Elam Contemporary Art School has become a cultural icon and stepping stone for the majority of New Zealand’s revered artists. The School’s contribution to New Zealand arts and culture is substantial, but there was a strong need to establish an online presence that validated and gave credibility to that reputation.
Understanding that they needed something unique, Elam reached out to us to create a new digital experience that would profile their artists and communicate the School’s progressive learning environment in a way that would engage their audiences.
More than an online catalogue of student artwork, the new site echoes the way in which we experience and read about art in both digital and physical spaces. Reflecting on how people use online art-based journals we created an intuitive experience that had a sequential flow, like that of a book. At the same time, the site is intended to be experienced in an explorative way, reminiscent of a person’s relaxed navigation through a gallery or exhibition space. The site became an extension of these experiences, with Elam trusting along the way that these characteristics would therefore feel natural for their audiences.
The website’s design answered the need to both lift the School’s reputation in the digital space and not overshadow the students — making room for, and supporting their artwork.
We handed the reins over to the students to directly upload their work and as each graduate shared their projects to the site, we watched as it formed a digital journal profiling each and every student in a way that was unique to them. What emerged was a site that reflected both the explorative nature of Elam, and the outstanding level of work produced by the students.
Knowing that universities are now speaking to a generation of digital natives, Elam sought to build an online catalogue that would share the story of its students in a genuine, clear and engaging way. Having accurately captured their story, the site not only supports the School’s reputation as the top-ranking place to study art in New Zealand, but has started a living online resource that profiles some of our country's best creative thinkers.
With a newly established online presence, Elam has further validated themselves as the thought leaders within New Zealand's arts and culture, and the space where artists learn and unlearn how to develop their talent and skill.