I have a friend who is all about art. When she talks about any subject dealing with art she borders on pretentiousness as she slings about the names of different artists (living or dead), the people she’s met, her near-fame, and so on. I think she does it, in part at least, as a personal joke. She’s not ostentatious otherwise (else she wouldn’t be my friend), and she is an excellent artist in her own right.
My knowledge of art and the artists behind the many different kinds of media is abysmal. I had a few art classes in college, but I barely remember any of the styles or the masters who worked in them. My friend knows of my lacking in this area and makes it a point to be extra dollop of pretension whenever the conversation turns to art.
She’s a sweetheart.
Still, I would like to know more about art in general, and the best way to do that is to talk to others and see what they like and why. Unfortunately I don’t hang in circles where people spend a fair amount to collect art, and even if I did I wouldn’t know what to ask beyond, “What made you buy this piece?”
Once again, my iPad has come to my rescue. There’s a new application that fills my quest for more artistic knowledge perfectly, it’s only available for the iPad and it is free!
artCircles, from Art.com, pulls together a gallery’s worth of art and displays them as different collections depending on the circles you select. Currently there are four circles: Colors, Curators, Words, and Super-Zoom Textures. Select one of the aforementioned circles on the left, pick an item in that circle, and a corresponding collection of art in the circle on the right will match up. Tap and you can view the collection, either as an auto-play slide show or you can swipe though it at your leisure.
So, what kind of art are we talking about? Pictorial art; photos, paintings, etchings, graphic art, comic book art, if it’s a picture. then it’s covered. Works from the traditional masters can be found along side those of comic illustrators. Photos from National Geographic professionals share space with works from Ansel Adams and images from Hubble Space Telescope. That’s what I enjoy about artCircles, you a liable to find the oddest things, but all of it is enjoyable.
There is, however, and ulterior motive for the existence of artCircles. The app is a mobile gallery in every sense of the word, meaning you can do more than just admire the pretty pictures. Almost hidden on the bottom of most screens are several icons.
If you like the currently displayed item you can press the heart icon and the item will be added to your “Liked” collection, which you can display in the Curator Circle. It’s interesting to see just how eclectic your taste in art is.
You can also send your favorites to others via email. The app will auto-compose a note and let you select from your many email accounts. The default note is pretty much an ad for Art.com. Not a bad thing in its own right, but you might want to say something a bit more personal. Luckily you can change the content of the note if you’d like before sending it. I count that as a good thing.
I don’t think there’s an app in existence today on any iOS device that doesn’t have the ubiquitous Facebook icon. artCircles is no different. If you have and use a Facebook account then you can alert others to what you’ve found in artCircles. You’ll have to supply your account info, but once done you can post away to your hearts content.
What I’m most interested in is the shopping cart icon. You can buy any art you see in artCircles. You have all sorts of options for how you want the finished print to look; framed, matted, and in various sizes. What I like about this is that you can take a photo of the wall where you intend to hang your possible purchase and the app will superimpose your selected art on your virtual wall so you can get an idea of how it will look. Smart and very cool!
When I focus on a single item in this column I do so because there is something atypical about it that demands more than the few paragraphs I normally give to the freebies I find weekly. While the individual parts that make up artCircles are fairly pedestrian, they come together to make the experience of using the app enjoyable. The app makes good use of the iPad’s features which elevates it to more than just a digitized art book, and that’s what separates the so-so apps from the exceptional.
Grab artCircles and see what I mean. I think it’s one you’ll want to keep.
That’s a wrap for this week. More free art related apps below with direct links.