Hey there VPM-fans! This post is part of our series that highlights some creatives folks (photographers, designers, videographers, etc.) for whom theatre is more than just a paycheck, but a muse. Think you (or a friend) might be a good fit? Let us know via email. Be sure to check out our last entry, an interview with photographer Matthew Murphy, the man behind the lens of 35mm.
Without further ado…
We believe strongly in the importance of strong branding and design for actors, singers, stage artisans, and live productions, and so do the talented designers we’ll be showcasing. Among those designers is Robbie Rozelle, a print and web designer for actors, singers, and theatrefolk around the country.
Robbie has been building theatre-related websites for over fifteen years. “I’m so embarrassed to say this started my career, but I started designing because I was surfing the web around 1995 looking for info on the musical Carrie. And there was nothing. NOTHING,” Rozelle said. “I will say that if I hadn’t been such an ardent Betty Buckley fan, that I probably wouldn’t be designing sites today!”
With folks like Laura Benanti, Scott Alan, Steven Pasquale, and Kerry O’Malley in his client roster, Robbie is a top designer for those who tread the boards. Their websites are “a one-stop shop for everything about them. Their Twitter feed is there, all of there work is there, videos, music clips, press – all of it.” Rozelle’s work is diverse and personal. Each clients’ site is perfect for them.
To Robbie, a custom website is the only way to go. “I don’t believe in cookie cutter websites (kind of like what you get with Apple templates), because they all start to blur together. So many actor websites are a blue background and a headshot, and I feel there needs to be more than that.” He continues “I think a custom-built website is key, both so you can control your image, and put out the info you want out correctly.”
Robbie is not just a web designer: he’s also a talented print designer, working for individual artists and labels on solo albums. Often, he connects his web work with this album work: “I like the artwork to flow through each other [web and print], so that visually it is cut from the same cloth.” You can see this philosophy in action in his work with Scott Alan, or Steven Pasquale. “[Pasquale] put out a great jazz album, ‘Somethin’ Like Love’, and I designed the site around the artwork of the album.”
He also works on posters and other print materials, for various organizations and theatre companies. Rozelle considers his logo and poster for the World AIDS Day Concert of Rags “probably my favorite design ever.”
Robbie’s process is multifaceted and crosses many mediums. He explains:
My entire process is sort of like a criminal sketch artist. I generally have lunch with, or a phone call with, the client, and we start talking about what they’re looking for. I ask some vague questions, and start sketching. I ask about favorite colors, and a couple of sites they love. Still sketching. We move off to some other topics, just so I get a feel for who they are. Then, I have a draft of what the site will look like. I go off, sit down with Photoshop, and start designing the “shell” of the site. I send them a .jpg of it, and get their feedback. I make whatever changes, get their approval, and build the site.
In spite of his success, Rozelle is modest. “Honestly, I think a good website is like good direction – you almost don’t notice the designer.”
He’s looking forward to what’s next (“I dream of doing a cast album design – that’s my ultimate goal. I think it will happen soon.”) as he adds clients and expands his business, Ghostlight Design. To Rozelle, success was kind of unexpected: “it all just snowballed – but I’m not complaining.”
And neither, we’re sure, are the folks who call him their designer.
You can reach Robbie Rozelle by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find him on Twitter. Stay tuned for future interviews, and be sure to check out our last entry, an interview with photographer Matthew Murphy, the man behind the lens of 35mm.