PROFILE: Marketing Mix October 1997

 From an October profile/interview featured in Marketing Mix Vol. 15 #9:

Stephen Embleton, a 23 year-old graphic designer and typographer, is applying creative design to the Net to produce award winning Websites.

Embleton designs for Armadillo, an Internet publishing and multimedia company, now part of Ogilvy & Mather. He started out in print design for the parent company after graduating from Natal Technikon in 1995. He accepted a position as a Web designer at the newly-formed company although, he admits, he had no clue what it was all about.

''I didn't have an idea of what the Internet should look like," he confesses. ''My designs don't really look like an Internet design as such," - which is probably one of the things that sets them apart.

According to Embleton, there is a lot missing from current Web designs. ''You get onto the Internet and most pages are more tiring and boring than what can be done in print;' he says. This, he feels, is largely because local designers are not original enough and borrow too much from Western design concepts. Another group he singles out for criticism is the numerous ''DTP operators working from home just churning out work without any design skills.'' One of the local agencies which he does respect, however, is Orange Juice Design whose work has a great influence on his own.

For the most part, his design influences are South African. ''I try to feed off what we've got here," he says, but designing for the Web also has limitations. These include not being able to produce fine detail and resolution as well as the problem of speed. It takes at least two weeks to design a site from start to finish. On the positive side, there is a wide range of colours available to Web designers that is not available in print. Embleton says that another is learning something more every day about the Web's endless possibilities. One of his better known sites is for Matchmakers which features lots of hearts. ''That was quite fun," he says. ''I went out on a limb for that really kitsch feeling." His favourite site is, however, a simpler one for Durban Child Welfare.

What advice does he have for his peers? ''A lot of South African designers should start going to their roots and design from Africa."

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