On first glance I wasn’t really sure what to make of the website of graphic artist Paul Flannery. The homepage is done in a very minimalist style, presenting merely Paul Flannery’s name (which happens to also be a link redirecting you straight back to the exact same page, I’m not really sure the purpose of including that on the homepage,) a menu of links, and an image consisting of a collage of webpage background art (although the image’s relevance is not apparent until after you have explored the links). There is very little explanation, even if you click the link labeled ‘Info’. On browsing I got the overall impression that the site was set up as a blog, as many of the images were followed by forms so that visitors may comment on them. It appeared to me that the ‘homepage’ was actually more of a menu of tags, providing shortcuts to specific blog posts by category.
The primary content of this website is digital art that appears to me to be geared towards providing people with a resource for website graphics. The majority of the art is abstract and there are also a series of animated GIFs. He seems very skilled to me at digitally creating three dimensional textures.
If you click one of his top links labeled ‘Bg_img’ you will find a series of catalogs of website background wallpapers. Clicking an image prompts you to download a PDF which has a series of different backgrounds listed in succession and grouped together by theme (for example there is a set of ‘nature themed’ backgrounds and a set of ‘star themed’ backgrounds, etc). At the top of each PDF is a table of contents listing website addresses where the backgrounds were originally used so that you may see how the background might appear with text and other website content layered over it. This is all organized very practically but the text in the gallery is not very straightforward to me. It talks about the purpose of backgrounds in relation to websites but I found the wording a bit awkward and overly poetical. It did not read to me like it was aimed at an average person, but rather someone who would already know exactly what they were looking at. There is also no credit to the creation of the art of the backgrounds. I would be inclined to assume that it was made by Paul Flannery himself, being that it is showcased on his website…but it wasn’t very clear to me if he actually created them or merely collected and cataloged them. Perhaps they were all made by the maintainers of the sites where they are given as examples, I couldn’t really be sure. To me it wasn’t especially clear what I was looking at until after clicking the images and downloading the PDFs. I personally do not find this the best way of showcasing the work because I know quite a lot of people who are reluctant to download things from the internet and would be hesitant to proceed after first clicking an image, canceling the download request before getting a chance to see what was in it. What’s further, although it is fairly standard, not every single computer is equipped with Adobe Acrobat Reader, or other PDF compatable programs, so some people may be unable to view the PDFs after downloading.
All that aside, there was a very nice spectrum of different backgrounds represented, ranging from realistic images of the outdoors, to generic textures (like crinkled paper or metal) to very simple color gradients. Some of the backgrounds featured tiles that fit together so smoothly I found the overall affect very impressively seamless. Others looked more segmented to me and not quite as professionally done. There was definitely a sliding scale of design quality represented.
I am not really sure what the purpose of his animated GIFs were. They predominantly seemed to consist of flashing and rotating colors, and looked more like animation experiments to me than anything with a purpose. But not having very much knowledge about programming or web design I felt that maybe I was missing some insider knowledge about them that might be obvious to other viewers. The QuickTime movie of sliding scrollbars (An Arena in Which to Act) was fairly amusing and seemed more like art with a purpose than most of the other animated pieces.
Overall there was quite a lot of artistic content in Paul Flannery’s site and I was quite impressed by his obvious skill in using a lot of different digital mediums. His site was interactive in a lot of different ways and there was definitely a lot of programming knowledge required to put it together, and not merely artistic talent to create the content. However I would have found the site improved with more explanations and clearer text so that it was more user friendly towards the layman stumbling across it.