Back in early 1989, Swedish pop duo Roxette released “The Look” as the fourth single from their studio album, Look Sharp! It became an international hit and was the first of four number ones on the Billboard Top 100.
The band featured a duo, consisting of Marie Fredriksson (vocals and keyboards) and Per Gessle (vocals and guitar). Before coming together, they were already established solo artists in Sweden.
The story behind “The Look” is a good one because the success it had was attributed to a fluke. An American exchange student in Minneapolis brought his Swedish Roxette cassette tape to a local radio station, asked them to play the song, and before long, it hit No. 1 in 20 countries.
I was never a big fan of Roxette, as their sound was a little too “pop” for me. Keep in mind, Sarah McLachlan was coming on the music scene at the same time. Enough said.
But the title, “The Look,” has always made me curious, and mostly what I remember from the song was the redundancy in the chorus:
“She’s got the look (She’s got the look) She’s got the look (She’s got the look)
What in the world can make a brown-eyed girl turn blue
When everything I’ll ever do I’ll do for you
And I go la la la la la she’s got the look.”
. . .
Recently, I announced that I was stepping away from StudioPress. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, because most acquisitions usually result in the founder’s role changing. Or in my case, ending.
Over the last 15 months, I have had a lot of time to reflect. I looked back to the early days (and struggles) of starting a company, the development of the Genesis Framework, and the growth of the community that surrounded.
It’s been a fun ride. (Or, for you Roxette fans, joyride.)
One thing that became evident to me over the years was the inner struggle I had between what I should have been creating and what I wanted to create. It became a dichotomy, and at some point, people started to notice.
“Why is StudioPress releasing another theme that looks like the one before?”
“I can tell that Brian designed this one again.”
”Ugh, another simple looking theme without a sidebar!”
These were the murmurs that I heard—around the community of users, but also inside my head. I couldn’t blame folks for thinking (and sometimes saying) these things, because they were the same things I was saying to myself.
I knew all of it to be true. But quite frankly, I didn’t care.
The Signature of an Artist
I have fallen in love with minimalist design and prefer to balance aesthetics with functionality. I believe that white space, stunning visuals, and striking typography establish a more sophisticated and intoxicating reader experience.
In some ways, that’s it—end of story.
I began to defend what I was doing and believed it wasn’t the liability of an artist, rather it was me identifying what I wanted my voice to be and how I wanted things I created to look. My signature, if you will.
I have, what Roxette calls, a “look,” and a comment from my friend on an Instagram photo that I posted of our house finally convinced me of it:
“White on gray plus a single accent color? That’s not predictable AT ALL @bgardner.” — Chris Wallace
He was right, and I was ok with that. (Still am, by the way.)
The Magnolia Signature
Unless you live under a rock, you have heard of the show, Fixer Upper.
It’s no secret that my wife and I are huge fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines—so much that we took a road trip last summer down to Waco, Texas, to visit Magnolia Market and do some shopping.
We had the pleasure of staying in the Shotgun House while we were there. It truly is as cute and cozy as seen on TV. And like every project that Chip and Joanna have worked on, the house has a “look.”
You see it in all of their houses, at the Silos, in their store, and throughout their restaurant. I’m sure we’ll see it in the coffee shop and hotel they are building. The Magnolia brand has a “look.”
Introducing the Signature Series
As an artist, I have learned to embrace who I am. I have learned to lean into my passion, to create honestly, and to spend my time doing things I love.
It’s truly a waste of time to do things otherwise, but I’ll save that conversation for another day. (Because it is definitely one worth having.)
Now that my time at StudioPress is over, I have freedom to explore and to be curious. I can try new things and dive back into old ones that I enjoy.
You might have seen me lately teasing a theme that I am working on called Lookbook Pro. It is built on Genesis, and yes, it has my signature written all over it: black and white, with subtle use of one accent color.
This leads me to a little secret that I want to share with you. So here goes…
I am pleased to announce the Signature Series, which will consist of niche themes, designed minimally, and each will serve a particular audience.
Starting early 2020, a new theme will be available every quarter. The cost will be $75 per theme, but there will be an annual option which offers incredible value.
Stay tuned for more details, as I am finalizing the business plan.
In the meantime, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about your signature. After all, you are an artist, and you do have one.
So pop in that cassette or open up Apple Music. Search for Roxette, and in particular, find “The Look”—then hit play.
While you are listening, embrace your signature, defend your signature, and proudly start putting your signature on everything you create.