Prairie Portrait: Josh Lawler of Oriental Trading Company
Name: Josh Lawler
Bio: Iowa-born web designer/developer by day, singer/songwriter by night.
Title: Web Designer at Oriental Trading Company, Inc.
Residence: Omaha, Neb.
Intro music: "I'm Amazed" by My Morning Jacket
Silicon Prairie News: With Oriental Trading Company, you're designing for users looking to make purchases that are usually fun and whimsical. How if at all do you try to reinforce those feelings with your design?
Josh Lawler: While the majority of our current product selection at Oriental Trading Company is geared towards children, our users are adults planning events for those children. As far as our web presence is concerned, we attempt to bridge this gap by using subtle design elements such as rounded corners and fonts to reflect safety, bright colors to reflect our culture and mission of making the world more fun and photographs of human faces to make emotional connections to our users.
SPN: What do you consider the three best-designed logos you have seen recently, and why?
JL: I'll controversially admit that I am a fan of the new Brooklyn Nets branding. It's bold, and risky, but I think it takes a good step away from all the sports branding cliches we've blindly followed in the past. I also really liked the simplicity of CourseKits "Lore" rebranding; the accompanying microsites were really beautiful. Lastly, I think Oxide nailed the Big Omaha logo again this year. More impressive than the logo itself was the execution of all the collateral. Fantastic attention to detail as usual from the Big Omaha/Oxide team.
SPN: For someone like you who's both a designer and musician, the album cover is a place where two pursuits collide. So tell me, what's your take on what cover art should achieve or convey?
JL: This is an interesting question because some people feel cover art has lost its importance in the age of the internet. I, however, buy a lot of music on vinyl (with free mp3 downloads of course) not only for the sound quality, but because big, physical album artwork enhances the overall music experience tremendously, and has the ability to create a deeper connection between a musician and their fans.
SPN: In your musical pursuits, how has the viral, accessible nature of music on the web been beneficial? How has it been detrimental?
JL: My last album release was entirely digital. I've long been a believer in the "pay-what-you-want" model, which I was able to use firsthand and saw great results with. The web allows musicians like myself a very inexpensive way to get my music in front of as many listeners as possible — for a price, or not – which a major record label may see as detrimental, but I see as incredibly powerful.
SPN: You attended Big Omaha and were active on Twitter throughout the conference. Now, can you sum all that Twitter activity up in one tweet? Your takeaways from Big Omaha in 140 characters (and yes, I'm counting) … GO!
JL: Ideas are free, and the gate keepers have all been removed. Don't wait for perfect circumstances - build your ideas now.
Credits: Photo courtesy of Lawler.
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