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Interactive Annual 15:
entertainment

Tracy Chapman

Launch Live Site

“A truly lovely experience with an innocence that is captivating. Even for those unfamiliar with Tracy Chapman’s music, it’s hard not to get caught up in her world. The illustrations are surprisingly rich with minimal effort and lend themselves to endless combinations and play.” —Ranee Chung

“The pure focus of this piece is mesmerizing. It gets to the essence of the artist’s work and invites visitors to express themselves in a very simple and satisfying way.” —Jason Ring


Overview: Launched to coincide with the release of her Our Bright Future album—and first solo tour in over a decade—this site hosts Tracy Chapman’s music, videos and lyrics. The interactivity combined with the juxtaposition of positive and negative elements throughout the site reinforce the message in Tracy’s title track. A beautifully simple and playful coloring-book interface takes a paint-by-numbers approach. The coloring-book concept is a metaphor for the album title, which conveys our ability and duty as individuals to envision the future and impact the world—what we paint today is what we will live in tomorrow.

  • • Since launch the site’s received about 200,000 unique sessions.
  • • Every video and every song ever released by Tracy Chapman is on the site.
  • • The next version of the site will include the ability to take screenshots of colored pages and add them to a public gallery.

Comments by Jason Herring

How did time constraints affect your final solution? “For this project, like others that are tied to the release date of an album, staying on schedule was critical. As we were designing and developing the site, Tracy was still in the studio completing her album and we were sensitive to give her the creative space to work there. Ultimately, we had to sneak in meetings between her promo tour on TV and radio talk shows. We launched on time, the day the album was released in Europe.”

What would you do differently if you could start the project over? “If we were to start the project over, we would’ve pushed sooner to build in a way for the community to share paintings with each other. It fell out of scope and the timeline didn’t allow us to pull it in. We also created lots of darker animations (soldiers fighting, school boys with flame throwers), wanting to design a scene that would at first appear beautiful and nice, but on closer scrutiny, the user would see a much darker vision. Tracy wasn’t opposed to the concept, but she adamantly opposed having guns or any type of violence displayed on the site. In hindsight, if we had refined the darker metaphors earlier, we might have been able to keep that edge on the site.”

Credits

Adam Weiss, art director
Jason Herring, creative director
Stephen Braitsch, interactive developer
Dina Herring, database programmer
Scott Smith/Madeleine Ward, graphic designers
Hampus Lideborg, animator
Sanaz Ebriani, project manager
OrdinaryKids (San Francisco, CA), project design and development
Tracy Chapman, client