We are delighted to publish our wonderful Columnist Sarah Jarrett’s latest article to her The New Renaissance Column. This section has a wide remit and takes the form of interviews with artists about their working techniques, looking at approaches to a particular theme by different artists, showcase some unusual collaborations between Sarah and other artists and offers insight into apps and their creative uses.
Sarah herself explains, ‘I am really passionate about this whole area, I have my ear to the ground and guarantee to uncover some really inspiring ideas – over to you Sarah (foreword by Joanne Carter).
“I have been really lucky to gain some insight into the world of the app developer through interviews with James Cuda, co-founder of Procreate, Teresita Alonso Garit developer of iColorama, Ilkka Teppo developer at Repix and Gilles Dezeustre from the 11ers,developer at Glaze. All four of these unique apps are profoundly integrated into my own creative journey in iPhoneography and the insight and feedback they all gave, makes for a fascinating read. Last Tuesday we published my interview with James Cuda:
In each installment I will illustrate the article with images I’ve made using mainly the featured app to demonstrate some of its individual, creative strengths. The most striking aspect from all the developers I interviewed is their intense, individual dedication to their app and its development and the genuine pride they have in their achievements.
This week I feature iColorama and interview its developer Teresita Alonso Garit’.
TAG/Teresita Alonso Garit
‘Life in Technicolor’ – © Sarah Jarrett
TAG – ‘iColorama is a creative’s dream. It has endless potential for experimentation and many striking and really unique effects. What I really admire most about Teresita is her complete dedication to constantly developing the app and moving it forwards and her inherent ability to really understand what users want and to connect with them. I wondered how she first developed the app?
‘As known, necessity is the mother of invention. I started develop iColorama when I could not find Photoshop in my tablet. I had also a clear vision of what I wanted to use in my iPad for creating images and I could not find any other app that covered these needs.
I had never developed any app for iOS before, but I had years of experience developing mobile apps for other systems and that helped a lot. I consider also myself a professional user of Photoshop and Corel Painter that I used in many projects. I was in love with many Photoshop plugins at that time. That made a perfect combination for starting. The first version of iColorama came after 3 weeks of hard work.’
SJ – What do you think makes this app so unique? What stands it apart from others?
TAG – ‘The goal with my app is to encourage users to find their own style. It requires more work, play and time from the users’ side, but I think they could create art in a way not possible by other apps. Not because many of the effects and brushes algorithm are unique in iColorama, but because the app will help to reflect their own, personal style.
iColorama is also in constant development. It covers and expands continually in different areas of image creation: there are presets for improving the image, heavy math deformations, brushes etc. Users can combine these in infinite ways.’
SJ – How much attention do you pay as an app developer to the imagery being created with the app? Does this influence its ongoing development? Do you interact with your users?
TAG – ‘I develop, test and promote iColorama alone, so I would say that without the users help it would be impossible to continue.
Today we have a community http://facebook.com/icolorama and a FB group where I interact directly with the users every day. The group is the place where we share new ideas, reports of problems, techniques. It is also where the new features are introduced, sometimes in real-time while I’m coding.
I can mention that a big help I get from users is that they tag their art with the iColorama tag. Every image tagged is a winning ad for the app. It is a huge help for an indie developer with limited resources for promoting the app.
And then some users help is outstanding: I would like to thank Jerry Jobe for writing and recording some fantastic tutorials for the app. His tutorials have helped many users in their way to learn the app.
In every occasion, I try to pay back by promoting users’ works and galleries. I understand that is very important for them and is just a little help from my side. Recently, I have started changing the app launch screen with images done by users, as a way to promote them. Yet, I think that the best way to pay back is to continue developing and improving the app, they just deserve it.’
SJ – Is there a point when you see the app has reached a state of perfection and needs no further changes? Do you feel compelled by competition to keep making the app better?
TAG – ‘I don’t see any possibility for perfection ! I use to compare the act of developing the app with the act of creating a collage, an image made of very different parts combined to create a whole. I think there is always a little, beautiful part to add to this collage, I don’t see any chances to stop. As said,
I’m mostly compelled to make it better because of the user’s engagement not because of competition.’
‘Fluid’ – © Sarah Jarrett
SJ – How fast is technology changing in creating apps that can offer users a better and better experience?
TAG – ‘First, all praises go to Apple. It is the leader and there are many reasons for it. The devices are amazing and we see all kind of improvements in the camera and in the processor speed coming with the next generation, things that are so important for us iPhoneographers. One side that users don’t see is the development environment and Apple is also a winner there. The tools for developing are the best; the code that they offer for interacting with the device (so called API) is also expanding further in areas as image and video. I think also that Apple is taking seriously what people are creating in image and video and they are improving these areas. All that development is of course very exciting and I think we are going to see very new cool apps coming soon. (I’m myself very tempted to develop an advanced video app)’
SJ – Do other apps influence what changes you make to the app?
TAG – ‘I would say zero. While I know I’m in a very competitive market I don’t try to follow similar apps for competing one to one or copy features from them. I think that innovation adding new things to the app not available anywhere is one of the main aspects to success. Time to time, some users require effects that you can find in other apps for many reasons I left these to the end of my list because is boring to expend time in something that is already available.’
SJ – How competitive is the market?
‘There are millions of apps out there) new ones and old improved ones. But there are also millions of users, so we always have a chance.
But there are of course many things that make difficult to sell an imaging app. One is of course that your app don’t target all these millions: if comparing with e.g. Games apps that can reach all ages and genders, imaging apps are only interesting for visual people with some artistic tendency in the field. But I don’t see the huge number of apps making any hurt here: they are just multiplying the entry points for new users. I’m very happy that there are many simple, winning apps like e.g. Instagram, that introduce users for first time to photo filters opening the way for searching for more advances apps.
Another crucial aspect is visibility: very good apps don’t get known because they are pushed to the bottom at the App Store rank (it’s rank algorithm based in download speed, so easy to manipulate has been widely critiqued). This is a problem because it requires lots of investments that indie developer have not. My hope is that the algorithm, as rumored, will get improved and apps get the rank and visibility they deserve and not just the ones that companies can buy.’
‘Patterns Of Misunderstanding’ – © Sarah Jarrett
SJ – How difficult is being an app developer?
TAG – ‘It is very difficult to not be. In the past I had to work in projects with my daily work in completely unrelated fields e.g. booking systems and I found it extremely difficult and boring. At the end, I quit. I’m now working as a freelance consult in a new project related with iPhone video processing for a very big company. Hopefully this will be extended during the next 6 months, which is an improvement of my situation. I love to develop iColorama and what you love is never difficult! ‘
SJ – What vision do you have of apps in ten years time? Where is the technology going?
TAG – ‘When I imagine the future I like to imagine myself entering in a William Gibson’s bar where the performer presents his dreams in an hologram and people watch and applaud) I think technology is advancing fast in many directions, not only in computing capability: the processors in the mobile devices will be soon as powerful as in our desktops but also in the way to interact with these system. Last week I was visiting a company that develops eye tracking user interface with tablets, it is just amazing that it works. Wearable computer as glasses and clocks are just in the next corner. But wherever development is going it is the artist’s and we developers’ duty to fusion art with technology. We have to bring art to it, and we are convinced we are going to success on it: iPhoneography is today a recognized art movement with thousand amazing artists, galleries, social forums etc.’
SJ – Anything else you would like to add?
TAG – ‘I would like to thank to you personally. I’m a big fan of your art as you know, and while I just to try to put a tool in the hands of the artists, there is nothing like inspiration and there is a lot of inspiration that your artworks bring to the community.
To the app users: there will come many new versions: harder, better, faster, stronger! Thanks for everything.’
SJ – Thank you Teresita for generously giving your time.