We received this email from Jenny Kendler and Brian Kirkbride, the owners of Other People’s Pixels, in response to a recent post written by one of our regular bloggers, Martine Syms. We welcome Jenny Kendler and Brian Kirkbride’s response, and those of any other readers who wish to comment on our posts. Bad at Sports does not have an editorial mandate or even an “editor” proper; we are a loose network of individuals who pursue our interests relatively independently of one another. Our blog offers a platform to writers who provide interesting points of view on their areas of specialty, but Bad at Sports does not collectively edit or vet those posts. It is understood among all of our writers that they as individuals must take personal responsibility for what they write. In turn, we will enthusiastically publish thoughtful responses to our posts here on the blog, and we encourage readers who have differing points of view or who simply wish to comment, to do so via email.
Dear Bad at Sports,
Jenny Kendler here. A friend pointed us towards Martine Syms’ recently published article on OtherPeoplesPixels, which is the portfolio website service that I run with my husband, Brian Kirkbride. I’ve written an article for you in the past, for Off-Topic, and really like and admire what you do at Bad at Sports.
Brian and I started OPP as a project for our friends who had asked us for help making a website, while I was in grad school at SAIC. We were pleased and surprised when they told their friends, who told their friends, and 5 years later we have happy customers all over the world. We’ve continued to work to improve OPP, tailoring it specifically to the needs of artists and incorporating many, many suggestions from our customers.
Undoubtedly, there will be people for whom OPP is not a good fit, but for us it was and is a way to help artists (who too often get the short stick in the economy) to share and promote their work online, in a flexible, friendly, and inexpensive way. Again, what is (or is not) considered inexpensive will no doubt be a individual issue. Unfortunately, the alternative is often a free generic website that offers no customer support and requires a lot of making-do, or a an expensive custom site from a designer, which many working artists cannot afford. We feel that for super-friendly customer support, a domain name, email, hosting, no worries about the tech-stuff, and a customizable site that can be updated for free at any time, $160 a year is a fair price. It ends up being the cost of just a couple beers a month. In addition, we try to always offer free websites to non-profits, and work with people if they are having a hard time in this economy.
Our slogan “Spend time on your artwork, not on your website” does not suggest that people should not care about their websites, but quite the opposite: that people can set up and maintain a website that they can be proud of in a minimum of time — spending more of their hours making art, instead of resizing .jpgs, tweaking code or yelling at their computers. Although some designers may want to spend more time on their websites, we’ve found that most artists don’t.
OtherPeoplesPixels is also dedicated to supporting the art community that supports us. At the end of 2010, we started The OtherPeoplesPixels Fund which provides grants to non-profits working for the arts, the environment, and social justice around the world.
And since the Chicago art-scene in particular is home base for us, we’re involved in many efforts to support artists locally. I work and show as an artist in Chicago, and serve as a member of the Board at both threewalls Gallery and the ACRE Residency. OPP is also co-sponsoring threewalls’ upcoming art CSA, and we routinely speak around the city to encourage artists to start their own businesses. Upcoming plans for OPP include starting an art space to promote socially and environmentally engaged art — and we’d love to start a grant program for individual OPP and Chicago artists.
We would have been interested to see a candid discussion about where OPP could improve, and in fact are always soliciting constructive criticism to improve our service — but I didn’t find Martine Syms’ article to have much basis for it’s position — especially her public call “for a moratorium on OtherPeoplesPixels websites.” Though OPP may not be right for everyone, we work hard to help our customers get what they want and need from a portfolio website. From manning the support desk, I can report that we get a ginormous amount of emails from people who are absolutely thrilled about, and proud of, their websites.
Thanks for the chance for us to offer a response to this article, and we welcome comments from anyone at: firstname.lastname@example.org
-Jenny Kendler & Brian Kirkbride