Elena Birkenwald Portfolio

A portfolio website for an artist.


This project is the origin of my career as a software engineer. It is both my everyday delight and sorrow. It's the project closest to my heart.

Elena Birkenwald is my mother, and I started coding because I wanted to help her sell art, which I did by building a website for her. My expertise continually rose, and so I always tried to apply it to her portfolio.


While a decade ago, the objective (or what I assumed it to be) was to build a thrilling website with perfect technical setup and beautiful code, nowadays, it shifted to a real purpose: Showcasing the artwork.

It is a universal, painful reminder that you can, in fact, design things purposefully. There is that layer of your subconsciousness that will assume things based on other, intangible things - in this case, design.

If you are doing something without being painfully conscious about its purpose and consequences, strip it.

Solution and benefits

Following my enlightenment, I created a portfolio site that wouldn't shout, "This website is amazing!". Instead, now it screams, "This art is remarkable!".

The technology and design both emphasize the work by merely being and nothing more. Gatsby.js generates a static site, which is unrivaled in speed and SEO capability. Images are highly optimized in size, quality, and CDN latency by Imgix. The icing on the cake is how media lazy loads with infinitesimal previews.

React, and a static data structure helps with maintainability and also some client-side goodies, like loading pages without actually forcing the browser to load a page. Yet these pages are still available statically for Google.