above, what serious harm could you suffer from people saving / linking your rather small images...?

I don't get the point of using Flash, especially for portfolio sites.

Melissa said...

I stood in the bookstore this morning and stared at the Flash manual and wondered whether to spend the $50 to buy it... You just made me glad I didn't. :D

Out of curiosity what DO art directors prefer?

I'm stuck in limbo regarding my personal website because I'm not sure which direction to go in. It's currently just a blog, with links to several community galleries, but I'd like to put together an actual portfolio site. And I've heard most art directors won't bother looking at community galleries, so it's not really doing me much good as is.

Personally I'm not fond of flash galleries either, but I'm not very good at web coding and don't have anyone who can build one for me. So what to do?

Matt Scheuerman said...

I agree. A flash site for a flash designer is fine but otherwise I feel it's just a distraction from the work. There's lots of ways to post your work to the web without having to use some sort of flash based viewer.

Bill Koeb said...

Really useful and helpful post. Thank you.

Jim Di Bartolo said...

Amen! I gave a short talk/class at a conference in Washington and this was one of my short rants therein after being told this by several editors and art directors personally (which was my thinking in designing my site a few years ago). Nice to hear it echoed PUBLICLY by someone in your position.

Jim

Nicole Cardiff said...

I absolutely agree. Lightbox is really slow, annoying, and doesn't encourage me to browse anyone's site. I think the second-worst offenders, though, have to be those sites where you have to mouse over the thumbnail to see the full image - those are also really maddening, at least to me.

ces said...

I'm not fond of flash sites either.

But let's face it, there's never going to be a concensus on what to use. Everybody's going to like something different for a different reason.

Rayford said...

Couldn't agree more. Every time a little 'loading' icon pops up on someone's site I groan and mutter to myself.... "this better be worth it..."

Rayford said...

Quite honestly I don't even care if someone wants to 'steal' my work. I 'steal' people's work all the time. It's called an Image Morgue and serves as inspiration for my own work. If someone feels inspired by a crappy jpeg version of my work.... more power to them and thanks for the compliment! Anyone afraid of someone getting their hands on a severely compressed, non printable version of their work takes themselves far too seriously IMHO. Enjoy the art and share the vision people! If an artist is afraid of theft then only post low rez images along with separate cropped versions for details. Sheesh! :D

Melissa said...

Off topic, but in response to several of the above comments:

I know several artists whose work *does* get stolen all the time--and not to be used in an image morgue. It doesn't matter how low-res the image is, or if they've watermarked it. People will still take their work, crop off or edit out the watermark, and sell stationary, t-shirts, purses... all kinds of junk on ebay with their work on it. For some, art theft is a business and they can make serious cash, even off crappy low-res images.

I can definitely understand the concern--but I don't necessarily think Flash sites solve the problem. Screenshots of an image work just as well for thieves as right-click "Save As"

neutronjockey said...

I'll post a comment in a second here...still loading 8%--9%--10%...

Carl V. said...

I'm on your side in this one, those sites are so incredibly annoying that it isn't worth the battle.

pussreboots said...

I'm bookmarking your short rant to show to future clients.

D Palumbo said...

I completely understand your argument. I've heard you say this time again. For whatever reason though, my site still lets me right-click/save all the images no problem, even though I'm using lightbox. Maybe it depends on the browser?

I have small previews to the side when you roll over just incase, but I'm puzzled. Do some lightbox sights allow images to be saved and others don't?

Mark Winters said...

In order to quell the artist-in-me-who-needs-to-have-a-flash-website I think I'll design a flash site so that it looks and behaves like HTML.

Jorge Mascarenhas said...

Good point Irene,
My website itself is flash...but also keep even more samples in my blog (being linked with my site) which is useful, because from there you right click and save all the images. But I agree..it's annoying to wait for th images to load...

Eric Orchard said...

Um...I'm sure glad my new web designer talked me out of using Flash...

Piya said...

Thanks for letting us know Irene.

From an artist's point of view, it is never our intention to annoy art directors. Why would we? They're the ones who give us jobs.

Most of us have Flash sites because the program allows for creating professional quality sites in a short amount of time. We learned Flash in art school, and many established artists we look up to have them. This is also the first time I've heard someone (an art director, no less!) say they find navigating Flash sites frustrating.

I'm not arguing against Irene's point. I'm thankful she spoke her mind and it's an invaluable piece of advice. I will take it to heart and see if I can learn HTML.

But I'm also asking that our point be seen too. We're imperfect, hard working artists with big dreams who are doing the best we can with what we know. And we don't know everything.

Lana Gramlich said...

I can imagine! This is good advice for others in both positions (buyers & sellers.)

Thomas Nackid said...

I think Irene is frustrated by the fact that on most Flash sites individual samples do not have their own unique URL that she can pass around, NOT that they are hard to navigate or that she can't download the images. If I understand her post correctly, plus things I've heard her say at past SF convention panels, she doesn't want to have to download images. She just wants to be able to put a link in an email and and send it around and not have to say "Go to this website and count 3 down and 2 across then click on the one with the guy in the cape..."

Sorry if I put words in you mouth Irene. please let me know if I'm off base.

Irene Gallo said...

so many responses!

I'll try to write up a quick bulleted response to what _I_ like in a web portfolio.Of course, it may not be every ADs choices but might be useful info to consider.

D Palumbo said...

"I think Irene is frustrated by the fact that on most Flash sites individual samples do not have their own unique URL that she can pass around, NOT that they are hard to navigate or that she can't download the images."

that makes good sense, but right-clicking also allows me to "copy image location" and grab just my url. Out of curiosity I went and explored some other sites using lightbox thinking perhaps it is a browser quirk that some will allow this and others won't and I found pages which just don't give those options. It seems that not all lighbox code is used identically, so some allow more access than others.

Perhaps thats standard to deny a link or download, I don't know, but it's not a guaranteed thing. Or anyhow, it's not how mine works. It's all black magic to me anyway :)

=shane white= said...

Sadly I find it easier to update than anything else.

Guess I don't get any work. :(

On my pro-site there's an option to right click and open image in another window.

But I haven't added that feature onto my personal site.

=s=

fawnfruits said...

me too. i hate html lesswy

Anonymous said...

I love The Flash - fwf

Irene Gallo said...

I'm sure it is easier to use. It seems that every site I go to recently is has pop-ups, expanding windows, etc. Certainly all of the students coming out from school have their sites set up that way. I know I've lost this battle.

But it's still a complete pain in the ass for art directors. If I was purely looking at sites for my own enjoyment, it would not be an issue. It's a soothing way to look at work. But it's slow. Very slow. More importantly, it's unsharable.

What it does is reduce the number of artists I expose the editors to. Instead of collecting a bunch of possible artists, I'll pitch only my top favorites for that project.

Dave - I hadn't noticed the flashness of your site because I was able to download the images. Most flash sites I've run across wont let me do that.

On the other hand, most artists are better about updating their blogs and myspace pages....which are blissfully flashless. Nowadays I tend to go there first and use the portfolio sites as backup.

Also note: I;m using the phrase "flash" as a catch-all for anything that pops up and animates. I'm really not up n web programs so I may be blaming flash for other kinds of programs. I really don't care how a site is made as long as it is:
1- quick
2- easy to navigate
3- shareable

Josh Jasper said...

Yes, it's easy to update flash, an it'll probably look good.

It'll look good in your browser, on your monitor, with your settings. If you're not sure how it looks elsewhere, you're failing at user centered design.

There is art, and there is user design. Web pages need user design first, art second.

Jon Schindehette said...

Hate flash PORTFOLIO sites, but I'm not going to hop on the "ALL FLASH IS BAD" bandwagon. Appropriate technology, used appropriately is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, there are so many inappropriate flash experiences out there

Irene Gallo said...

Jon - You are absolutely right. I am only speaking in terms of looking at illustration portfolios. There are all kinds of wonderful and creative uses for animated websites.

fwf - Wheelright, you just like being a pain. ;-)

Eric Orchard said...

Maybe you could give some examples of the best artist websites?

David Cousens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Cousens said...

Couldn't agree more Irene! You'll be glad to know that I've actively discouraged a few artists from making flash portfolios this year. Even well designed ones can get irritating very quickly.

I added a Slide gallery to my site (www.CoolSurface.com)so that people have a choice of how to view my work, they can either click through the gallery the old fashioned way, or they can watch each image scroll by without worrying. People seem to like having the choice.

igorstshirts said...

Hi Irene,
We don't use the word "hate":}

Flash is nothing more than a tool, much like a pencil, Conte crayon or a charcoal stick. It takes time to learn it properly and efficiently and probably a lifetime to master.

Most Flash sites are built entirely in Flash and usually contain a lot of hierarchical structuring... Such as text flying in and out at certain frame rates and intervals, motion graphics folding in from one another and a lot of other interactive elements. Add sound and loader bars to the equation and the user might be in for quite a frustrating experience.

I find, however, that there is a "lighter" way to use Flash that has a much better representational advantage compared to stagnant HTML image only sites.

It seems that book and magazine publishing fine art establishments are not connecting themselves to concept art for film and video game media as much as maybe they should be... Especially when science fiction is their main genre of publication.

Let's take Donato's "The golden Rose" (dead mermen on beach) oil painting as an example and imagine that the waves in the lower right hand corner of the image are animated (in oil no less)... Breaking on the beach as the woman holds on to the other lost figure in the painting. Along with the sound of the ocean waves breaking, let's add some bird chirps to the painting via Flash as well. Now let's make this whole piece of work a link to the making of or "how it was done" page and you've got a very subtle way of using Flash for fine art that exponentially increases the dynamics of the work... And before anyone starts to denounce animation and claiming that the oil painting is much more powerful as a single stagnant image, leaving the viewer to interpret the emotion that the artist is trying to convey, there will probably be a few purists that will agree with you. However, the younger generation of artists growing up on multimedia and interactive game play might find it tired and "so done before" even if it truly is a masterpiece of fine art.

Animation in an otherwise still layout can add more bits of information in the same amount of space as an otherwise stagnant image does. If done properly, animation can also explain contents and story in a much more dynamic, exact, complete manner and in less amount of time. Along with random math and high definition uses, Flash has a lot more advantages than even I know of... Still.

To put a close to my rant, animated magazines might/will probably be the future... One only needs to look at all of the beautiful 2D animation that has lost out (at least for the moment) to the more rich and believable three dimensional Pixar style. There is a moment of shift and change right now due to the accessibility of multimedia creation tools and people who despise or underestimate the importance of Flash now might want to reconsider their feelings and keep an open mind... Because one day you might be forced to learn it:)

Thanks for posting a link to my conceptships blog Irene... I truly appreciate it!