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Sven Ellingen is known as sthmtc on the Textpattern forum (he suffered from asthma when he was young but it has now completely disappeared), lives in Cologne and is well-known for designing Carhartt Streetwear a high profile multi-national fashion outlet. He took time out from his exams to answer some questions. Thanks, Sven, and good luck with the exams!
TXPQ What is life all about?
SE Oh, tough question. Can't come up with some witty answer at the moment, either.
TXPQ What motivates you or makes you tick?
SE I'd say I have a strong urge to learn, create and always get better at the things I do.
TXPQ Would you like to say anything about where you live, family, friends, interests?
SE I'm currently living with my girlfriend in a nice but somewhat overpriced flat in Cologne, Germany. I'm a huge music nerd. Apart from that I'm into photography, and all things design. Bad at sports.
TXPQ You've gone for a minimal svenellingen.com. Any reason why?
SE I want my work to get most of the attention. That's really what the site is for (at least at the moment). There's a pretty basic underlying grid and some typographical conventions but that's about it. That way, it allows me to quickly add new types of content to the site and possibly move on to future incarnations while still maintaining a consistent look.
TXPQ Clicking the stream link is quite a contrast! Large text with all kinds of links to all kinds of creative pages such as Sweet Gifs.
SE The stream is just my take at a lifestream. It aggregates my delicious links, twitter updates, and flickr photos. Not everything goes to the site though, only specifically tagged items. So it's a blog without a blog if you like. I can decide which items are "stream worthy" and different formatting is applied based on source and/or category.
TXPQ I suspect you are more than a web designer and you are taking exams at the Cologne International School of Design?
It's an interdisciplinary program which means that I got insight into all fields of design practice, such as product design, traditional graphic design, typography, and so on.SE I'm currently graduating at Köln International School of Design (KISD) where I study "Design". It's an interdisciplinary program which means that I got insight into all fields of design practice, such as product design, traditional graphic design, typography, and so on. I focus on interface design (which includes, but is of course not limited to web design), which is also the field I'm graduating in.
Since 2004, I've worked as a self-employed freelancer. In regards to that, I mostly do web design and development. Occasionally I do animation/motion graphics.
TXPQ Impressive portfolio (not just the content but the way it works too). Large manufacturer Carhartt employed you for the whole information architecture, site design, code and implementation. How did you manage to get such a high profile job? Any special problems you had to overcome?
SE When the guys at Carhartt Streetwear decided that they needed to relaunch their website, they collected a handful of sites to get an idea in what direction they could go with it. One of said sites, that were included in their list of inspirational sites, was in fact weknowrap.com, which I did. They got in touch with me, we had a few meetings and then they decided to just go for it.
There were no major problems to overcome really. Of course, a lot of custom development (i.e. the product catalog and store finder) had to be done. These things came from Christian Belka, who's a great developer and overall cool guy with whom I closely work together on other projects as well.
We Know Rap
TXPQ I take it you're into hip-hop with several projects. How did We Know Rap come about?
It was this blog that later evolved into weknowrap.com, a multi-authored blog where we try to pick up interesting stories about rap or the hiphop culture in generalSE You're right. I'm into hip hop, used to DJ, hosted a radio show, collected tons of vinyl and all that. Somewhere in 2004, I decided to start a blog covering rap music. It was this blog that later evolved into weknowrap.com, a multi-authored blog where we try to pick up interesting stories about rap or the hiphop culture in general. We have no intentions to be perceived as a portal, online magazine or something like that. To us, it's just a blog where we can post stuff if we want to and try to meet a certain standard in writing. The daily news business/blog hype is better served by others.
As for other rap-related projects I'm involved in: last year me and my mate Moritz Guth were asked to design the website for Juice magazine, which is the biggest European hip hop magazine. There's a small preview of that in my portfolio but the site is still being developed by a third party.
TXPQ How much do you use Textpattern? Why?
I find that it works quite well for the clients as well. I never heard a single complaint about Textpattern being to difficult to use or something like thisSE Whenever it fits the purpose, I go for Textpattern. And that is actually quite often. I'm absolutely in love with the templating language, the XHTML-like tag structure and all of that. Also, I find that it works quite well for the clients as well. I never heard a single complaint about Textpattern being to difficult to use or something like this. Most of the time, I'm providing some basic customizations in the backend (the dashboard is extremely helpful to give customers quick access to the various sections while staying within the language of the project) and then a rough step-by-step guide and a quick brief usually is enough to get them going.
TXPQ How do you like the plugin system?
SE The plugin system works great, if you're not worried about running a lot of plugins (which has never been a problem for me or performance wise) you can turn Textpattern into almost any direction you want. It's also quite easy to write plugins that extend the core functionalities.
TXPQ Have you any favourite plugins you always use?
SE Absolutely! I'd say my favourite plugins are gbp_permanent_links by the extremely helpful Graeme Porteus which allows you to easily implement any url scheme you can think of, glz_custom_fields that provides better controls for custom fields (from Gerhard Lazu), sed_section_fields that takes Textpattern one step closer to custom content types. And some smaller ones to complete the list: chh_if_data (might be obsolete now due to smd_if but i'm still using it all the time) and Mary's wonderfully versatile image handling plugin upm_image. Last but not least Ruud's rvm_maintenance and rvm_if_privileged are absolutely crucial to my development workflow.
TXPQ Is there anything about TXP you would like to see improved?
SE My biggest complaint is that Textpattern stores everything (page templates, forms, etc) in the database. While I understand and sometimes appreciate the reasoning behind it (easy to backup, everything is accessible from a web browser), to me, it just adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to the developing process. From my experience working with multiple people on large scale websites that are spread among multiple staging servers, this is a real problem. I'd love to be able to just work within a regular filesystem and be able to do proper versioning and then easily deploy changes. It surely is something I can live with (there are quite a few workarounds that make things easier) but still, to me, it's the one thing I'd love to be changed.
Categories: Web Designer