My Web Work
My experience with computers began in 1983, when I entered the video game industry as a manager. In 1985 I bought my first computer and began learning to write software and create computer graphics. In the late 1980s and early 1990s I worked with Macintosh and Amiga computers, creating game graphics, point of sale displays and touchscreen interfaces. In 1994, once again I made the decision to make animation my full time pursuit.
That year, when I renamed Everyman Studios ARG! Cartoon Animation, I started out with very few clients and almost no work. Fortunately, Hollywood had a place for me, and soon I travelled to Boston and worked with my old Everyman partners Darrel Anderson and Rick Berry on visual effects for the TriStar Pictures (Sony) production of Johnny Mnemonic. But after my work on the film was completed, business was still slow.
Rather than starve, I decided to apply my programming and computer graphics skills as a Web developer. In 1995, just about every business needed a website, and there were few graphic designers who knew how to create them. Fortunately, I subleased my studio space from an advertising agency. They were my first web design clients, bringing a huge real estate brokerage site and more. Soon I found myself hiring artists and technicians to handle the tremendous volume of Web development work.
Obviously, ARG! Cartoon Animation was a lousy brand name for a company that developed websites, so in December, 1996 I registered citystar.com and started promoting CityStar® as our Web design brand.
In 1997, CityStar®'s business started getting big. One could say that the tail wagged the dog after a while. I had set out in 1994 to build a new digital animation studio under the ARG! brand, and suddenly I was known as "the computer guy." But the money was good, and I decided to ride this wave for while. Over the next few years I expanded the business into banner ad design, website hosting, search engine marketing, an ISP (CityStar® Online) and even an advertising agency, Artie Romero Graphics. I was chasing dollars.
In 1999, we incorporated CityStar® and converted the citystar.com site into a business directory. As we expanded from local to national and international, it made sense to create a CityStar® site for each city where we had clients. We built more than 300 city sites, for example newyork.citystar.com (click on "More Search Options" to drill down). At first our branding was the national website directory, scoring #1 on Google for "national website directory," then we shifted into calling it the international business directory. At one point we listed more than 96,000 businesses in these sites. We were in the top ten on Google for thousands of keywords. We sold advertising on the sites, and life was good.
Animation was not forgotten; in fact profits from Web development and directory advertising went toward expanding the ARG! website. In addition to my personal efforts, we usually had at least one staff animator producing innumerable small Flash and GIF cartoons. We animated GIFs for each upcoming holiday and sports season throughout the year, and regularly added dozens of pages to the ARG! site. Ultimately more than 15,000 pages were added to artie.com. Its growth was phenomenal, and in 2005 and 2006 the ARG! site got a combined 1.2 billion hits. ARG! created more than 57,000 GIFs, and we market them as the ARG! Kartoon Kollection.
I was running seven businesses by 2003, and only one of them, the ARG! studio, meant much to me, other than money. I had gained a lot of weight and suffered from back trouble because of a lack of exercise, sitting at a computer almost every day. I knew that something had to give.
That summer I attended an Anthony Robbins "Ultimate Power Weekend." I didn't know what to expect from the event, but I walked barefoot on a bed of hot coals and was encouraged to set some goals for myself. I found that I had the power to change my life, my sons' lives, and focus on my passion, art and animation. My first challenge was to get fit, lose weight and climb Pikes Peak. I accomplished the latter on September 13, 2003.
Over the next few years I lost 40 pounds, and in June, 2008 I sold the ISP, website design, hosting and domain registration client lists and servers. That left me with just the animation studio, the directory advertising business and a little SEO work. Things were getting better, because I was able to focus on the things that mattered most to me.
The web directory's sales had peaked in early 2008, and it was badly in need of a redesign. My son Ricky had started working for CityStar® Group, Inc as an intern, and had worked his way up to CIO. During that time, he had designed some gorgeous sites, including the National Day of Prayer in 2005. He left CityStar® in 2005 to work for Yahoo! and by 2008 he was a senior designer at Intuit. Nevertheless, I asked Ricky if he would grace us with a new design for citystar.com, and he delivered a beautiful new look. My son Tim contributed scripts to automate the maintenance of all these directories, and directed a dynamic TV spot that brought us more customers. By early 2014, the CityStar® complex had more than 11,000 pages, sales had rebounded, and everything was ready. It was time to sell the sites, the trademark and all of the other intellectual property associated with CityStar®. The properties were auctioned, and my mission of getting focus was finally accomplished in August, 2014.
After building and maintaining so many, many sites, I'm happy that my website development work now consists of just the ARG! site and my wife Connie's landscaping site. Oh yeah, and this one. Joy! go back
Copyright © 2017 Artie E. Romero. Updated 01/30/2017