Sydney Van Orden
Describe your creative practice. Are you a visual artist, musician, craftsperson, apparel designer, blogger, etc?
I am a graphic designer currently working in-house for an electrical engineering company in Stuttgart, Germany. In this position, I direct myself in developing overall layout and production designs for the user interfaces of touch panels and iPhone/Android apps, instruction manuals and guides, brochures, signage, information graphics, symbols and icons, PowerPoint presentations, and websites.
In addition to my day job, I have taken on freelance and self-initiated projects, such as designing websites, business cards and illustrations. I am passionate about telling people’s stories and sharing in their ambitions, creating community, and producing a product that aides a person’s daily life, helping them communicate in a way they could not before.
Though the work produced at my 9 to 5 is drastically different than what you can see on my portfolio, both practices have positively influenced one another and more than anything strengthened my love of design and work ethic.
How does social media affect your practice?
Until recently, very little. I am currently in the process of developing my own personal blog (please excuse the design, it is a work in progress). Blogging is an excellent way to promote your business, showing the personal side of what you do, as well as where you find inspiration. As a designer, I believe this avenue is vital to my practice.
Do you promote your work via the internet? Why do you use the internet?
I have a portfolio site to showcase my work, as well as give people a look into who I am. As stated previously, my blog is in its early stages. I believe the internet is becoming vital to the creative practice, not only do we search for inspiration but are able to connect and follow other artists. Living overseas, I have found the internet to be invaluable in staying connected to an artistic community (even just friends through Facebook) and up to date on trends. I am also on Instagram, though that is more just for fun, but it can also be a great way to promote your aesthetic and creative eye.
What are some websites, social networks or other digital media that you find yourself using, loving and/or lurking on a somewhat regular basis?
I find WordPress to be a great blogging platform. Many people still use blogger and with a nice template this can work but many look incredibly standard and outdated. Tumblr comes in a decent second.
Lastly, as Jamie said, Mail Chimp is an excellent resource for newsletters and email subscriptions.
Are there any creative people [visual artist, musician, craftsperson, apparel designer, blogger, etc] who are using web platforms in a particularly interesting way?
This graphic designer has really made blogging her business: http://www.designlovefest.com/ She also co-teaches a blogging Photoshop class: http://iheartblogshop.com/
Are there any websites/web platforms that you have found to be less helpful, not as interesting or even taboo for creative people to use?
I have not come across any platforms or websites that are utterly taboo. Just do your research and learn what you need to. (If you are terrified of designing websites: here is a nice introduction to HTML & CSS http://www.dontfeartheinternet.com/)
What advice would you give to artists, musicians, bloggers, and online retailers?
Don’t wait, get your name out there and promote yourself. There are so many resources out there to draw knowledge and inspiration from, especially free ways to develop a website (though, with just a little bit of cash you can develop something that will stand out). Having your own website is especially vital to send to potential clients and employers–so, get it up and running now so you can continually makes updates as needed.