Updated: Feb 5, 2020
Well, I have a new website! This came about after a certain degree of frustration with the old site, which had limitations on what could be done within the design template I was using, however I'm very grateful to all at carbonmade.com for providing a solid portal for so long up until now. I'm hoping this new site will eventually include a shop of some kind, perhaps selling prints and originals, but one thing at a time.
I thought I'd share this old chap again, as it was drawn for the top page of my very first website back in 1999. It's my Captain Adventurer, sailing off on a voyage across the Internet, hoisting colours and setting course for the mysteries of the cyber world. And it was a real mystery for me then, one of the biggest being website design and promotion. Needless to say, I didn't make my own website, all that was skillfully made in the hands of my old friend John Woodward in Tokyo, a bespoke miracle of design and technical knowledge I've never been able to fathom. John felt the top page needed an image that summed up my style and provided a friendly entrance into my "world" of illustration, hence the Captain. Well, here he is, still manning the decks, doing the same job, I can't believe this drawing is 20 years old now!
Web design has moved on since the end of the '90's of course. My original site became gradually loaded with images and features until it was heavy with clutter, with pages in English and Japanese, a smorgasbord of advertising and publishing work. By the time I left Japan I was in the process of having a completely new site created by another, even older friend, as I was still as ignorant of web design as ever. Unfortunately that didn't quite work out. The planned new site was never finished, then the technician holding the domain disappeared too, leaving me with no site at all, so, desperate for at least some web platform, I was recommended to Carbonmade and their simple, but effective portfolio template, which served to fill in until I could arrange a new "proper" replacement website. That was 10 years ago, I ended up sticking with the template for a lot longer than anticipated as it displayed my work adequately, though it was limited for other functions. But now, finally, thanks to the new tools at Wix and encouragement from friends (cheers Candy!) I have my new site! Thank goodness web design has become a bit more fathomable with the easy to use tools available now, even I can get a grip on it.
Apart from being a new decade, there was another reason behind launching a new site now, as, due to server problems (and my own stumbling progress with technology), my former domain address jshelley.com stopped working before Christmas, and is only now returning to my control. Although I still own the domain, it doesn't point anywhere at the moment (though this is hopefully being fixed as I write), so, as I'm using a new domain address, it was high time I put together a new website to go with it!
With the growth of social media I pondered for a moment whether websites are quite as necessary for illustrators as before. Instagram seems to be at least as important nowadays, but it is important to have a "home base" to show the full range of work, especially for children's book illustrators - with links to books, and, in the case of author-illustrators who visit schools, provide some background and resources towards workshops.
All in all then, lots of changes for the new decade! Onwards!