Saturday, April 03, 2010

What's in the iPad for artists and illustrators?

Today the iPad launches in the USA and this post speculates about what it might mean for artists and illustrators. (Here in the UK we have to wait until late April to get our hands on one!)

I've been watching videos of one in use - by Apple - and by reviewers (such as MacWorld and Wired) - and have begun to twig that this is hardware/software which is going to be hugely useful for apps for artists - especially ones who are interested in innovatives ways of marketing their art or learning about art.

I'm just wondering whether anybody has started on developing those apps as yet.

Features which are going to be very helpful

To quote Apple these are:
  • a 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology. IPS (in-plane switching) provides for a wide, 178° viewing angle. So you can hold it almost any way you want and still get a brilliant picture, with excellent color and contrast. (If it's anything like my new iMac screen you'll be very impressed)
  • the multi-touch screen is very precise and responsive
  • the 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery provides a ten hour battery life. Which is great for when you're 'in the field' all day (eg at an art fair) and don't have a chance to recharge a battery - it can display videos which fill the whole display for up to 10 hours
  • YouTube videos stream wirelessly so can transmit straight away
  • a choice of 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of flash storage
  • it uses a 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip which (I'm guessing) means that it's very heat efficient and the unit doesn't get hot
The official Apple visuals: If you've not watched them yet - here they are:
What are the ways artists are going to use the iPad?

Here's my list of ways in which I think the iPad could be used by artists and illustrators
  • showing your portfolio to a client - it offers the opportunity to show a portfolio on a website to a potential client (eg for portrait commissions or pitching for work) in a much more accessible way than you can using a laptop - plus it looks like any picture is going to look great on an iPad with the glass screen, the and the LED backlighting!
  • demonstrations by a tutor in a workshop or class - it's a fast and easy way of showing a pre-recorded video of how a technique works. It's more accessible as it's easy to pass around and the technology allows for a wide viewing angle. So when you're preoccupied with setting up or waiting for a wash to dry, you now have a way of continuing to demonstrate and show people how to do things
  • virtual private views - where artists write about / talk about / display their art in an exhibition any which way they choose. The sophistication as to presentation may take some time to become accessible to artists - but the scope is amazing - and you can see an example in.....
  • a completely new way of delivering art magazines. The trad. publishers better be fast on their feet with this otherwise they may end up being followers rather than leaders. The potential of the features (for example See Wired Magazine on iPad as explained in a YouTube video) are absolutely amazing! This is a recommended watch for all those who communicate via magazine or newsletter.
  • creating a comic/graphic book app - using your own illustrations. Maybe a little far-off as yet but I'd suggest this will come in time. Comics and graphical novels which already exist will get there faster - and I predict will create a surge in interest in this form of publication.
  • a completely different way of delivering art books - for art instruction and art history - using ibooks which uses the ePub format — the most popular open book format in the world. I'm also thinking what's happening re the scope to show magazines is completely transferable to art books - and I predict will completely change the economics of expensive art books. For example.........
  • expand visual presentation in art history books - the ability to feature several photos 'docked' in one place against a piece of text means that when explaining about an artist many more examples of his or her work could be used to provide evidence of the points being made
Maybe you've also had some ideas - in which case if you'd like to share please leave a comment below

Incidentally - isn't it rather clever to launch a product like this on a Saturday on one of the major 'holiday' breaks in the year? That'll be lots of time to spend time checking them out online or in the store!

Anybody notice that it's only taken a few weeks and I'm already becoming an apple nerd! I'm very seriously thinking of getting one of these. I'm very happy with my imac but when I want something portable I think this is highly likely to suit me better than a netbook.

and finally.....

The good ladies over at etsy are already hard at it producing arty sleeves and cases for the iPad.

Apple Links:
Video Review Links:


  1. With sketchbook pro for the iPad and if someone comes out with a stylus better than the pogo (I'm looking at you wacom) this will be a nice tool for digital sketching on the go. Can't wait for my 3G iPad to show up!!

    Sketchbook Pro on the ipad:

  2. I'm a professional Artist that has been painting oils for years. The past year I've been painting on the iPhone and now selling Giclees of my iPhone paintings. The iPad will be the new canvas for artist.
    Here are some of my paintings. Enjoyed your article

  3. Love my iMac, iPad, iPhone3gs. In the US we do have to wait for the iPad Super release is late April. I know it will be an iEye Opener for everyone. A great tool for all artist.
    Happy Holy Saturday!

  4. This is a great list of applications for creatives. I'm a book editor for textile art and craft books, and yes, we're looking closely at how to work with iPad technology for both books and magazines. But there's an interesting article in today's NY Times about permissions, with a focus on art books in particular, that adds a note of caution about how publishers will go forward.

  5. This is the link one NY Times article
    Can the iPad Do Whatever a Comics Store Can?

    Plus there's Looking at the iPad From Two Angles

    But I didn't spot the reference to art books and copyright - can anybody help with the reference?

  6. I just want one and I want one now! Think I might have to wait tho!

  7. as in 'until the end of the month'? :)

  8. Found it!

    The End of History (Books) by Marc Aronson

    An interesting perspective and one which will surely get debated at length.

    I can see it doing interesting things to the asset values of the current balance sheets of publishing houses.

    I also anticipate that there might be a huge surge in author/artist led publishing - since individuals often find ways round things faster than corporations. Even legal ways round!

  9. I am not yet convinced that the iPad provides me with anything more than I can achieve on my iPod Touch, simply a larger version.

    I have a netbook which allows me flexibility and more options than iPad can provide.

    iPad technology may work with books as a reader, but frankly, I prefer my books in my hand, not on a small screen.

    Yes, it could work as an electronic portfolio. I'd love to hear a gallery's input on that aspect.

    For the cost of the iPad and if you go with it, the 3G services, compared to what it provides, I don't believe its worth it. I can do the same with my iPod Touch.

    So for me, my money is staying in my pocket and the Touch and netbook are my travel companions.

  10. is the correct link for the "The End of History (Books)" article in the NY times

  11. I just got back to the studio from the Mac Store (Chicago) with a bag slung over my shoulder.....not an ipad but my repaired macbook pro which had been filled with tea courtesy of the children a few weeks back. so it was CRAZY busy in the store and I had to stand in line just to play with an iPad but play I did. Its really light compared to a macbook. And its really pretty, like my ipod. But I cant put Photoshop on it. And I cant put it in my pocket. I cant plug in an external drive, or a dvd. And I wonder if it would be better to make a laptop more like a phone than a phone more like a laptop? That said....I want one.


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