This Artist’s Portfolio Lets You Call Him To Explain His Work

It’s part audio tour, part podcast, and part portfolio–a truly new way to look at art online.

How do you make your online portfolio stand out from the crowd? The New York-based design studio HAWRAF has an answer: Pick up the phone.


The artist Marc Horowitz recently tasked HAWRAF with creating a new website design to showcase his work. Because Horowitz’s work tends to be on the conceptual and abstract side–he’s famous for driving across the country to have dinner with thousands of people for his piece The National Dinner Tour–having an explanation to go along with the work was a crucial aspect of the project. Rather than just including extra text like some portfolio designs might, the designers came up with a brilliantly simple solution to contextualize the art.

At first glance, HAWRAF’s design looks like a pretty standard portfolio. There are tabs at the top, with images below that represent 32 projects dating all the way back to 2001. But the designers, inspired by the audio tours you’ve probably experienced at a museum or gallery, added another element of interaction. In big block text at the top of the website, it says, “Call 1-833-MAR-CIVE.” When you do, you can hear the artist himself tell you stories about each project by simply dialing the reference number below each image.

It’s a mix between a museum’s audio tour, a podcast, and an interactive site. To understand the artist’s work, you have to call–there’s no bio at all, just another directive to call the number. And so, you do.

[Image: courtesy Marc Horowitz/HAWRAF]
When you try the #387 extension, you can hear about his work Too Soon from 2014, a reproduction of the head of Michelangelo’s David, with a lint roller stuck to its head and stuffed inside a gym bag. “It functions as both a sculpture and a photograph,” Horowitz explains. “It’s just as Instagram was coming into itself in importance . . . and I wanted to make the perfect Instagrammable work, and what better to do than put it on a backdrop and light it? It’s commenting on that disposable image culture, where everything is sort of flash, sort of quick.”

Hearing him talk about and analyze his work in a conversational, easy way as you look at it online is an entirely different experience than the usual descriptions that accompany artworks or projects in an online portfolio. Normally, I might have only given Too Soon a cursory glance while flipping through his other works and skimmed a bit of the description before moving on. But after listening to Horowitz speak about Too Soon, the work takes on an entirely new meaning–and the experience helps me understand Horowitz’s work in a much more intimate way.

Of course, if you don’t want to call there is an option to read about each work–but to do so would mean missing a truly novel way to experience art online.


About the author

Katharine Schwab is an associate editor at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture.