For a lot of people a focus on Genesis and minimal design (even minimal living) go hand in hand. Whether it’s one of Brian Gardner’s theme designs, his No Sidebar side project or the Genesis Framework itself, there’s a thread of minimalism in a lot of the work directly and indirectly related to Genesis.
But Ryan Townley has possibly outdone the minimalism of all of them with his new and appropriately titled theme shop Minimal Genesis. Launching in April 2015, Minimal Genesis is already home to three beautifully designed and, you guessed it, minimal themes (Leif Erikson, Constance, and Ludwig).
And I’m delighted to say that he’s taken a little time out to tell me more about his work, his love for Genesis and who inspires him in the community.
Plus, if that wasn’t enough, he’s also kindly giving away all three of his current themes from Minimal Genesis (more details below).
For those that don’t know, tell us a little bit about yourself, where do you live, what do you do and what makes you tick?
Ah, writing about yourself is hard, isn’t it?
Well, I’ve lived in Orange County, CA for the majority of my life.
I design and develop custom websites for various clients – from solopreneurs to corporations. I also maintain and support some of those sites on an ongoing basis.
I feel extremely fortunate to do what I love for a living and things have been really starting to click and come together for me as of late. It’s a great feeling.
I have a long way to go still to reach my goals but I think I’m heading in the right direction.
How did you first get into Genesis website development and how long have you been working with it?
I discovered Genesis in late 2012.
I was getting nauseous at the bloated themes out there such as those from ThemeForest. I was looking for something I could use as a solid foundation for primarily creating custom themes.
I believe at the time I was researching Genesis, Thesis, and Headway.
Obviously, we had a winner.
What are the biggest reasons to work in Genesis for you?
Efficiency has got to be one of the main reasons I love Genesis.
Learning the ins and outs has allowed me to scope out projects accurately and build sites rapidly. Not to mention that it gives me a clean, non-bloated, and lightning fast foundation.
I like to keep things clean and simple so Genesis is just the perfect solution for me.
Away from Genesis and web development, tell us something interesting about yourself that maybe a lot of the people in the Genesis community might not know, like a hidden talent, something crazy that you’ve done or a (previously secret) superhuman ability maybe?
Music is a huge part of my life.
I play drums, guitar, bass, and teaching myself some piano at the moment. I’m not super great at any of them, but it’s an important outlet for me. I try to jam regularly and I go to concerts whenever I can.
I’m into bands like Pink Floyd, Interpol, Arctic Monkeys, Failure (points if you know who they are), stuff like that.
Firstly, huge congrats on the launch of Minimal Genesis Themes. I know how stressful it can be launching something new. How did it all go? Any last minute freak outs, surprises (good or bad) or stories you can share?
Thank you! I have to say, it went fairly smooth.
I think I was pleasantly surprised at the reception of it. Several people telling me it was a great idea, even something they wanted to do themselves. That felt good, like it was something worthwhile and I was maybe on to something.
For people that don’t know, what’s the backstory to Minimal Genesis Themes, what made you decide to do it and why now?
Minimal Genesis was created from my desire to have a creative outlet outside of my normal client work. It allows me to do things exactly how I would want to do it. If others dig it, great!
I felt like this was the perfect type of side project for me, keeping things simple, and not requiring a huge amount of time that would take me away from other things.
Something like this has been a long time coming. I’ve played with releasing some freebie themes, which was good practice, but I felt now was the time to take it to another level.
How is your time split at the moment between Minimal Genesis Themes and other work? Do you plan shift more of your time to Minimal Genesis if things go well or do you see it strictly as a side project?
My client work pays the bills for the most part at the moment so that is going to get the majority of my time. If things go really well with Minimal Genesis, absolutely, I would love to devote more time to it, but right now it’s a really fun and rewarding side project.
Have you set targets for the project (financial or otherwise)?
I have some modest financial goals for Minimal Genesis, but because it’s a small niche I don’t have any major expectations. So far it’s exceeded my expectations so it’s a win for me and I plan to keep releasing themes as often as I can, quality being the priority.
Have you given much thought about how you’ll distinguish what you’re doing from other offerings? If so, how do you plan to do so?
The nice thing is that my freelance web design business clients are a completely different type of market than those who would be interested in my themes. I keep each site’s message targeted at that market so I think that keeps things clear enough.
What do you think of the current state of the Genesis theme market?
I think it’s pretty exciting to see new theme shops launching and existing ones continuing to push the envelope. It’s great for the community. Nothing wrong with options.
What are your thoughts on marketing Minimal Genesis Themes and who do you expect your typical customer to be (e.g. fellow developers, ‘regular’ website users, etc.)?
This is a great question. I’m not sure I have a clear sense just yet on who my typical customer is, seems to be across the board.
I want my themes to be flexible enough for a developer or designer who wants a good starting point for a project and simple enough for a general user who wants to be up and running within minutes.
So far, my themes are a bit more geared towards those who want a personal site for their writing or photography. I may start creating some different niche themes but all in all, I feel like any theme can work for just about any purpose with enough creativity.
We all *heart* Genesis, but did you give any consideration to releasing non-Genesis versions of your theme? What made up your mind for you (if it is made up)?
Nope, wasn’t even a consideration. The Genesis community gives me a built in niche and market so it just makes the most sense.
Are there any other WordPress businesses you particularly look up to, either inside or outside of the Genesis community to
copy get inspiration from (and why)?
I am constantly inspired by Brian Gardner, both with his designs and his passion projects such as No Sidebar and his podcast. Rafal Tomal always blows me away with his designs.
I’m inspired by so many others in and outside of the Genesis community launching theme shops, creating great sites for their clients, teaching others, etc.
These are good times. It’s all happening.
Having launched, what’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other creators in the Genesis space that are thinking of launching their own projects?
I would say don’t worry about complete perfection and just launch. It’s easy to lose momentum, burn out, and let a project die because you want to wait until it’s perfect to get it out into the world.
Quality is important, absolutely, but sometimes you need to get something out there to get the feedback that helps you get it closer to a version of perfection.
It’s ok to fail. It’s actually a really really good thing to fail, learn from it, and try something different.
What’s next for Minimal Genesis Themes?
I have so many ideas, it’s just a matter of finding the time to bring the good ones to life.
My goal is to release a new theme each month or close to it. I’m figuring out what elements people seem to like more than others and I want to bring a unique element to each theme I release.
What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you if they want to learn more?
Finally, Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey?
Game of Thrones all the way!
Giveaway: Win three of Ryan’s themes!
For your chance of winning all three of Ryan’s themes (Leif Erikson, Constance, and Ludwig) from his awesome Minimal Genesis project just enter your email address below.
(Competition closes 11:59pm CET, 25 May 2015)
This giveaway has now finished, but look out for new chances to win cool stuff in future articles.