art & design


When we were little, we thought that creativity came from freedom and whimsy. That the best design — like the best art — was a product of flitting muses. Ethereal inspiration. Absinthe. Here’s what we know after a lifetime of doodling, drawing, painting, layout, graphic design and publication production: Creativity begins at the first restriction.

Oooh! Don’t you love our Flash-based website? That’s nice. Can anyone read it on a phone? Here’s a gorgeous, large-format, four-color glossy concept for our product catalog. Looks great. Too bad the budget will cover only newsprint. We have this great photo we found online we want to use. Let’s talk about  a little thing called “copyright.”

Great design flourishes between the constraints of the world and the freedom of imagination. That’s where things start to get interesting. We excel at disciplined design that communicates and serves your message. And yes, we break the rules every now and then — but only those we’ve mastered, and never “just because.” We believe a successful design process begins with understanding the job in depth. You want a menu for your restaurant? Great! How is your restaurant lit? Because what customers can read at a bright lunch counter is one thing, and what they can read at a romantic, candlelit bistro is another.

Janet Edens is an award-winning graphic and publication designer who works primarily in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. She’s designed everything from CD covers to lifestyle magazines, from logos to bingo cards, from T-shirts to posters. With her training in classic design principles and years of experience in multiple formats, she’s the driving force behind Xarktopia’s design services. On the web, she works in classic CSS, plus WordPress and Drupal.

Dan Conover sold his first editorial cartoons to newspapers as a teenager, and later won awards for illustration from the North Carolina Press Association. He drew all the cartoons for a weekly print/web caption contest that ran from 2007-08 in Charleston, S.C., and works in a mixture of photography, hand-painted illustrations, Photoshop and Illustrator. He got his first job as a commercial artist in 1983, and today sells freelance photographs, commissioned logos, and magazine illustrations. He hand-coded his first website in 1994, but today handles web design jobs exclusively in WordPress.

With our unique combinations of skills and experience, we can deliver design services across multiple platforms.