Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

Early Theme Adopters: Isola

Whether you’re a personal blogger, a designer, or an artist, Isola gives you a bright, clean space to showcase your work. Its minimalist design stays crisp across devices and screens of all sizes, with generous white space to keep the focus on your content.

Isola, a free theme, comes with numerous customization options, from featured images and custom header images to sleek post formats. Let’s take a look at three sites that are already using it to great effect.

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Leon Scott, who writes thoughtful posts on design and technology on his aptly-named blog, makes the most of Isola‘s out-of-the-box look. He kept the layout simple and clean; all the widgets are tucked into a panel off screen.

Many of Leon’s posts — like the one shown above — include featured images, which establish their tone and also add a welcome burst of color.

Beyond the Black Mountain

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The environmentally-conscious blogger who writes at Beyond the Black Mountain focuses on the intersection between fashion and eco-friendly living. Her site’s vibe echoes her approach elsewhere, with a stylish, spare look. A moody custom header image coupled with a retro serif font (Ambroise, which is available with the Custom Design upgrade) personalize Isola even further.

a dimpleate blog

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The blogger behind a dimpleate, based in Northern Virginia, has created a photo-heavy lifestyle blog that still maintains an airy, clean feel. She uses Isola‘s image and gallery post formats to highlight the beautiful images, linking them to her Flickr galleries for visitors who wish to explore more of her work.

Have you also customized Isola? Is there another theme you’d like to see featured here? Let us know in the comments.

Filed under: Customization, Themes
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Ten Illustrators To Follow Now

From sketches to digital art narratives, here’s a visual journey into the worlds of ten illustrators on WordPress.com.

Brad Young

The drawings at Brad Young Art capture life’s little moments. From pen and ink to watercolor, and gardening to food to neighborhood spots, it’s easy to get lost sifting through Brad’s mix of doodles and sketches.

Sarah Goodreau

Sarah Goodreau, an illustrator living in Amsterdam, has a distinct style marked with the warmth you’ll find in children’s picture books, as well as the mystery of surrealist landscapes. In addition to illustration, Sarah is interested in video and stop-motion animation.

Marc Taro Holmes

At Citizen Sketcher, Montreal-based artist Marc Taro Holmes chronicles his location sketching, travel drawing, and plein air painting. His work-in-progress is refreshing, from airy landscapes to spirited pieces full of movement. When viewing his work, you can picture his hand moving across the page.

Drew Dernavich

Artist Drew Dernavich works on a number of projects, from New Yorker cartoons to art for musical projects. At Words, Pictures, Humor, you’ll find highlights from his professional work.

Robert M Ball

London-based illustrator Robert M Ball shares a range of work on his blog, from his “Beautiful Death” series for HBO’s Game of Thrones to his new book, Dark Times

Lorna Alkana

Los Angeles artist Lorna Alkana experiments with multi-layered digital media and visual essays. It’s fun to read about — and see — her process of image manipulation.

Pete Scully

Urban sketcher Pete Scully organizes monthly sketchcrawls in Davis, California. An avid keeper of sketchbooks, he’s constantly doodling, bringing the world to life with his colorful, lighthearted illustrations.

Anna Totten

Just Look at My Face is Anna Totten’s virtual lost and found of doodles and illustrations. Playful and colorful, Anna’s work will put a smile on your face.

Slightly Chilled Porcupine

It’s easy to scroll through the black-and-white illustrations at Slightly Chilled Porcupine and lose track of time — at first glance, the drawings are simple, but the messages, while often quirky, are not to be dismissed. (Also, who doesn’t love porcupines?)

Danny Gregory

Award-winning artist Danny Gregory has written numerous books on art and creativity. (Fun fact: Pete Scully, mentioned above, is featured in one of them: An Illustrated Journey.) On Danny’s blog, you’ll find drawings, illustrated journaling, and essays. Be sure to also check out Sketchbook Skool, his six-week online art course.

"Let Them Draw Cake," Danny Gregory
“Let Them Draw Cake,” Danny Gregory

Want more? Browse some of our favorite art and design blogs, or explore the illustration tag in the Reader.

Filed under: Community, WordPress.com
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New Theme: Sketch

Today we’re happy to debut a new, free portfolio theme, Sketch!

Sketch

Sketch WordPress Theme

Designed by yours truly, Sketch is a clean, modern theme for showcasing your best visual works. Whether you’re a professional illustrator, an aspiring photographer, or a painter, Sketch will ensure your portfolio looks stunning no matter the device or screen size.

Sketch Responsive Design

Further customize your site with a logo, showcase your favorites with a Featured Content slider, or spruce it up with a Custom Background or Header.


Take Sketch for a spin — visit the Theme Showcase to learn more, or activate it on your site by going to Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 3

We’re back with another edition of Longreads’ Best of WordPress: below are 10 outstanding stories from across WordPress, published over the past month.

You can find Vol. 1 and 2 here — and you can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for all of our daily reading recommendations.

Publishers, writers, keep your stories coming: share links to essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.


1. The Great Forgetting (Kristin Ohlson, Aeon)

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Why do we suffer from “childhood amnesia”? We lack the ability to recall memories from the first three or four years of our lives, and we have “a paucity of solid memories until around the age of seven.”

Read the story

2. The Mecca in Decline (Jordan Conn, Grantland)

Why doesn’t New York City produce elite NBA talent like it used to?

Years ago, New York’s playgrounds and high schools served as the most fertile breeding ground for the game’s elite. Today, you’re just as likely to become a star if you’re born in Los Angeles, Toronto, or Raleigh.

Read the story

3. Documents of Our Common Ground (Anisse Grosse, Brooklyn Quarterly)

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An interview with writer Rebecca Solnit, who has edited two atlases of American cities, on how maps can reflect a city’s culture:

It was so satisfying to make a map of [San Francisco's] Mission District in 2009 with life stories, gang territories, churches, soccer fields, remittance shops—to indicate where immigrants move money back to their homelands, a map that shut the f–k up about food and shopping. Maps can be mirrors of the expected and familiar, or the opposite.

Read the story

4. A Raised Voice (Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker)

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The story of Nina Simone — her career and her involvement with the civil rights movement — and the furor over a forthcoming movie biopic.

Read the story

5. The Thin Purple Line (Patrick Michels, Texas Observer)

“After a controversial raid on a West Texas smoke shop, nothing is hazier than the truth.” On synthetic drugs, federal muscle and the limits of freedom.

Read the story

6. The Book I Didn’t Write (Elmo Keep, The Awl)

Elmo Keep on the book about her father that she decided not to write:

“I didn’t write the book because the thought of it made me feel vaguely ill at all times. Even when I wasn’t thinking about it directly I was thinking about it. None of the thoughts were good.”

Read the story

7. Disenfranchised (Timothy Noah, Pacific Standard)

Inside the increasingly difficult business of running your own franchise — margins get tighter, and vendors assert even more control:

Franchisees don’t enjoy the market powers and economies of scale of their parent companies. Rather, they run small businesses with narrow profit margins, high failure rates, and plenty of anti-corporate grievances of their own.

Read the story

8. The Fasinatng … Frustrating … Fascinating History of Autocorrect (Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Wired)

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The story of how a Microsoft employee working on the Word team invented autocorrect:

Some of the calls were quite tricky, and one of the trickiest involved the issue of obscenity. … Microsoft was sensitive to these issues. The solution lay in expanding one of spell-check’s most special lists, bearing the understated title: “Words which should neither be flagged nor suggested.”

Read the story

9. From Botanical Gardens Intern to Anthony Bourdain’s Assistant: A Job History (Laurie Woolever, The Billfold)

Woolever documents her entire career, with some important lessons along the way:

“I took out a loan and did a 6-month professional course at the French Culinary Institute, while continuing to work part-time for the family for a few months. I soon learned that I was poorly-equipped to be restaurant cook. I’m rather lazy, I loathe noise, heat, and teamwork, bore easily, and crack under pressure.”

Read the story

10. Pink Collar (Jennifer Pan, Jacobin)

“When writers attack bad PR, the un­spoken heart of their criticism is the failure on the part of the publicist to adequately conceal that she is performing emotional work for money.” Jennifer Pan explores the gendered nature of PR, and other industries requiring emotional labor.

Read the story


Photos:

happykiddoforever, Flickr

Moyan Brenn, Flickr & WordPress.com

davecito, Flickr

scarlatti2004_images, Flickr

Neal Jennings, Flickr

Eléonore Hamelin, The Big Roundtable

Filed under: Community, Writing
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Field Notes: BlogHer ’14

Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do when not in front of a computer. Today, Michelle Weber — one of a group of Automatticians offering real-life happiness engineering at BlogHer ’14 — reports back from the popular women bloggers conference.

BlogHer is an amazing organization created to support and lift up women bloggers. They’re home to blogging communities close to our hearts, like NaBloPoMo, and their conferences are among my favorite blogging events to attend.

Meeting the bloggers who take WordPress and infuse it with their words and images is rewarding, educational, and just fun. This year’s annual conference was no exception — the WordPress booth included a Happiness Bar for on-the-spot troubleshooting, ample hangout space, and, of course, a comfy couch for much-needed conference breaks and blogging tête-à-têtes.

Bloggers talking blogging at BlogHer.
A weekend's worth of mini-workshops and panels.
Carolyn and Daryl, ready to engineer some happiness for WordPress users.
A post-panel pic with A'driane, Emily, and Kylie.
Sara Rosso talks social networks while the booth hums around her.

This year, we also added a series of mini-workshops on the topics bloggers most often ask us about — domains, plugins, social media, copyright, and the different flavors of WordPress — along with mini-panels with some of the outstanding bloggers selected as BlogHer’s 2014 Voices of the Year.

Being at BlogHer isn’t just standing behind a counter talking about widgets. There was great discussion. There were hugs. There were selfies. There was a little crying, and a lot of laughing. After three days doing everything from having in-depth conversations on how to find your blogging voice to helping a new blogger learn to highlight text and create a hyperlink, I was a little tired and a little hoarse — but also full of ideas to take back to work, inspired to do some blogging of my own, and richer in friendship than I was three days before. What more could a blogger ask for?

Thanks to the Voices of the Year-winning bloggers behind Butterfly ConfessionsC is for CrocodileGirl BonerNaptime WritingThe Life of Kylie, Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy.Baddest Mother EverThe Waiting, and Jamie Krug: Author for taking the time to sit down with me, and for everyone else who came by to get help, talk WordPress, or just say hello. I hope I see y’all in 2015!

Filed under: Community, Events
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Introducing: Comment Likes

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this — reading through a comment thread, and seeing a particularly well-written comment, whether it be informative, insightful, or just plain funny. You want to show the commenter that you appreciate their work, but don’t have a reply for them, so you just move on. Well, those days are over!

Comment Likes are now available on all WordPress.com sites. We’ve seen how much you enjoy Post Likes, and want to bring that kind of love to comments, too. When you enable Comment Likes on your site, you’ll see a small Like appear below all the comments on your site, just like this one.

You and all your readers can click it to show your appreciation!

If you prefer to read in the WordPress Android or iOS apps, we’re working hard to bring Comment Likes to both of them as well — stay tuned for upcoming releases.

To activate Comment Likes, head to Settings :arrow: Sharing in your dashboard, or check out the Comment Likes support page. Don’t forget to show some love in the comment section below!

Filed under: New Features, Social
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New Theme: Celsius

Today I’m happy to announce a new, free theme to spruce up your site!

Celsius

Celcius Celsius provides a pure, white backdrop for your writing, photography, or videography. With a design that looks great on any device, large or small, this theme supports several popular post formats, slide-out navigation and widget areas, and bold featured images. If you want to clear out the clutter and let your content speak for itself, give Celsius a try!


Celsius is a free theme. Find out more at the theme showcase, or preview it on your blog by going to Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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Early Theme Adopters: Kelly

Kelly, which was designed by Automattic’s own Kelly Hoffman, is an inviting, fun theme for bloggers of all stripes. Its clean, one-column layout makes it perfect for text-heavy posts, but can be just as ideal for a tumblelog-like stream of images.

With bold featured images, the ability to customize the header and the background, and three widget areas in the site’s footer, you can make it your own with just a few quick tweaks. Here are some examples of the theme’s versatility.

Curated Style

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Curated Style, a Toronto-centered fashion blog, makes great use of Kelly‘s out-of-the-box look. The theme’s cursive font in the header injects a stylish playfulness, while the generous white space in the posts makes the images of Toronto’s fashion scene stand out.

The blogger behind Curated Style effortlessly added a few personal touches, like a patterned custom header image, a splash of bright pink in the custom background, and an easy-to-navigate custom menu.

The Lens Less Traveled

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Created by a photoblogger based in the Southeast (of the US), The Lens Less Traveled shows how radically different Kelly can look with just a few small changes.

The site uses a more neutral palette than the theme’s trademark bright greens and pinks, as well as a serif custom font instead of the default cursive. The focus is squarely on the gorgeous photography, like the picture above, taken in a state park in Georgia. The splashy featured image in each post creates a particularly striking effect, drawing viewers in and enticing them to explore more.

Lorenzo Setale

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Taking Kelly in a very different direction than its default design, Italian software developer and entrepreneur Lorenzo Setale recognized the theme’s inherent strengths, and used them to create a tailor-made look for his site.

The dark background and sans serif font join forces to become a modern, clean canvas for Lorenzo’s thoughts, while the theme’s original focus on readability and balance stay as effective as ever.

Have you customized Kelly as well? Is there another theme you’d like to see featured in this series? We’d love to hear your input!

 

Filed under: Customization, Themes
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Writing Through Grief

Blogs are incredible vehicles for exploring our passions and finding our voices. They can also be powerful tools for healing in the face of trauma; for many of us, the act of writing is a cathartic one.

These brave moms are blogging their way through one of life’s more traumatic losses: the loss of a child. Calling themselves babyloss blogs, they provide insight for those of us who have never experienced this unique pain and support for other parents starting to navigate the same grief — along with hope that life does go on, and happiness is still possible.

C is for Crocodile

2014 BlogHer Voices of the Year winner Timaree started C is for Crocodile to chronicle her pregnancy, never imagining that after three years and five months, she would instead be chronicling her son’s fight with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia — an incredibly rare form of cancer. She blogged through his treatment and now writes her way through the aftermath, as in this piece published during the recent BlogHer conference:

I grabbed a glass of champagne, tucked myself up on a set of stairs, and I watched from Planet I Miss My Son as people strolled by, stopped, read, dug around in their bags for tissues, and moved on.

She shares the blog with wife Jodi, and together they’re documenting the journey to their new normal with honesty and eloquence.

Expecting the Unexpected

Connecticut midwife Meghan was pregnant in March 2014 when she learned first that her daughter had down syndrome, and then a potentially fatal kidney defect. On Expecting the Unexpected, she does not blunt the edge of what happened next:

The story of my daughter began with a positive pregnancy test and ended as I held her in my arms as she died six hours after birth.

Her blog gives her a space to mourn and process the loss as she works not only to heal, but to re-enter what became a painful profession.

The Mourning After Natasha

Natasha was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age seven, and passed away five years later. Like Timaree and Meghan, mom Suzanne turned to words to help deal with the pain of a devastating loss. In her latest post, she explains why she’d prefer that you didn’t call her child a “hero”:

To those she loved and trusted, she didn’t soldier on with a smile on her face as the hero-philes would have it. She mourned the injustice of the good health that she had irrevocably lost, noting that her friends who had morphed into gangly preteens got to play a brisk game of basketball.

Along with her blog, Suzanne helps other grieving parents feel less alone with regular pieces on The Huffington Post, Mothering, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many more.

Hang Your Hopes from Trees

The blogger behind Hang Your Hopes from Trees began writing in the aftermath of a traumatic miscarriage:

This is not a goldfish! My head raged. This is your baby! Pick it up! Hold it, you will NEVER get another chance! Another voice rang in, steady and calm. Don’t touch the baby, it said. The baby is gone, has been gone a long time. If you pick it up, what will you do with it? Will you ever be able to let it go? Will you be scarred, more deeply than you already are?

At, Hang Your Hopes from Trees she writes to forgive herself — and her body. This month, she opens a new chapter, learning to reconcile her joy at the birth of a daughter with the lingering pain of her loss.

Sadly, these four women are not alone; there are countless other bloggers using babyloss blogs to write through their grief, including:

These women tell their painful truths to help themselves heal and to keep the memories of their children alive — and in doing so, they help countless other parents who find themselves crushed and bewildered after the loss of a child.

Filed under: Community, Reading
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New Themes: Edin and Espresso

Check out Edin and Espresso — today’s spiffy new additions to our massive family of themes.

Edin

Edin: Front Page

Edin is a brand-new, free business theme designed by yours truly. It’s a modern and fully responsive theme that will help you create a strong — yet beautiful — online presence for your business. Edin offers multiple theme options and supports the recently launched Site Logo feature.

Espresso

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Espresso is a responsive, content-centric premium theme designed by Justin Carroll that allows you to choose between two charming layouts. Go with a traditional post stream for your writing-based blog, or go grid-style for your photography blog. A fixed sidebar on the right keeps widgets, menus, and social links at the ready for visitors.


Edin is a free theme, and Espresso is a premium upgrade. Check out each theme’s showcase by clicking on its screenshot above, or preview it on your blog from Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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