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The Birth of Design is Kinky

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In: Articles

By Andrew Johnstone

Published on July 9, 2000

When Nick asked me to write an article for Digital Web I, as I suspect a lot of people would, thought that I should come up with some lofty arty and hopefully intelligent subject. But then I realised that that is not what I'm about. I am not saying I'm not intelligent I am just saying that I don't particularly like writing about that kind of stuff. So I'm not going to. Instead I am going to tell you the history of Design is Kinky. I am hoping that this story will help people understand that web sites have a history just like anything else and that they have a life as well. They are living breathing entities that all have their own little stories. Here's mine...

BK [Before Kinky]
In the cold dark days before the dawn of the Kinky its creator (we shall call him Andrew, as that is his name) was but a virgin in the fertile slopes of web design. He had recently arrived home after a long trip overseas and had purchased a wicked new Powerbook G3, or 'Slick' as it was to become known. Like all good Mac freaks he got online and was amazed at what he saw. Being trained in the heady arts of Graphic Design he decided that he "Wanted a go at that" and so with the help of trusty Slick he did and he spawned a few rather silly Mac GUI related sites. Notably the bizarrely named 'Screenshot Central' and 'Desktop Insanity'. These didn't last long.

One warm summer's day Andrew was frolicking around the web, surfing this way and that when he stumbled upon the big Goliath, also known as Zeldman.com. "Good golly" he said "People can actually make money and talk in intellectual type language stuff about this web design lark!" Well our Andrew was stunned. He checked out all of Zeldman's stuff and came across a link to a weirdly named site called Kaliber10000. The first words to escape his lips when he went there where "Fark!" so this is what web design is really all about he thought. He was hooked and began to check out all the linked sites with a vengeance.

Conception
Now Andrew was not the type to sit idly while other people had fun on the net and made cool designs. He wanted to become involved and so he sat down with his trusty note pad and started writing down some ideas for a site. He was not interested in making a portfolio site as he hadn't really done anything yet and he really enjoyed reading interviews with other designers on the web. So he decided to create a site to profile cool web designers whose work he enjoyed. Not only that but as he was born and bred in that land down the bottom of the map (Australia for you kids without Maps) he wanted to profile Australian designers as well as their international allies.

Labour
Andrew then set about emailing basically anyone and everyone whose designs he liked. He got a good response from people and soon found that the design scene had some really generous and helpful people in it. Even those at the 'big' sites. Faster than you could say 'Cor Blimey, strike a light and blow me down' Andrew had the first few designers ready to be profiled. Now all he needed was a site and a name.

The name was going to be the hard part. Andrew knew that a name could make or break a site. The name was very important and he had no idea what it was going to be. He checked out other sites and realised that a catchy, quirky name was often the best answer. So he started going through all the swear words he knew. He had always been fond of calling people dickheads but didn't think that was appropriate (although dickhead.com is quite amusing). So he thought Dick, except without the c. "Hmmm..." he thought, not bad. But what does it mean? It had to stand for something. Like most points in your past like this Andrew can not really remember exactly how it popped into his head. It just did! Design is Kinky.

Birth
He then set about designing the site. His skills were limited but he stuck in there and soon started to form a rough plan and also had some funky graphics happening. Grunge was very much in at that stage and Andrew had fun using big grunge fonts over crazy or funny images of clowns and babies. Most importantly he was having a load of fun doing it all and this he thought was the whole point.

After a week or so of late nights the site was ready to be launched. It seemed to work OK and that was all Andrew cared about. He was just ready to get it all up and see what people thought. So he posted the site and went about the time consuming process of emailing people his link so that other people could find it. The feedback was good. People liked the design and thought the concept and ideas were pretty cool also. The fact that Andrew had gained support from some of the webs most well respected designers also helped alert the community to its presence. Andrew was very happy and started to think of ways to make the site grow. He was really enjoying profiling other designers and found it interesting to read about them. He also enjoyed trying to find Australian designers who although definitely out there where not so easy to find. It was around this time that he first met Jade.

Puberty
Over a period of time the site kept getting more popular and the amount of designers profiled began to grow. The site was doing well and as Andrew was still enjoying it and having fun he had no thoughts on slowing down. He decided to redesign and in doing so tried to make the site function a bit easier. The redesign was nice, it improved the site a lot and allowed for more fun to be had by changing the inside page... which Andrew always had fun designing.

After one of his many bizarre conversations over ICQ with Jade, Andrew had an idea for a new section on the site called MUGSHOT. After having swapped countless emails with people over the net he had often wondered what they look like. After all you can't really tell much about a person by their emails. So a section was spawned. Andrew invited anyone and everyone to send in a picture of themselves to be posted on MUGSHOT. It was and still is a very successful little section with over 150 mugs already posted and many more to come.

By now Jade has become a fully fledged member of Design is Kinky and he also had a great idea for a new section. It was to be called Theory and would invite designers to discuss relevant issues and ideas about the web and web design. Although only one theory has been finished it is already a popular section that has inspired conversation and discussion on other sites around the web. Theory is looking like it will grow into something very cool.

What's Next?
The boys at Design is Kinky feel that they are still only in their puberty and are hoping to soon take the site into the scary world of the teenagers. You know those big sites that everyone knows and enjoys. Andrew and Jade are hoping that by simply doing what they have been doing, having fun and enjoying themselves, the site will grow and that new section's and new collaborations will pop up. They have some exciting new profiles coming up and will continue to bring you interviews of cool designers that they respect. They hope you keep coming back and also said that you should feel free to e-mail them and let them know how you feel about the site. Come on now don't be shy!

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Andrew Johnstone spends almost every spare moment surfing Porn, and on the odd occasion updates stuff on Design is Kinky and also helps out at Australian INfront. During the day he surfs more Porn when the boss isn't looking which is quite often as he is sort of his own boss as Art Director of Artichoke Web Design in Sydney, Australia.

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