interviews

Tidbits

Spring is on its way. iPhoneography by Kate England. 

Spring is on its way. iPhoneography by Kate England. 

Combine your photos in unique and creative ways with the new photo app Union.

Tutorial: How to Take Great Portrait Photographs with your iPhone

Review: Mextures — The Best Photo Editing App for iPhone.

Tips: EyeEm Blog - 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Framing a Photo

Art: Guide to Projectors for Interactive Installations

Chaos on your photo roll? Have you got trouble managing thousands of photos and videos? Simplify Your iOS Photo Workflow with Tidymatic

Interview: Benjamin Lowy: “The end of Instagram?” 

Interested in joining a friendly mobile photography community? Say hello to MobiTog!

Creative iPhoneographer Robert Lancaster

Robert Lancaster

Hi Robert! Could you tell us a little about your background and how you got started with creative iPhone photography and/or art?

I am from Cape Town, South Africa, where I live with my beautiful wife Belinda and our two sons, Seth (13) and Joseph (9). We share our apartment with our four cats Gracie, Lizzie, Dragon and Ryder.

I am a software engineer by profession and have not really had any creative endeavours apart from writing some poetry and many false starts in attempting to write a novel. I was lucky enough one year to get given an iPhone 3GS, which I still have and use, by my brother who was upgrading.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

 Once I started experimenting with the camera and the apps which were available a whole new creative outlet came into being. I have been reading websites and blogs and tutorials voraciously ever since in an effort to gain as much knowledge as I could. I am also a bona fida app junkie and download almost every photography related app I can get my hands on. This all carried on until one day I stumbled upon the MobiTog community and have never looked back. The people there were so friendly and helpful it made the transition into posting my work a whole lot easier. In the mean time I have also been given an iPad 2 (by the same brother who was once again was upgrading) and the bigger screen and more storage space has just fueled the creative fire. This has also allowed me to go into different fields from pure, naked images to the, often very over-apped, abstract. This all depends on my current mood and how amenable the weather is to allowing me to get outdoors and take pictures.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

How do you feel when you're making iPhoneography images?

At the moment my life is quite stressful and busy and iPhoneography has become my outlet. When I am busy working on images I become relaxed and focused and am able to shut out stress for a while.

What are you thinking about most in your creative life these days?

At the moment I am using my creativity as a way of expressing my current emotional state. As I become more focused on an image and start to see an image forming which expresses my emotional state, I find it very uplifting, calming and empowering. My most recent works have featured a lot of heavy abstract images and not so many unprocessed images. This is a sure sign that things have been a bit hectic for me recently.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

You mentioned that iPhoneography has become a way for you to express your emotional state. Would you say that it can play the role of a type of therapy or emotional self-care? 

It is a bit of both. It helps me process what I am going through at that moment in time. Therapy in so far as it very calming and relaxing, and emotional self care by clearing the mind to process whatever is happening. This is especially true for the more abstract work. When the stress levels are lower is when I tend to work in a more photographic style.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

Could you describe your creative process when you work with this type of abstract, expressive image? 

An abstract being the freest form often has no thought process or set workflow, or even set of apps. Abstract to me is all about how it makes me feel. Each step is guided by the previous step. Whether you stay in one app or switch apps often also varies from piece to piece. I just keep working on each image, often for days and sometimes weeks, until the image is complete.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

What would your suggestion be if someone asked you how to get going with their first abstract, expressive image?

For me it always starts off with an image which would normally be deleted. But the image has interesting lines or shapes or colours. Symmetry also plays a role. Look for an image which you would normally have deleted but for some or other reason is still on your camera roll or in your photo stream. You must have kept it for a reason, and maybe forming a piece of an abstract image is that reason. 

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

You work both in an abstract, expressive style as well as in a more unprocessed or photographic style. This is a situation a lot of people struggle with. They work in a more "art style" and a more "photographic style", and find it hard to put them both on the same page. How do you deal with working in these two very different styles at once? 

It was something I struggled with when I first started experimenting with iPhoneography. A lot of people seemed to have very distinct styles. I couldn't seem to settle on just one. This was until I realized that I did not need to force my work in one direction or another just to conform to a style. All I needed to conform to is what made me happy. If it makes me happy then I am sure that there other people who will appreciate it too. 

Which role does the iPhoneography community MobiTog have in your creative life? 

MobiTog is my creative home. It is full of friends, inspiration, caring, nurturing, teaching, learning and sharing. The art being shared at MobiTog is of the best, if not the best, anywhere on the internet. Since I discovered MobiTog it has become my social community of choice. I have tried Flickr, EyeEm, 500px, Instagram, Oggl and every other community on the web but always come back to MobiTog. I have learned most of what I know from the brilliant artists in the community like RoseCat (Catherine Restivo), lisamjw (Lisa Waddell),maktub77 (Sacha Dohmen), Bob Weil, Rudy Vogel and many, many others whose names I apologise for not mentioning here. Venomator (Rog) and Smooth (Matt) have created something very special in MobiTog and for this I am eternally grateful to them both.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

Which are your favourite apps for expressing yourself creatively? 

At the moment my favourite apps are (in no particular order) Snapseed, Glaze, iColorama and Repix. Image Blender and Superimpose for layering. Phonto for captioning and watermarking images. And I am a huge fan of all of the apps by JixiPixFor B&W images I use Noir Photo and Monokrom.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

What do you find to be the greatest challenges and rewards of being an app junkie?

The greatest challenge to be an app junkie is to be able sift through all of the apps being made available to find thse that are any good, or could be of any use. This goes hand in hand with the greatest reward which would be discovering that one hidden little gem of an app that opens up a new creative outlet.

What is your creative advice to others who are inspired but don't know where to begin?

Join MobiTog! This is a must. The community is warm and inviting and friendly. You will be supported and helped with whatever questions you may have. There is no negativity at all, it is the perfect place for an inspired artist to land. There is so much incredible artwork to view and entertaining challenges to enter. All of which will inspire you more and encourage you to create and to share your creations.

iPhoneography by Robert Lancaster

Where can people see your work and connect with you online? 

I have tried all of the image sharing and photography related social media websites like Instagram (@zaroblan), Flickr, IPA and Oggl. But all of these have not been updated in a long while. The main reason for this is MobiTog. I have been a member for around two years and post there regularly. I recently joined the ranks of Site Staff at MobiTog. Feel free to pop on over to visit us, we really are a friendly bunch. 

 

Creative iPhoneographer Linda Hollier

Linda Hollier

Linda Hollier

 Hello, Linda! Could you tell us a little about your background and how you got started with creative iPhone photography and/or art?

Born in South Africa, one of my first wishes as a child was to own a camera. I would make all the neighborhood children line up to have their photos taken!

I enjoy traveling, am fascinated by different cultures, have lived for almost ten years in Germany, and am currently living in Dubai.

Upon my arrival in the Middle East, I was inspired by stories of bedouins, nomads who lived in the deserts. They embodied wandering and mobility and an awareness of the interconnectedness of life. With this in mind I began a project which I called #mobileart. Photos were taken with my mobile phone while I was out wandering, were posted immediately via twitter, and many of them were of art in various forms.

Then came my iPhone, Instagram and the world of apps! 

Corridors of Cyberspace I by Linda Hollier

Corridors of Cyberspace I by Linda Hollier

A lover of architecture, I began photographing and posting on Instagram, the wonderful architecture found in Dubai.  Round about the same time, I started my website here2here on which I promote mindfulness as well as investigate cyberspace - the mindspace we find ourselves in when using technology to communicate. 

Interested in exploring the architecture of cyberspace, I began experimenting with various apps to create a series I called “Digital Archways”.  Later, in an attempt to express visually the experience of cyberspace using the very tools found there, I edited photos of Dubai architecture to create the series entitled “Corridors of Cyberspace”  (These series can also be found in the Galleries section on my website)

My love for creative iPhone photography had begun. 

What are you thinking about most in your creative life these days?

Shortly after I began experimenting with the app Slowshutter, I visited Istanbul and attended a Whirling Dervishes Sema Ceremony. This has inspired me to try to figure out new ways of portraying the whole concept of rootedness and movement occurring simultaneously, through my images.  

Which subjects do you return to again and again? 

Architectural structures are recurring subjects, but photographed and edited in such a way as to encourage the viewer to take on new perspectives. Lately I find myself drawn to photographing people, but in such a way that it does not reveal their identity.

Corridors of Cyberspace II by Linda Hollier

Corridors of Cyberspace II by Linda Hollier

Two of your recurring themes are architecture and a nomadic lifestyle. Do you feel there is a contrast between these two topics, how we design more permanent homes and how we live with mobile homes? Or do you feel they are connected, each shining a light on the other topic? 

Architecture, in my opinion, is always a reflection of human experience. It is alive with the ideas and aspirations of its architects, and the culture they find themselves in. It glimmers with consciousness as it reflects the hopes and fears of its builders.

I believe that the whole concept of “home” is acquiring new meaning.

More people in this century have access to travel than ever before. Many individuals are in a sense nomadic in that they live in many different countries within a lifetime. Even without physical travel, the internet has made the viewing of new worlds available to the masses. This increase in movement and exposure undoubtedly affects, and is reflected in, the way we design the houses or apartments we live in. 

You mentioned your interest in mindfulness and the architecture of cyberspace, perhaps one could say these are aspects of our inner landscape? Would you say that we at least partly create our identities, our mindspaces, and are in a way, the architects of our inner landscapes? Or would you say that when we go on an inner adventure, we can also encounter structures that were unknown to ourselves? 

Much in our inner landscapes was planted there by parents, teachers, peers and experiences. When we make the decision to set out on an inner adventure this is the first thing we discover. Mindfulness over a period of time brings this to awareness as we discover that much of our behavior is simply programmed reaction.

When we decide to go on an inner adventure, we discover that we too have been architects of our inner landscapes through many of the choices we have made. In this terrain, if we look carefully, we will also find other structures - aspects of ourselves we have chosen to suppress or ignore and others we have not realized existed. Beyond it all we discover the vast openness filled with silence and from which all creativity arises. 

Movement in the Mall by Linda Hollier

Movement in the Mall by Linda Hollier

Which role has the internet and image sharing taken in your development as an artist? 

The availability of tutorials online, such as those you share in your flipboard magazines and your pinterest boards, have helped me to explore new techniques.  The exposure to the works of other artists via the internet has fueled my creativity.  The feedback received when sharing images on the spot across the globe, regardless of time and space, has helped me develop confidence in my art. 

My art flows out of and into a shared community and I often think to myself lately, “I’m a cyborg now! ” (See “Technology and Transformation” )

Speaking of mindfulness, the internet and the many ways to share images online, how do you deal with internet related stress and overwhelm? 

I don’t believe that we can speak about the “real” world and the “online” world as if they were two separate entities. Being online is part of everyday life for many of us. The challenge for me is to find the right balance in my activities and to remember to remain grounded. When online, I often just stop and take three deep breaths. Having read once that many people hold their breath and forget to breathe when checking emails, I thought this would be a good idea!

I also make use of the technology at our disposal and am exploring mindfulness meditation apps such as “Insight Timer” and “GPS for the Soul”.  

How would you describe your style? 

I am still searching to come up with a new word to describe my style. Using the terminology I have come across in the online photographic communities, I would say that it fluctuates often between the abstract and the painterly styles. Some people who have seen some of my recent work find it hard to believe that it was created on an iPhone. 

I am of the opinion that true art takes the viewer beyond themselves and is so much more than mere technique. I suspect that we are currently witnessing a revolution in the creation of images, and that the boundaries between hand painted art and the art created on devices using photographs and apps, are beginning to blur. I am grateful to be part of this movement. 

Movement in the Mall by Linda Hollier

Movement in the Mall by Linda Hollier

Can you tell us about your workflow and the apps you use the most? 

The exact outcome of a piece I am working on is not always known to me at the onset. I mostly use the Iphone’s native camera to shoot my images except when I am using SlowShutter. The first app I use for fine tuning is Snapseed.  I have recently begun to create my own textures using Gradient Color and Glaze.  Working with various other apps such as Decim8, Scratchcam, XnView Fx and Blender, which often produce surprising results, I then go through the countless resulting images until I find one that fully resonates with what I am attempting to express.  

Are you an appoholic, constantly trying out new apps and techniques, or do you tend to stick with a small set of tools? 

I don’t know if I would describe myself as an appoholic but I do love to try out new apps and techniques. I will fall back on different ones depending on the image I am working on, but mostly use the ones mentioned above. 

What is your creative advice to others who are inspired but don't know where to start?

In the field of creative iPhone photography and art I suggest downloading apps and experimenting. Play, have fun and discover your own style. Being part of a sharing community is also a great help and encouragement.   

What would be your creative dream project? 

This question excites me. I hope to have many dream projects, but at the moment my creative dream project is to exhibit the series I am currently working on. 

We are so much more than just our bodies and even in cyberspace one begins to pick up on the energy of others by their avatars and the way in which they communicate and share. I am now attempting to portray this energy in my images and to show Essence and Presence. What started out as capturing movement in the mall has developed into this project.  

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?

I'd like to thank you very much Kate for this interview. You are doing a wonderful job in the iphoneography world for mobile art and photography. 

Where can people see your work and connect with you online? 

I post regularly to Instagram and have started adding some of have my work on Flickr. I am a regular user of Twitter, and am also on Pinterest. I have a professional Facebook page.

You can also connect with me via my website here2here.

The Flame by Linda Hollier

The Flame by Linda Hollier

Creative iPhoneographer Vanessa Penrose

Vanessa Penrose

Vanessa Penrose

Creative iPhoneography. By Vanessa Penrose. 

Creative iPhoneography. By Vanessa Penrose. 

Hello Vanessa! Could you tell us a little about how you got started with creative iPhone photography and art?

I have been interested in photography since the age of 15 when my parents bought me a SLR camera as a present.  Although I have strayed into other mediums over the years I have recently rediscovered my interest in photography through iPhoneography.  Having completed some of Kate’s courses, being introduced to the potential  and connected with others with similar interests my interest in iPhoneography continues to grow and develop as I continue to explore iPhone technology and the world around me and within me.  This is definitely a work in progress I have to say.

iPhoneography by Vanessa Penrose

iPhoneography by Vanessa Penrose

How do you feel when you’re making iPhoneography images?

I feel curious and excited to see what I can do and create from what I see around me every day the potential feels limitless.

What are you thinking about most in your creative life these days?

I always carry my iPod with me (I do not have an iPhone but my iPod works very well) and I am always looking around me for a photograph opportunity.  Exploring the world of iPhoneography has I feel brought the creative life into my every day not just something for later when I have some free time.

I continue to look for ways to integrate my creative life into my ‘real’ life… still working on that one.

Mobile art. By Vanessa Penrose.

Mobile art. By Vanessa Penrose.

At the moment I am curious about budding trees and flowers and the sun shining through leaves and trees and around buds and flowers and how I can capture this on the go using my ipod.  I am also interested in the patterns they created against the sky, so I find myself under plants or trees looking up a lot.

By Vanessa Penrose.  

By Vanessa Penrose.  

By Vanessa Penrose

By Vanessa Penrose

Are there any colours or textures that you keep returning to, in your images?

It’s kind of a movable feast – there are not any particular colours that I return to although I am interested in contrasts such as light/dark, bright colours and dark colours (tones) which is interesting to play with in the post processing stage. Texture and patterns seem to be a focus at the moment in the form of blossoms, budding trees and flowers, architecture and such.  With respect to the apps I do enjoy creating texture using Tangled FX, Distressed FX or Repix and the textures created with Glaze can be interesting to particularly with flowers and blossoms. 

I have been fascinated with a twisted hazel tree I have in the garden and the patterns the branches create against the spring/summer sky and the growth of the buds which have now become twisty leaves that the sun shines through.

By Vanessa Penrose. 

By Vanessa Penrose. 

Which are your favourite apps for expressing yourself creatively?

My favourite apps – umm!  It’s difficult to choose it depends on what I’m trying to achieve with a picture (sometimes I don’t know I just go with the flow) – Snapseed is a good all rounder  I particularly like to use the Drama and Grunge part of this app to create contrast and texture. Blender is another one I like to use - it is interesting to see a new picture emerge by the combination of 2 or more pictures.  Dramatic HD can create some interesting black and white photographs.  Tangled FX can add vibrant colours to a picture and some fascinating patterns and designs can emerge.  Distressed FX can add interesting texture.  I have just begun to explore Hipstamatic and feel this would be an interesting app to explore further with less of an emphasis on post photo processing.

By Vanessa Penrose

By Vanessa Penrose

What do you find to be the greatest challenges and rewards of being an iPhoneographer?

The greatest reward for me is in exploring the things I am curious about and in rediscovering old pictures and transforming them in to something new .  iPhoneography has opened my eyes to the world around me enabling me to explore through the lens and create art that I enjoy through post processing.

What is your creative advice to others who are inspired but don’t know where to start?

Make a start – carry your iphone/ipod with you snap away and just play… expect to get a little obsessed, to create pictures you don’t really like and lots and lots that you do like and then if you like share them…

Vanessa, thanks so much for this interview! For sharing where you are just now in your creative process and for all your great app advice! 

Find out More about  Vanessa Penrose

spirit of a rose

 

Creative iPhoneographer Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann

Creative iPhoneographer Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann

Creative iPhoneographer Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann

Hello Sascha, could you tell us a little about how you got started with creative iPhone photography and art? 

I subscribed to your newsletter a while ago and so I followed your creative path with iPhone photography and art. I really liked what you were (are) doing and when you offered the Christmas Card Workshop last year I took the class and was already fascinated what one can do with an iPhone. So I took your 3 following workshops, once I participated I couldn't stop. ;)

How do you feel when you're making iPhoneography images?

Creative, playful, curious, exploring

What are you thinking about most in your creative life these days?

How I can combine my three creative expressions: Taking photos with my iPhone and adapting them with different apps, dancing Flamenco, and writing short stories/novels.

Are there any colours or textures that you keep returning to, in your images? 

No, not really, I have phases when I prefer to work with one subject a lot:

During the workshop Getting started with iPhoneography it was our cat:

iPhoneography. Black Cat. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

iPhoneography. Black Cat. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

During the workshop Creative iPhoneography I was taking lots of urban photos:

iPhoneography. Zürich: New York Food. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

iPhoneography. Zürich: New York Food. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

iPhoneography. Flamenco. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

iPhoneography. Flamenco. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

For the Alumni Workshop my project was about dancing (Flamenco), that's why dancers kept returning, but also the Spanish word „bailar“ (to dance). This project is not finished, so this theme will continue to show up in my images.

Which are your favourite apps for expressing yourself creatively? 

Oh, there are so many, and it depends on the picture I want to create.   For the last weeks: Blender, Repix, TouchRetouch and PhotoInWord

You write, you dance and you create iPhoneography. Do you feel like these different areas cross-pollinate creatively?  

There is a cross pollination effect between my different forms of creativity. I get ideas for pictures after reading what I just wrote for example. Like a scene I wrote and I think about capture it with my iPhone/with iPhoneography, it doesn't have to show the "real scene", it's most of the times just the emotions or the senses of the scene I want to capture in a picture. 

And then there's Flamenco which took its place as a theme in my iPhoneography-work and made me start to use apps where I could double a person, the repetition of dancing is showing up in the pictures. 

I didn't find a combination the other way around, I mean from my iPhoneography to my writing or dancing, but I guess there is one, I just don't get it yet...

What do you find to be the greatest challenges and rewards of being an iPhoneographer?

Challenge: Not to overdo an image with an app or different apps, when I started out I was so fascinated by the possibilities I was sometimes doing to much and I didn't like the image anymore. So during the Alumni workshop I „stepped back“ and sometimes left an image just the way it was – no apps at all. 

iPhoneography. Gorilla. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

iPhoneography. Gorilla. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

Rewards: With a small tool like the iPhone I can express my creativity anytime, because I have it with me all the time (more or less) and also if a photo I took wasn't that great, I still can use it most of the time to process it through apps. Actually the reverse of the challenging part. :) 

I finally can express myself visually! I always liked visual art, but didn't feel comfortable (being well enough) drawing or painting. With iPhoneography I found a tool I like to handle, to be creative with and express myself visually besides my writing and dancing.

What is your creative advice to others who are inspired but don't know where to start?

If you have the possibility, take a workshop with Kate! If not, just walk around with curiosity and you may see things you haven't noticed before, take a picture of those subjects. Try to cultivate your eyes. If you do this for a week, you will have a few photos you can use in apps. I would recommend to work with one app after the other, so you don't get overwhelmed. Just play around with one and when you get used to it, start with another.

iPhoneography. Lioness. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

iPhoneography. Lioness. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

The same approach I use for writing. Beeing curious, paying attention to small stuff and starting with small things. Don't try to write a novel, if you haven't written fiction before, start with a short story. And to cultivate your writing, read a lot, find out, why you like a book, maybe it's of the rhythm of the language, maybe it's just the story itself or something else.

iPhoneography. Cat on film. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

iPhoneography. Cat on film. By Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann.

Last, but not least, carry a notebook with you everywhere you go. (I also keep one beside my bed becauase late night ideas are sometimes the best!) If something comes to your mind, you can write it down. Or if you hear a conversation you find interesting, you can write it down. Every now and again I got inspired by a conversation to write a scene. Sometimes it would also fit into a story.

Thank you so very much Sascha, for your thoughtful and inspiring thoughts around your creative life! 

Find out more about Sascha-Irena Wilkesmann: 

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Flickr

Ben Guerrette: on Creating Deco Sketch, the Geometric Effects and Drawing Suite

Ben Guerrette

Ben Guerrette

Hello Ben, could you tell us a little more about your background. I love your title, Creative Technologist, and my feeling is that you're an artist and developer? 

Thats exactly right, I'm an artist and developer. I began my career in graphic design many moons ago and then eventually transitioned to programming. Now I combine the two disciplines for use in my own work for arts sake and for others to interact and create with. Most of my career has been in web development though I'm now working to getting out of the browser putting efforts towards app creation for mobile, PC and Mac. Hopefully I can also find more time for creating interactive art installations as well.

What does it mean to be a Creative Technologist?

The term Creative Technologist is essentially another step past Creative Coder, which is to me, someone who programs visual output of some form or another be it for interactive or just viewing purposes. A Creative Technologist is someone who incorporates hardware into their work as well with audio, visual, controller and motion sensing equipment. My work spans multiple outputs and forms of interaction from mobile to desktop and live projections. I can’t claim ownership of the term. There’s lots of people in my field who use it as well.

I never sought out to build a painting application that mimicked anything you could do with a physical brush. I wanted unusual painting tools that users didn’t know what to do with at first. It pushes people to work outside of their comfort zone and thus discover and create something completely new and different.
— Ben Guerrette
Deco Sketch

Deco Sketch

How did you get the idea for developing your own art app? 

The initial release of Deco Sketch was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to try my hand at app development after spending the last 15 years working primarily on the web. At the time, standards were changing rapidly so it seemed like a good direction to move in.

The basic idea for version 1.0 was to create a simple drawing app with brush strokes that animated. It needed to be a simple in that anyone artistic or otherwise to create something beautiful or chaotic. The early versions of Deco Sketch had animate shapes as you painted. The elements would grow slightly. It was somewhere between art app and meditation tool.

The name derived from the look of 2 of the initial brushes that when combined, gave an art deco type look.

What makes you really excited about expressing yourself creatively with your iPhone or iPad?

I’d have to say the restrictions presented with a the size and form factor of a mobile device. It forces me to bend and tweak a particular tool and explore new ways to use it. Not having the “kitchen sink” so to speak, forces you explore every angle and nook of a particular tool finding new ways to use it. And while it may seem obvious, the ability to draw on a screen. The mouse was always a huge hand to eye disconnect and imprecise. I spend a lot of time sketching and drawing doodles when I was younger and unfortunately stopped altogether after working on a computer for so long. I always dreamed of a Wacom tablet that doubled as a screen which I believe eventually came out way before affordable touchscreen devices but was much too expensive for the average designer.

Card Trick. By Ben Guerrette. Created with Deco Sketch

Card Trick. By Ben Guerrette. Created with Deco Sketch

What makes Deco Sketch a unique tool for creative expression?

The lack of familiar tools and the “outside of the box” approach with the various brushes. I never sought out to build a painting application that mimicked anything you could do with a physical brush. I wanted unusual painting tools that users didn’t know what to do with at first. It pushes people to work outside of their comfort zone and thus discover and create something completely new and different.

With the Grid Snapping feature in Deco Sketch you’re able to space things easily while also varying stroke sizes. You can then layer on strokes in a more random approach giving a nice juxtaposition between neatly spaced elements and some chaos. Added with the Color Sampling when painting on a photo, the instant matching of color brings composition to a whole new level.

Additionally, Deco Sketch provides simple tools in which a non artist can create something striking just by experimenting and playing around. No art skills required.

Show us a feature in Deco Sketch that you love. 

If I were to narrow it down to one thing it’d have to be Color Sampling. The ability to instance match geometry color to that of which I’m painting provide endless creative opportunities while paired with the various shapes that can be painted with. Depending on the size of the brush you can go in with detailed strokes creating abstract pointillism looks, patterned color landscapes or just simple and subtle embellishments.

Deco Sketch: Color Sampling Feature

Deco Sketch: Color Sampling Feature

Deco Sketch: Continuous Line Tool

Deco Sketch: Continuous Line Tool

And another?

The new continuous line tool is definitely a versatile favorite as well. I’m always finding new ways to use it and stumbling over accidental coolness. Being so different from the other brushes I think it’s an untapped feature that few users comprehend. There’s some folks I see experimenting but it seems most just use the presets. I’ve no doubt this is a direct result of the unorthodox approach I’ve taken with the app. I’m completely aware of the steep learning curve and working to come up with a smarter approach for version 2.0.

A quick tip for users. Using one of the line tools presets that has grid snapping on, scroll to the end of the brush settings and check the poorly named “Dot Lines Echo” option. This provides some pretty cool effects. Turn on 1 or all of the “speed affects” options for some more unique effects.

Deco Sketch: Quick Tip

Deco Sketch: Quick Tip

What’s the most important element of a well designed app for photography and art?

Even before a well designed user interface, quality of effects, and ease of use, the app MUST have high resolution output. At a bare minimum, 6 megapixels is good though 8 is preferred. The higher the better.

While resolution is important it has less to do with how well designed the app is and more to do with user expectations. A great app for photography art or otherwise should be intuitive and easy to use. The interface should not get in the way and there should be no question on to use it.

Which role do the users of Deco Sketch have in the development of the app?

Photo loading was the absolute biggest request. There was a small user base early on that was outputting images from DS and blending with other apps. I worked hard to include photo loading for 1.6 but ultimately failed right out of the gate. I implemented it as a secondary feature when it really need to be a robust first tier major function. I went back to the drawing board and revamped the core of the app for version 1.7 based on a lot of beta testing and user feedback on how it should be done.

The zoom, eyedropper, redo and 1.8’s improved UI were all user requested features as well. And while not directly requested by users, some of the brushes were inspired by work I saw on Instagram.

Deco Sketch Tutorial

Deco Sketch Tutorial

What would be your advice to someone who's just starting out using Deco Sketch?

Follow the rainbow tutorial on the help page. It covers a number of the brushes and their nuances, how to customize their various settings as well as a look into the power of the erase tool.

Additionally, try turning off the “Draw speed affects...” settings to see how they change brush strokes. Experiment with different brushes using the Color Sampling feature. You’ll be surprised of of the different effects you can achieve.

One of the unique aspects of digital art is that it's illuminated, emitting light from the screen? This light is lost when we print out our work on paper. Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to easily display your art as light projections in a room, with the help of an app? 

Video projections are an old passion of mine that I’m still experimenting with when I find the time. Specifically, large scale interactive pieces using motion control technologies like the Microsoft Kinect. Motion Sketch is a recent piece I showcased at Create:Fixate in Los Angeles in the autumn of 2012. Below is a short teaser. I’m actually in talks with someone right now about putting together a large scale piece to promote a major shoe company for an event in Stockholm.

It's easy to burn out on a job you're passionate about. How do you deal with staying enthusiastic, creating your own organisational culture, and finding time to refill your well?

I’m incredibly inspired by the iPhoneography community on a daily basis. I use Instagram quite a bit and follow some very talented folks. Their work pushes me to better both my own art, Deco Sketch as well as coming up with new ideas for other creative apps.

The co-working space I spend my days in, 3rd Space, helps to keep me motivated also. I’m surrounded by incredibly talented young entrepreneurs who are all very passionate about their work. Everyone is very helpful in pushing each other to better themselves and stay motivated.

When I’m not creating art or working, time in nature and the oppositely bustling city keep me inspired.

Post modern futuristic retro art found during time travel to the 17th century. By Ben Guerrette. Created with Deco Sketch

Post modern futuristic retro art found during time travel to the 17th century. By Ben Guerrette. Created with Deco Sketch

Artists are often interdisciplinary "neophiles." We're in love with novelty, invention, innovation and reinvention. Connecting the dots in new and unexpected ways. Sometimes that even means constantly reinventing yourself. How do you allow for flexibility and creativity, whilst maintaining the solid presence needed to support your software business?

Expressionist creative projects are a necessity to keep the mind working. Things that don’t necessarily make sense or have a legitimate purpose are required to keep ideas moving. It doesn’t need to have any deep meaning but rather just give me or anyone who wants to experiment with it something to play with. Like this Grid Glitcher or this String DNA. You need to be willing to scrap an entire days work or just turn around and walk away from the so called “good idea” you had. Accepting change is necessity as well as trying new things. Change in trends, new technologies and wants from users.

What do you find to be the greatest challenges and rewards of developing your own photo and art app?

The greatest rewards are in seeing the different ways in which users utilize Deco Sketch. The creative community continually inspires me giving me new ideas for future updates.

The biggest challenge would have to be containing all my ideas and figuring out a smart way to package them into either Deco Sketch or a new app.

In Time. By Ben Guerrette. Created with Deco Sketch

In Time. By Ben Guerrette. Created with Deco Sketch

Any suggestions to others who would like to develop their own app, but don’t know where to start?

Start small. Keep all your ideas on paper but keep the final output limited. It’s very easy for users to get overwhelmed with features. It’s better to have an app the does one thing well rather than a lot of things OK. Get feedback early on from the type of people you expect will use it.

Can you share any of the goals you have for Deco Sketch during 2013?

This has been an incredible life changing year so far and I’ve got a number of projects in the works right now. I’m currently porting Deco Sketch for use on both the MAC and PC with capabilities to take advantage of the Leap Motion Controller that’s coming out in late July. I’m actually running an crowdfunding campaign to help complete the project. You can learn more about my goals here.

Additionally I’m collaborating with Pixite, the team behind photo management apps Web Albums, Flickring, and Unbound. We’re building a new creative app for iPhone called Tangent where you can apply patterned photo filters to your images while also using unique framing tools. It’s something new unlike any other photo filter apps in the App Store. There’s an Instagram account @tangentapp for news and updates.

I’m hoping to get a revamped 2.0 version of Deco Sketch with more user friendly approach launched before the end of the year. I’m also playing with the idea of publishing a book of the many talented works being created by Deco Sketch users.

Thank you Kate for this opportunity and for all your support in my projects!

Explore Deco Sketch:

Exploded Diagram. By Ben Guerrette. Created with Deco Sketch

Exploded Diagram. By Ben Guerrette. Created with Deco Sketch

© 2014 Marmalade Moon