A life line for artistic expression
Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) is a new initiative dedicated to helping artists who find their right to free expression stifled or threatened under oppressive conditions. A collaborative project started by PEN America — a nearly 100-year old organization that works to protect writers, advance literature and defend free speech — ARC unites artists around the world with the resources and support organizations they need to survive and thrive.
AREA 17 partnered with ARC to design and develop a digital hub for its community of artists and organizations. We designed and built an experience robust enough to attract new participants into the network and flexible enough to work for users around the world, in any web browser, native language or remote location.
The core of the website is a custom search experience that allows users to find organizations by location, specialty discipline and resource type. These filters, along with a clean, personable design, provide an initial snapshot of both the breadth and depth of resources available — while also making it easy to drill down and locate specific emergency assistance information.
Accounting for the global audience, the search experience is built for optimal performance across languages and browser environments. The build takes advantage of Google Translate’s API, allowing users to browse and search in an array of languages based on Asian writing systems like Japanese, Hindi and Chinese in addition to alphabets like Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian, Georgian and Korean.
Taking cues from the visual identity developed by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut, we landed on a design that stacks the site navigation and logo vertically on the left side of the viewport, allowing them both to always stay visible and accessible as the user scrolls throughout the experience. Working in concert with the unique, rotated logo, the design channels Bierut’s print concepts into a user interface that is equally fresh and idiosyncratic – while remaining highly functional and performative.
In working with ARC we applied our expertise in engineering custom platforms to support a truly worthwhile cause. Leveraging our own open source toolkit of functional components we were able to quickly construct a streamlined, bespoke CMS on the Laravel PHP framework. The result is a lightweight, intuitive back end platform for managing ARC’s support network and content. On the front end, a modular system allows site administrators to create pages that are simultaneously flexible, easy to assemble and consistent with the site’s visual design system.