Theme Spotlight: Pocket for Shopify
Our last few Shopify themes have featured responsive designs, meaning they scale content to fit different browser and device sizes. But working with desktop theme responsiveness made us curious about designing a storefront entirely for mobile. So we made Pocket.
Pocket fits a surprisingly underserved niche in Shopify. Most themes (that aren’t ours anyway) are designed specifically for desktop use, optimized to look best on big ‘n pretty displays. But Pocket is mobile-only, made to pair and fully customize to complement virtually any desktop theme. Packed with 4 presets and supremely simple setup, Pocket’s the best way to ensure that your customers have a perfect experience regardless of how they get there.
Blogs We Like: Takahiko Hayashi
Takahiko Hayashi's work is the epitome of contemporary platonism in art. There's an explicit contemplation of forms, not just in their concrete appearance but in an abstract or conceptual sense—a bundled contemplation of an element's antithesis or co-operative emptiness. Most abstract art is ultimately “about” forms in this way, but it's Hayashi's formal consistency and unabashedly philosophical motivation that really makes his experiments stand out.
Over the course of his nearly 30 years as a professional artist, Hayashi has consistently characterized his work within a context of presence and absence. Hayashi’s etched pieces are especially tied to this dialectic, quite literally making forms appear through subtraction and destruction. Hayashi’s titles are especially evocative of this philosophical, primordial-form space, reflecting on natural phenomenon while virtually never depicting them in any typically recognizable fashion.
Hayashi’s statements on his art firmly support this reading, and succinctly so. As he explains:
I try to create something from nothing. I try to capture negative to represent positive. I try to express the present with history, and east and west. It is when objects exist that nothingness can be recognized for the first time.
User Spotlight: Joel Koczwarski
Joel Koczwarski's work is an incredibly strong and technically exquisite example of humanist travel photography. An international teacher and professional photographer, Koczwarski's entire creative existence supports and affirms the notion of the artist as positive presence in the world.
As Koczwarski explains, he strives “to reveal issues surrounding human development and globalization. I began my career as a photographer to help me uncover new ideas and to overturn stale old ones.” And indeed, Joel’s work is a continually inspiring paean to humanity’s sea of novelty, manifesting the best type of aesthetic cosmopolitanism. It’s excited, confident, and engagingly warm work with a deep sense of vocational passion—making it an absolute joy to see housed in our Readymade theme.
Blogs We Like: Murooned (Ben Austin)
The first piece by Ben Austin to saunter across my screen was a small, abstract, and glitchy image titled “A Stout Woman in Bosnia Stacking Firewood.” There’s no discernible woman or firewood, and the setting could just as well be a distant stellar womb as Bosnia. Was the title a simple juxtaposition—a clinamen or random swerve in the idea’s trajectory? Why that phrase, and why this presentation?
These questions remained undecidable. In fact, I’d argue that Austin’s entire corpus is built upon undecidability: the only consistent, certain themes are a sense of self-awareness and self-criticism. And even these qualities raise an interesting point: the “self-” in the prior statement is as much the work itself as it is Austin. There’s an animated, almost sentient quality to each piece, whether it’s abstract pixel art, poetry, or quasi-ironic polemic.
Nietzsche, then, haunts Austin’s work as much as Lucretius. Although subtle, there are visible threads of recurrence and self-overcoming in every node of his art. In a commentary on Austin’s writing, poet D. Foy remarks that Ben “hides his poetry inside his poetry,” which I think sums up Austin’s idea-milieu pretty succinctly. There it is: both a poem and thought about poetry; an image and an undermining of that image; a string of information and its redoubled, reflective deconstruction.
User Spotlight: Andrea Farrow
Andrea’s previous blog was a fantastic flow of panels, single-page comics, illustrations, portraits, and more, all at varying levels of completion. It also covered Farrow’s time (and work) in Seneca College’s Independent Illustration program, an experience documented with copious volume and experimentation.
Farrow’s new portfolio picks up a year into her work as a freelance illustrator and artist. There’s an increased prevalence of digital production, along with greater sophistication of fantasy themes and an even more surgical attention to color. Farrow’s sense of narrative is even sharper as well, imbuing her larger pieces with the kind of “worldedness” that promises to richen and evolve with each project.
Shopify Spotlight: Kerry Lyons Co.
Graphic design, specifically logo and print design, has suffered from a bit of a bubble-and-burst cycle over the last few years. Not the industry as a whole, which is on a decided upswing, but rather its aesthetics: styles or approaches become popular, infect seemingly all nodes of the art, and then vanish into the ole’ historical dustbin after becoming too ubiquitous. The good side to this is that when someone offers something genuinely unique it really stands out. Kerry Lyons is absolutely one of these inventive few in an industry often depressed by herd-minded repetition.
Much of Lyons’ work operates within a heavily symbolic, sigil-like matrix of massive central elements and minimal elaboration. It maintains a hyperreal and reverential relationship with typography, resulting in constructions of incredible attention. Whether prints, postcards, or ceiling art, Lyons emphasizes the potent symbolism of the everyday, re-focused and presented with abundant affirmative energy.
It’s especially cool to see Lyons’ project in Shopify. As support wizard Calvin put it, it’s a great example of making Shopify really outshine Etsy (though that’s pretty easy), which often attracts “designy” projects like Lyons’. We built Atlantic to be a really spare, product-forward storefront, and it’s really awesome to see how well it works with a similarly-minded designer’s work.
User Spotlight - Richard Crawley
Although his most famous photograph depicts a celebrity in a frenetic, tangled state, Richard Crawley's work is generally quite placid and proletarian. The majority of Crawley's shared work depicts moments of simple stillness, self-awareness, and beauty in everyday situations.
This calm is considerably enriched by choosing the most visually captivating dimensions of “normal” life, of course, but consistently maintains its accessibility regardless of subject. As his bio notes, Crawley is aimed at exceeding the obvious to find novelty, and this passion for surpassing well-worn cliches further cements a sense of respect and affection for his images’ foci. With “a body of work spanning more than 50 years,” Crawley’s photography is among the richest and most refined we’ve ever seen.
Our Kodiak theme is available here.
Blogs We Like: Disa Wallander
Disa Wallander's comics and illustration hit far harder than many other similar projects (of which there are, obviously, very few). They're aesthetically masterful, oscillating between deconstructive/”vernacular” techniques and highly refined traditional styles. But their content, the ideas, emotions, and situations expressed through this stylistic cornucopia, are downright staggering and often hilariously sardonic.
Wallander’s intensity and strength show through her entire project, especially in its wryest moments. Going back a few years, presumably to the beginning of her time in art school, Wallander’s illustrations have a literal and figurative nudity of which few artists much further along in their careers are capable. Especially at her most openly contemplative, Wallander’s confidence and affection for her worlds are blazingly strong, and overflow with the jubilance of experimentation and unceasing novelty.
Blogs We Like: Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen's illustration presents—among many other themes—a fascinating meditation on materialism. Not in the vulgar sense of commodity fetishism, but rather the way visual elements are structured and relate. In her portraits especially, Nguyen's figures and their environments are often fundamentally entwined, both spatially and chromatically, thinning any possible line between the real and abstract, subject and object.
Nguyen’s expert melding of ink and pencil drawing with digital coloration enhances this complexity. In the yellow floral illustration above for example, there’s a delicate balance of digital textural layering and crunchy, organic line work that makes attentive gazing incredibly entrancing. Each of Nguyen’s pieces continues that thread of dreamy rapture, making it the perfect strain of incredible, dreamy stuff to accompany the weekend.
User Spotlight: Dean Gray
Urban photography is rarely given credit for its universality. Each city and photographer possess a wide array of particular characteristics, but there’s an energy or intention that’s present in all cities. It’s a sense of collective will, in a way: a tone to the madness of high-density population that is, even at its most chaotic, affirmative. Cities are places where huge volumes of people are, for the most part, trying to get along.
Dean Gray's photography captures this affirmative aspect of urban life with an often amazing level of local particularity sprinkled on top. Whether portraits, landscapes, architecture, or simple walking-around shots, Gray's engagement with and enthusiasm for visual documentation reflects an incredibly inspiring and hopeful side to Eastern Scotland. It's empathic work that offers its nuanced universality through celebrating beautiful particularities.
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