The new Illustration Friday!

If you haven't stopped by Illustration Friday in a while, please wander over! The site is brand new... a complete overhaul, front-end and back-end. Front end means the art submitted is a lot more accessible and easily viewable for participants and on-lookers in need of some inspiration.

The new format makes the art the first thing you see, and it's beautiful to see the images stacking up as artists come up with their own, unique interpretations of the week's topic. It's those different interpretations that make me smile especially. It's like agility training for the brain -- seeing how different artists depict concepts, the thinking behind them and the visual execution. I think just paying attention to that might make someone a better illustrator.

Design-wise, I always lean toward clean, sparse design. Illustration Friday posed a huge challenge though. There's a lot that needed to be present on that front page. The topic, first and foremost, so people could get the idea right away. The name of the site, of course. The welcome summary. The Pick of the Week. And so on. It was like a giant puzzle trying to get it all to fit, and fit in a pleasing way.

I had many rounds of designs that hit the scrap pile before coming up with this one that works. And even then it was round after round of tweaks to get it right. I am incredibly grateful that my friend, and amazing web designer, Josh Sears was able to help me through the process. He's an old pro at web work, and he was my second pair of eyes to test things and work with the developers. His collaboration was invaluable. I really could not have done it without him.

So far the site has been a huge hit. There will always be nay-sayers (you wouldn't believe some of the nasty stuff people feel compelled to email me!), but overall, participants are loving it. Their artwork looks better than ever. The art community we forged years ago is growing quickly. And inspiration abounds.

I couldn't be happier to offer Illustration Friday to such a cool bunch of artists, draw-ers, and doodlers. Seeing their art makes me want to create more and more. And I hope the site will inspire that in others. :)