Don’t panic, it isn’t the outer space attack of the giant fluffy kittehs riding knitted tanks (although I’m sure that fateful day is nigh). No, it is a blog post about cool creative and cultural apps and as I made this delightfully dystopian collage with one of the apps featured, I thought I’d crowbar my cat into this blog post.
I’ve been chatting about this with a few people recently, both on line and in real life and I have been surprised how many people either don’t have any apps that they’d describe as creative or cultural, or just don’t know where to find them. I am pretty much glued to my iphone, so I like discovering fun new apps, and the best way to do that is recommendation. I have to give a huge thank you and shout out to Adam Wood (via the lovely Amy Smith) who pointed me in the right direction.
These are my favourites and a few new ones I’ve been playing with under the guise of “very serious research” for this post. I’ve kept my usual loose definition of creative and cultural as I believe that if you can play with it, use your imagination, create something or discover some cultural gems, then it qualifies as creative enough for my list. I’ve split it into art forms to give some vague sense of order, but there are many cross-overs. This list is by no-means exhaustive, I feel like I have barely brushed the surface of the touchscreen, so please comment if you have any other suggestions for everyone to try!
Artsy (available on IOS) – A super stylish app which you can use to explore the world of visual arts. Browse by subject matter, medium or style. You can favourite the works you love, learn about them, find prices and there are options to contact the gallery too if you’re a serious buyer. Due to my current budget, or lack thereof, I mostly just pretend I’m an art collector and consider what great works I’ll invest in for my imaginary penthouse apartment in the city. This is quite similar to when I was a child and I would peruse the Argos catalogue for furniture I might buy when I grow up, only this fantasy has a bit more class and a lot more art. There is affordable art featured too, so it isn’t all as far-fetched as my daydreams. I like this app as it is easy to use, features commercial art as well as lots of great gallery and museum collections and it has the potential to bring art to a whole new audience (starting with iphone users!). Here’s an interesting article from The Guardian about how the app was made.
Bazaart (available on IOS) – A super fun collage app, upload your own photos, or select from backgrounds and let your imagination run wild. Really easy to use so you could make some awesome artworks, or you can put a giant kitty on a knitted space tank.
Paper53 (available on ipad) – A lovely looking app which you can use to sketch, draw, outline and colour and create something beautiful. Thanks to Kaye Sedgwick, the genius illustrator responsible for my blog design, for this suggestion. I don’t have an ipad (yet!) so have not tried this, but the different notepads and sketchbooks and creations I’ve seen are stunning!
Snapguide (available on IOS) – This app features some brilliant how-tos, cocktail recipes, craft projects and life-hacks. I’ve put this under crafts as that is what I have mostly used it for, but there are so many categories – photography, music, beauty, food and drink. If you don’t think cocktails can be creative, then you’ve never tasted one of mine! You can browse by section or popularity, follow people or search for specific things. It is great if you have something that you want to repurpose but need ideas, inspiration or detailed instructions. For example, I had an old nightshirt that looked terrible on but had a cutesy vintage graphic that I loved. So I looked for t-shirt projects and found this no-sew cushion guide. If you are already a crafty DIYer, then you can add your own how-to guides and help make the world a prettier and resourceful place.
IMDB (available on IOS, Android, Windows and Kindle Fire) – Let’s just say this app (and website) has ended many circular arguments and inspired me to find new films to watch. I can’t be the only one who gets into endless debates with family and friends about what else that actress has been in, or who sees a quirky film and would like to track down more of that director’s fine work or has fallen hopelessly in love with an actor and needs to see all of their films pronto (and maybe a few pictures and some pertinent biographical details).
Vine (available on IOS, Android and Windows) – I’m not a huge fan of making videos, aside from the occasional insta-vid of my cat, this is one I need to master. However it is safe to say that Vine has changed the way we capture and promote arts events, I love little loops of performances, snippets of drawings and work in progress, a glimpse of a 3-D artwork. A few seconds of something you can see or hear is more effective than trying to explain an experience. No surprise that everyone I spoke to loves Vine!
Instagram (available on IOS and Android) – Instagram is my favourite place to share photos. Make it creative by trying one of the many Instagram challenges about. Like all social media, it is only as good as the people you follow. Here are five of my favourite instagrammers, and you can follow me @CassyFry
Snapseed (available on IOS and Android) – This is my favourite tool for editing photos. I mostly just crop and tune the image. I don’t go in for radical editing, just refining and reframing. This app does the job and is quite easy to use.
Diptic (available on IOS, Android and Windows) – Lots of people ask me which app I use to put two, three or four photos into one square frame. This is it!
Impossible Project (available on IOS) – This one is a bit niche, as it is a community of impossible photographers. The Impossible Project refurb vintage Polaroid cameras and make instant film for them (I love Polaroids). The app is a place for Impossible customers, who are pretty much all amazing photographers working with Polaroid film, to share their impossibly beautiiful works. Thanks to Pete Fry, the bestest arts photographer in the biz, for this suggestion.
Party Party (available on IOS) – Everyone loves a photobooth or a GIF and this fabulous app from A Beautiful Mess combines the two! Super fun. Anything that makes you playful will spark your creativity, although I must admit the most imaginative I’ve got with capturing a Party Party moment so far, was with our Victorious Festival drinkies! There will be many more imaginative Party Party moments to come though.
Soundcloud (available IOS and Android) – The Soundcloud app is my favourite place to find new music and spoken word and I often listen on the website too. Sign up, follow your favourite artists, search for music by genre hashtag, share your favourite songs, comment on them at a specific time (at 0m22sec you might say “beautiful opening” or at 2m32sec you can add “this solo is totally awesome” or you might just type along with the lyrics). I don’t tend to comment, but I’m usually entertained by those who do. A quick shout out to my current Soundcloud faves – The Thing Invisible, Casual Resident and Dominic Eulberg.
YouTube (availabIe on IOS, Android, Games Consoles, Cable & pretty much everything that has a screen and exists) – I decided to put this under music, not just to be controversial, but because that is where the value of YouTube lies for me personally. I know there are sometimes problems with what music is available and what isn’t, but its use goes beyond the official music video. I love watching/listening to live performances, not the dodgy filmed-on-phone-at-gigs ones, but beautifully produced ones like this from Stuart O’Connor and ones that interact with fans like Kawehi performing covers chosen by Kickstarter supporters and Nikki Loy’s 52 songs in 52 weeks challenge.
Digital Theatre (available on IOS and online) – Nevermind Netflix, why not watch some top-notch theatre performances? Cinema screenings of some of the finest dramatic work has brought theatre out of the cities and to the people and now we can watch brilliant British theatre on the small screen too. Choose from a fine selection of classic drama, new writing, musicals like Into the Woods or productions from Shakespeare’s Globe or the Royal Opera House. It’s free and I think it is amazing.
Evernote (available on IOS, Android and Windows) – I still don’t think an app could replace my notepad and pencil. I love writing on paper and I’ll never stop, mostly as it doesn’t require a battery or wifi, but I have to admit the pile of 16 scribble-full notebooks that contain my creative writing make me shudder. There could be a work of genius in there, but it will take some organising and editing to sort that out. Most of the note apps I have tried just haven’t felt free-flowing enough to capture my creative thoughts and general idea noise, but on Evernote I can type, add voice recordings and photos to the same note. I can also format text so posts can be copied straight over. There is a free version and a premium version, but it’s worth knowing that if you’re an O2 customer then you can have the extras free for a year.
That’s it for now… I have a feeling there could be a follow-up to this post in the future. After all, the app world moves pretty fast. I’m aware a lot of these are IOS apps too, mostly because I am an Apple lover (both the iphone and the fruit). If you know of any other great creative apps available on Android, do let us all know about them! In the meantime, have fun crafting, collage-ing, watching theatre, discovering new music, pretending to be an art dealer and Party Party’ing!