Mar 20 2011

iAMDA is now accepting entries for its first ONLINE EXHIBITION.

Matthew Watkins

iAMDA is now accepting entries for its first ONLINE EXHIBITION.  We are calling all artists to submit works for “THE UNSEEN”, an online showcase of mobile digital works that push the boundaries of what we know and have seen in the past–visually and/or creatively.

The show is juried by visual artist, Michael James Miller.  Miller’s paintings, installations, and prints investigate the continuing relationship between art and technology. He is currently an Associate Professor of Visual Arts at The University of Illinois, Springfield.

Selected works will be featured in an online exhibition hosted on and will remain in the exhibition archives (accessible on the site) after it closes.

Michael will also select a first place winner who will be awarded the coveted Apple iPad 2.  Four others will receive our “juror’s award”,  a $25 iTunes gift card.  All other selected artists will have the distinct privilege of having their work displayed in iAMDA’s first annual online exhibition, with name listing and site/blog links.  All works will be added to remain in our show archives after the exhibition closes.

Winners and selected artists will be contacted prior to the show’s launch on April 15th.

So…what are you waiting for?! Show us what we have yet to see!

To submit or learn more about the show theme, download the our submissions form.  Email the completed form and up to 3 images of work to DEADLINE IS APRIL 4th, 2011.

Mar 13 2011

iAMDA Guilford Fingerpainting Event

Matthew Watkins

A big thanks to Paul Kercal for making all of this happen.

Mar 9 2011

Inkpad App Reviewed by John Bavaro



Inkpad. A Simple but not Simplistic Vector App

Review by John Bavaro

Last October, Brushes developer Steve Sprang, and founder of Taptrix Inc. teased the attendees of the iAMDA Mobile Art Con with a creation in the works- a vector program called “Inkpad” which he had slated for release in November of 2010. Much like the “Brushes” app, it had an enticing “touch and go” quality about it, with the ability to easily make paths, add and delete anchor points, create unlimited vector layer and custom gradients, etc. He effortlessly demonstrated a test piece in real time for conference attendees, and the prototype looked like it might be yet another Taptrix success. While the eventual debut was actually four months delayed, It appears that it might have been worth the wait. Early reviews of it are good, in the 4+ range on the iTunes Store, and my own experience of it has been very positive.



It’s NOT Illustrator

First of all, don’t expect a high-powered $1.99 version of Adobe Illustrator. It’s not even close, and despite its capabilities, Inkpad is not meant to compete with a professional desktop program (yet). Its tool palette is somewhat sparse, containing only one free drawing tool (a brush icon), which creates shapes. In order to draw a line, one has to use the stroke option with no fill at the smallest line quality. There are no spray paints or texture paints yet. It has a simple oval and rectangle tool, an eyedropper, a pen nib for adding and subtracting anchor points, a selection tool, a direct selection tool, a scaling tool and a rotation tool. The bottom menu allows users to “select all on layer” or “select all” in general, and this is useful for scaling, moving, all or selected elements in the drawing. I was actually surprised with the simple, and limited tool bar, but Sprang pulls off the “less is more” effort  and a user can immediately figure it out without plodding through the help menu.  I would hope that future updates might eventually add a live paint bucket, custom brushes,  an eraser tool, a line segment tool, etc. While it’s possible to turn text into an editable “object”, (it can be scaled, turned flipped, etc), it’s not possible to fill text with a custom gradient, or to convert it to outlines in order to make bezier curves and alter the text object’s shape- a staple of text editing in vector programs. Perhaps this omission will also be addressed in a future update.

Despite these limitations, the app is remarkably versatile, intuitive and can easily provide an artist with a sketch on the go that can be outputted as an .svg file directly to your Dropbox, or emailed as a .png, .svg, .jpg, or .pdf. The ability to export as an .svg is a valuable feature, as it can be edited in Adobe Illustrator (with all paths intact.  It might not be the software of choice as a complete “studio” software  in its own right, but it certainly can be your “subway commute software,” and that presents a remarkable opportunity for artists and designers to work on the fly and produce a more than adequate start to a legitimate design. The serviceable sketch that this app can produce serves as more than just a base for a finished, publishable product. In fact, a skilled designer could easily produce a finished piece with it from start to finish.

How is the Engineering?

What the app lacks in extras, it makes up for in the intuitive interface. Sprang has a good sense of programming from the point of view of the user, and not from the mind of the developer’s “in-language.”  This kind of ready-to-use quality is what can make or break an app in a few cursory tries, and it can make the difference between becoming a “go-to” app, and one that never gets used again. Inkpad’s  drawing brush, layer menus, toolbars, intuitive tapping and pinching reactions, etc, almost always do exactly what one would expect them to do, reflecting an intuitive engineering that doesn’t lose a user in the process of artmaking. Simply put, the app WORKS like it should.


Screen Shot of an Inkpad shot in progress

Some of the other vector apps such as Paintbook 3.2, iDesign and others actually have more capabilities for drawings and versatility for layers, but I find them to be a little less intuitive, or at least having a slightly steeper learning curve. While digital-savvy artists might actually prefer complexity and extended tool options, the layman artist probably will want to be able to jump right in. Like Brushes, Inkpad seems to bridge the amateur-professional divide with a user interface that doesn’t require a training seminar.

Brushes users, or those who enjoy pure drawing/painting might not really enjoy, or have a need for Inkpad-nor might professional designers who are already accustomed to a more complex language. But Inkpad produces a product that will be immediately recognizable as the graphic design lexicon of the day. Early artist efforts I’ve seen on the Ikpad Flickr site consist mostly of designs made up of color-fields, stroked with surrounding lines or merely consisting of  a conglomeration of hard-edged organic or geometric shapes. This style ironically resurrected or perpetuated the modernist obsession with flattening and fragmentation, while the computer has codified it as a uniquely 21st Century style. I  haven’t seen many artists directly incorporating the photograph yet, and this may relate to the absence of erasers or the ability to alter layer opacities. These features, if added might might provide for more subtlety and versatility in the apps end products.

To Buy or Not to Buy.

Sprang originally announced that the app was to debut at $9.99, which would already be reasonable if it weren’t for the fact that we’ve now become accustomed to anything in the $5.99-$9.99 range as the going price of a “professional iPad app”. Taptrix Inc. has debuted Inkpad at an introductory price of $1.99, which is most certainly an introductory offer. At this price, the app is more than a steal, but even when the cost goes up,  I would still advise any interested artist to grab it.  Its main strength is its speed and simplicity. It delivers in its ability to draw freeform shapes in unlimited layers, and to do it in “real time” without bogging down in a lot of memory delays. The ease, versatility and simplicity of it is quite remarkable. Sprang has  already proven with the Brushes app, that a well-designed app holds the day when it comes to gaining  word-of-mouth adoption.  I don’t know if Inkpad will rise to the level of popularity of Brushes. The drawing language isn’t for everyone, and the uninitiated, or the causal artist might not be inclined to employ the harder-edged, and more commercial language of graphic design or have the patience to draw solid fields exclusively via bezier paths (as opposed to traditional brushwork).  For that reason, it might be confined to a more limited crowd than a drawing/painting app. But certainly, with this app, and other vector apps, the challenge will be to court high school and university-level art courses, as there is a real need for vector apps that don’t require many tutorials. An app like Inkpad might be just such a solution for mass-usage. Time will tell if Inkpad” enters the vernacular as a default term for iPad vector graphics in much the same way as “Brushes” became synonymous with fingerpainting at its inception, but it’s a solid debut, and further evidences that mobile art is well on its way to the popular mainstream of art and design.


John Bavaro is an artist and an Associate Professor of Art at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

Mar 7 2011

Painting of the day: Waiting for high tide by Benjamin Rabe

Matthew Watkins

Waiting for high tide

Done on Inkpad App on iPAd by Benjamin Rabe.

Feb 8 2011

Being Digital

Matthew Watkins

Being Digital: Bunny and Pig

So where is the original anyways?

(Adobe ideas on ipad)

Jan 12 2011

Oprah’s onto Fingerpainting


Autodesk (creators of Sketchbook Mobile and Sketchbook Pro for iphone and iPad) have teamed up with O Magazine to create Sketchbook O,  a free drawing/painting application for readers who’d like to explore and partake in the joys of fingerpainting.
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Dec 9 2010

SketchBookMobile for Android released

Benjamin Rabe

Last week when I was at the 10×10 art show in Las Vegas, autodesk announced its android version of SketchBookMobile. I got my hands on it for 10 mins, it’s fast and has some nice interface improvements over the iPhone version, e.g. the ipad-style toolbar for quicker access to settings:

It’s 99c on the app-market.

Also, the voting for the SketchBook Hero Contest is up.

Sep 14 2010

An Iphone painted narrative

Benjamin Rabe

Very funny and clever clip by fellow mobile artist cloudbuilder, who’s also one of the driving forces behind the upcoming Mobile Art Conference in NYC btw.

Lady Pepperell’s Folly from cloudbuilder on Vimeo.

Aug 19 2010

Džepni fest2: A Festival of Pocket Art

Matthew Watkins

One of the most exciting mobile digital art festivals took place recently in the historic City of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina when the second Festival of Pocket Art (Džepni fest2) opened Saturday August 13

In the category of painting on mobile devices (Fingerpainting) president of the jury was Miroslav Ambruš Kiš.

The Grand prix award for Fingerpainting went to Cédric Phillipe for his superb “Carrots”
Second place went to American author Jonathan Grauel for “Optimal Elevated Observation”. Via a video conference Jonathan told his moving story about accident in which he lost a finger and lost his sense of touch in other 2 fingers, except the little finger. He showed to the audience on the big screen how he paints on his iPhone.
Third place was won by editor Benjamin Rabe from Germany with his humorous work “Muppets”.

Other awards included:

Short film category
jury president was a famous actor from Mostar Slaven Knezović.

Grand Prix “Grow, grow my green Pine” by Mario Rakitić and Ivan Ćavar.

followed by Dominik Bajo with the film “Bicycle,” and Daria Zelenika’s film “The youngest folklore singer in the World”.

President of the Jury Peter Trinajstić from Rijeka (Croatia). Prominent Croatian photographer and filmmaker

The Grand Prix went to Matthew Watkins for the IPhoneography “Hopscotch“.

Three more photography prizes were given
1. Kristina Ćužić (Mostar) – Hand,
2. Franjo Bosnjak (Mostar) – Radobolja,
3. Lana Šator (Mostar) – Quiet street.

Text Messages
In the category of text messages president of the jury was Veselin Gatalo, famous poet from Mostar.
The winners were:
Grand Prix and 1 place Dominik Bajo – MOST,
2. Andrić, A place of peace,
3. Marko Bokšić – Morning.

Abstract Expression
A special jury prize for abstract expression went to the artist from Mostar – Anita Tomic.

Organiser of the event and Fingerpainter Roberta Betty Barbarić from Mosta made a presentation about iAMDA (Internatioanal Association of Mobile Digital Artists) and the upcoming conference in Otober in NYC.

Thank you Roberta!!

Joseph Zelenika, Festival’s Director and Chairman of the Croatian Society for Culture and Arts invited all to send their works to competition in all categories of Pocket art FEST next year.

Aug 16 2010

A complete Illustration job for a website, done on the iPad

Benjamin Rabe

Design by Moonlight

Joey Livingston is an avid fingerpainter who has been around quite a while, but to my own worries had turned a bit silent over the last weeks. Turns out he was busy with one of the most complete and impressing illustration projects done on the iPad that I’ve seen so far.

(I met Joey in a small café at the back of our minds for a little interview.)

Joey, you just relaunched your own website, Commotion Creative, completely illustrated on the iPad. What was your job in it?

I was the illustrator with the iPad. 🙂 Actually, it was my task to oversee the whole project. I did all the illustration work, designed the look and feel of the site, and did much of the writing.
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