Tuesday, April 05, 2011

End of an Era

Back in 1996, I picked up a book on HTML at a local bookstore. Now, some of you may have been born around that time, so let me paint the picture a little: Firefox's grandfather, Netscape Navigator, was in version 2.0. The internet on Netscape's father, Mosaic, was so poor and difficult to get around on on my 28.8 modem, that I went to a store and purchased the browser in a box.

I then learned the bulk of basic HTML, played around a lot, and created my first website, mostly by hand-coding. That website, hosted on my dial-up internet provider account, was called Daydream Graphics. That I created it showed a certain technological impatience on my part. I wanted a website for my own work, and I was frustrated that so few artists had websites back then. In 1996. In retrospect, given the state of the internet and my own efforts to get one up, it made complete sense why no one wanted to bother. As it is, many artists don't want to bother even now, or to maintain one that's been put up. So, I reached out to some friends and said, "Look, I'm doing the work already. Why don't I do it for all of us?" It was harder back then to find your way to various artists websites, so having us all grouped together, in theory, would mean more people would find us, and then find the others. Cross-pollination.

The business model was based on a couple of key goals, which were and remain important to me, having been on the butt-end of so many deals illustrators get handed:
  1. I would take a modest commission on sales and facilitate everything. A real gallery can easily take up to 50% of sales. Granted, they have rents and the like. Still, that means that the price of art increases significantly, since if an artist wants to eat, they either raise their prices to account for some of that, or they suffer for the benefit of getting their work out there. I took as low a commission as I could.
  2. Pay artists reliably and on time. I've been stiffed on payments plenty of times as an illustrator, so I promised I would never, ever, stiff an artist. I paid quarterly, and in 15 years have never once stiffed an artist. There were a couple of times when expenses had fallen past income. In those cases, I wrote a check out of my personal account. At worst I was late a few days, usually due to deadlines...in an industry when months-long delays can be common.
Beyond that, customer service is always a huge goal for any business. Because I was working with illustrators who sometimes disappeared under deadlines, the bulk of my issues ended up being trying to keep a customer informed on the status of an occasionally late order.

Over the 15 years I've worked on DDG, I have greatly enjoyed getting to know many of the artists who came and went, and when I was able to write a large check to any of them from time to time, I felt warm fuzzies knowing I was contributing to the careers of an illustrator whose work I admired. Some artists eventually moved on, but never with any acrimony. Sometimes an illustrator was just ready to take control of their web presence. Sometimes their career changed to where they had other web presence needs. Whatever the case, there was never any ill will at all among any of us.

Because of all that, I do have a little sadness in saying that as of May 1, 2011, or near enough, Daydream Graphics will close up shop.

I say a little sadness, because it just feels right, it's the right time. Had I been forced to close up earlier, I would've been much more sad about it. But, the world has moved on, and probably had moved on awhile back. The writing has been on the wall for a couple of years now. I spent a good amount of time thinking and deciding whether it was worth my time to overhaul the whole thing again for a new era, what that would entail; I did some research and crunched some numbers and decided against it. All the factors were properly aligned, and so I'm letting it go.

All the artists were told about this 6 months ago or so, so they could make plans to migrate their sites elsewhere. Whether they do or not is up to them. Any custom URLs they have should point you to their sites, as they become available.

Some changes, moving forward:
  1. We will cease taking orders via DDG April 15th. That may include my own site, temporarily, although I am close to having changes done that would mitigate any loss of service on my site. We will continue to honor all customer support for outstanding orders until they are cleared out.
  2. About May 1, the artists' sites will be pulled down. My own site should stay up during that time.
  3. Shortly after May 1, my own site (http://gallegosart.com), will migrate to the home page. As you know, currently the site lives at gallegosart.com/artists/gallegos/whatever. After that, it'll simply move up two folders to gallegosart.com/whatever. I plan to keep all existing links working, with code that will redirect old links to their new homes, invisibly.
  4. At that time, visiting daydream-graphics.com will simply take you to gallegosart.com. The DDG header bar on my site will disappear.
  5. Hopefully with no break, the store aspect of my site will resume. I'm working on it now. At that time, it will be completely integrated with PayPal checkout, bypassing DDG's now-cumbersome checkout process and its rusty errors.
So, for those of you who visit my blog and my site, it should remain up the whole time, with only a few bumps. In the end, you'll get a better gallegosart.com and this page as a memory of DDG.

Thanks to all the artists who have called DDG their home over the years: Matt Wilson, Bryon Wackwitz, Drew Tucker, Ben Thompson, Jean-Pierre Targete, Brian Snoddy, Adam Rex, RK Post,  Terese Nielsen, Jim NelsonJeff Miracola, Quinton Hoover, Liz Danforth, Matt Cavotta, and Jason Behnke. Many apologies if I've forgotten someone.

And thanks to you for your support of DDG over the years. Your patronage made a real impact in the lives of the artists you've supported. You literally helped put roofs over our heads and food in our bellies.

Those of you who continue to follow my work--thanks for doing so. We'll continue riding this track without the other box cars. See you next week!