It's inspiring to see the work of talented people and hear how they use jAlbum. jAlbum has many skilled users, ranging all from photo enthusiasts, travelers and hobbyists to professional photographers and organizations sharing their activities. We also see companies showcasing products. I've interviewed one such company: gerrymurray.co.uk, who is a collective of graphic artists based in Staffordshire, UK:
You can peek at their product gallery here. Use username "jalbum" and password "jalbum".
(If you have a cool usage of jAlbum, just write us)
-Tell us a bit about you and your business
Gerry Murray Design & Licensing are a very small art design and licensing agency based in the beautiful Potteries region of Staffordshire, UK. We represent 6 incredible artists who are also my very best friends, which is a wonderful bonus. We have been in operation for 12 years this year, and we produce art for some of the biggest international greeting card, home decor, stationery companies across the world.
I am originally from a small town in Northern Ireland called, Lurgan, situated right at the bottom right hand corner of the biggest lough in the United Kingdom; Lough Neagh. My background is in the ceramic industry, thus the reason for my move to The Potteries in Staffordshire. And in fact, most of my artists also have the very same pedigree of starting their art/design careers with the numerous international ceramic companies based at the time in The Potteries.
Our clients are numerous throughout the world and have become good friends; after visiting them through international art shows in the USA and Europe. We have built up strong relationships offering a very flexible, professional and fast delivery of their art projects whether it is with regards stationery, home decor, ceramics, fabrics, wall art, flags or giftware:
- When and how did you discover jAlbum?
My husband looks after our website, accounts, marketing, etc. and I know he has enjoyed using it over the last few years - It’s has been more than 8 years now that we have been using it. I’ll ask him to jump in here as he’s the better man in letting you know about his thoughts on jAlbum:
Hi, David, it’s Greg here. Yes indeed, I believe we came across jAlbum as we were on the search for some online publishing software for a small collection of art projects that Gerry and her artists were involved with, while communicating with some of her clients in the USA. At the time, some art shows in the US relied heavily on all their art being printed onto A3 sheets for licensing and outright purchase, but others started graduating into soft ‘lightbox’ or even 'PowerPoint' collections of art that could then be hosted onto websites. We had a very basic ‘html' (‘Dreamweaver’ published) site that allowed both a platform for my wife to demonstrate her art of her artists in person (while attending her international art shows), and also demonstrate remotely via her website.
However, the constant CSS tweaks and the development of responsive formats of tablets, screen variations (duplicating imagery for said formats) played havoc with my very basic ‘html’ skills, so I sought about searching for something more professional and less time consuming.
- What made you choose jAlbum in favor of the many alternatives that exists today?
Initially we invested in a well known Adobe art/museum portfolio software suite that became so expensive to buy in different modules to track and display our art (and who did not reply to any of my messages/emails - presumably as we were not a museum, nor a larger organization buying into their higher end services).
A few web searches put me in the direction of jAlbum. However, jAlbum’s website seemed to point it towards a more photographers tool rather than an art licensing tool so I was unsure whether it’s more photographer-based application might suit what we were after. My apprehensions where soon unfounded though.
jAlbum rose above many others, due to their customer testimonies initially. So we decided to give it a go with a 30 day free trial. Within minutes I had set up a site on jAlbum by transferring all our artists' work across onto its platform. All the thumbnail and image slides were automatically generated - something that used to take me such a long time as I would often get bogged down in replicated art and place holder editing! jAlbum did this automatically and effortlessly.
However, this was not the decider for us; by the second day of using the software, I was unsure of something, as I remember, so I decided to message their help line. Even though I was not yet a customer, I got an immediate reply back from Laza!! I was amazed that there was a ‘real’ person at the end of my message who answered my question and with professionalism and kindness. It was the start of a ‘wonderful’ relationship heehee - as I have always been someone who would never shy away for asking for help! He has been there from the very start as I’ve suggested new improvements, tweaks to functionality but all centered around our own site. Each progressive update of his ’Turtle’ (then ’Tiger’) skin incorporated many improvements and updates - some of which were instigated by me - only one person compared to the many thousand users!! So I’ve often felt that I have hogged poor Laza’s attention far too much over the years. I often have to apologize to him before I start my email!! My messages have been replied to by Anders and David also who are, like Laza, always courteous, kind and genuine with the client’s best interest at heart.
- Any comments on your gallery from your clients?
We host our own Gerry Murray Design & Licensing album at www.gerrymurray.co.uk, which is fast approaching 10,000 images of high resolution original art. Our clients tell us they enjoy the clean appearance and clutter-free experience of inspecting our art, that is easily organized, visually beautiful and with clear instruction on navigation, with fluid functionality to zoom, filter, inspect, and send their art interests to us for all their art licensing projects.
- What aspects of jAlbum do you value the most?
I feel our initial praise of jAlbum’s personal customer service as being just incredible has continued to this day - many years after investing in jAlbum both financially and through the time we have saved using it. Some areas that have developed recently that I love are the external plugins that cater for slider variables and keyword searches. Again their personal emails have directed me to these wonderful pieces of programming that save so much time, but also the fact that they have a wonderful user forum that offer help and assistance.
The fact that I only have to drag in our art on a daily basis and the associated thumbs and images (watermarked and otherwise) are automatically generated and uploaded to our site - all in the background while I’m working on other daily routines. Our online work has developed and taken a different focus, so much so after ‘Covid’ and jAlbum makes our art licensing representation so much easier and streamlined.
We use the ‘zoom’ functionality for our clients to inspect the detail of our art and with the new ‘Variants’ upgrading the HiRes settings so that images are generated for only those monitors/tablets that require that resolution. It means you never have to think about our end user/client and whether they are seeing the art at it’s very best - jAlbum just takes care of it. And now with jAlbum factoring in the new M1/M2 Apple Mac processors, the speeds of ‘Making/Uploading’ albums of huge sizes are done all in the background and three times faster!!
- Any suggestions on how we can improve jAlbum further?
Our continual updating/uploading of new art from our artists is a continual and daily procedure, so our forever expanding portfolio of art requires some compromise and although we currently use the zoom functionality and we utilize the ‘Variants’ functionality; speeds of website accessibility are not affected. However, the compromise of 1,000 images per folder is a necessity currently otherwise the client experience is affected very slightly. Long term, as I understand it, only via scrolling are the images cached and therefore there is some development in this area that should allow many more images per folder. This would allow a more comprehensive filter on various variables to catch all art within a criteria and not just the art in that folder. This is somewhat dealt with on the whole site keyword search but obviously without the variable breakdown.
Another suggestion (in connection with this) would be for the implementation of a relational database filter on keywords and user created variables - much like a PHP/MySql to allow queries to call up variable filtered art. Currently, the search criteria is a linear one with multi-criteria diminishing the search for each criteria. The only way around this is to have more than one copy of the art in a different folder, or have numerous keywords shown in the search, etc. without a relational database criteria structure.
Another possible improvement would be for the ’Send’ email of ‘Feedback’ items to be server-side, so that emails of art/photos (visually represented or otherwise) could be achieved, as some of our clients use networked machines that prevent websites accessing their email client software. jAlbum has got around this with their ‘Copy to Clipboard’ functionality, which has been working well, but might not just be as clean and innovative as my suggestion.
These are only a few very small niggles on what we feel is such an incredibly wonderful platform for any art/design/photographer/licensing company/agency - but with it, comes their 'joker in their pack' - their kindness, humility, professionalism, expertise, punctuality, reliability and understanding in every email/correspondence. You can’t not love being a part of the jAlbum family as you never know who is there willing to always help: Laza, Anders, David - each with their own expertise and passion to help! Thank you gents and thank you jAlbum!
You can peek at their awesome product gallery here. Use username "jalbum" and password "jalbum".
(If you have a cool usage of jAlbum, just write us)