Brainstorming the creative potential of a certain device.
May 6, 2010 8:31 AM   Subscribe

Making the most out of an iPad for creative/business use-- help me see its true potential.

Okay, so long story short I am thinking about an iPad. I'm an illustrator and really like the idea of having a portable morgue file (probably set up through a private Flickr photoset) and eventually some form of on the go portfolio (maybe something as simple as just using my website? I haven't seen mine on an iPad to know how it works/looks--maybe you can tell me.) to share with people and network that way. I also like the idea of having portable image reference through the web. (I tend to refer to a lot of printouts and book reference) But what else might be useful with this device? Drawing seems okay, but not professional quality use which is totally okay with me. I'm sure there's more I'm not thinking of.

So for someone who'd rather use it as a business/creative device first and a media-consumption device second, how could you see an iPad being used? Even if it's not in existence yet as an app, I'm curious. I know the true limitations of this thing are dependent on what developers can make, but hey maybe a good idea will lead me to try and collaborate with someone to develop one myself. (Or spur someone else on)

Bonus question: for someone who will be living in Portland, OR and may do some business travelling/wanting to share their work on the go, would 3G make better sense than just wi-fi? And given the needs I've outlined, could I make do with the cheapest storage space or is that really a small amount of GB? I really doubt I'll be downloading music or movies on the thing. Could the cloud help me out?

posted by actionpact to Technology (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think you need a ton of storage space. Whether or not 3G will be helpful depends on where you want to use the iPad. If you're using it outdoors, on public transportation, in the library, on vacation, etc., the 3G will be a huge boon. Especially if you want to show your website/portfolio to prospective clients in their home turf, because you can't count on them all having networks that are open to you.

On the other hand, if you're mainly just looking to get online from home and the office, and there are wifi networks in both places, it's not really an issue. And AT&T sucks. Maybe not in Portland, but if you spend any time in rural areas, expect 3G coverage to be spotty at best. I'm here in Santa Fe (a state capitol!) and there is no AT&T 3G at all.

I can't suggest any uses specific to design, but note-taking is great (I recommend Evernote) and it's also a good platform for emailing. Anything you'd typically need a computer for but don't want the hassle of lugging a laptop around. You can also update your Show & Tell blog on the go with the Tumblr app.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:46 AM on May 6, 2010

I'm a writer and cartoonist, and I have an iPad, and I like my iPad a lot, but I don't foresee using it as a creative tool very often, at least until someone cobbles together a pressure-sensitive and precise stylus for it, and I'm not holding my breath. I love it for reading, games and movies.

Having said that, the thing makes pictures look darn good. I wouldn't use your website for that, though, you want something where people can just use a swiping motion to go from image to image. The built-in Photo app might be enough for that.

I guess what I'm missing here is why you'd need an on-the-go morgue file. I do almost all my drawing in my home office, and the Web is my morgue file. Do you work in traditional media or in untraditional places?

Oh, and one more thing. Drawing on the iPad is not only not really professional quality, it's also a big pain in the ass. It can be kind of a fun pain in the ass, in kind of the same way that an Etch-a-Sketch can be a fun pain in the ass, but if you're a working artist trying to turn out high-quality work, it's just going to get in your way with the current hardware.
posted by lore at 8:56 AM on May 6, 2010

And given the needs I've outlined, could I make do with the cheapest storage space or is that really a small amount of GB?

The general rule is to get as much space as you can afford and then try for a bit more.

There's an iPhoto to Flicker export plug-in, which could be a great way of displaying your art full screen on the iPad, while still leaving your Flickr site for a web portfolio/promotion.

Go for 3G if you're going to be out and about. Wifi may be in a lot of places in Portland, but Murphy's law says when you really need it to actually work, you won't have it.

Obviously, it could make a great sketch pad, with your choice of Apps.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:59 AM on May 6, 2010

Mod note: Link to site removed. You're welcome to link it on your profile page.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:07 AM on May 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks guys so far for the comments! Can't wait to hear more...

TWPL, oh good idea regarding the Tumblr! I think if I'm eyeing it as a business tool, getting the extra usability is probably the smartest. over the size (it'd be different if I were planning on just chilling on the couch with it to watch stuff only) Thankfully it's month to month and not an either/or situation so I could still use wi-fi for some months...

lore--that makes sense re: the Photo app. Something as simple as that would work well. Regarding the morgue file- currently I work with an iMac on one desk in my office and a separate studio room where I draw. I also like sketching outside and throughout the house and I make multiple cross country trips each year so I'm not always near my computer. I have two big binders of reference but sometimes flipping through them gets disorganized. When I have a project where I need to find reference of say a bicycle, I'll print out a picture to give me an idea-- this gets costly and disorganized and also wasteful. So having a morgue file I can flip through anywhere would be awesome, I think. Might be in the minority on that, but it makes sense for my current needs... i doubt I'd use the drawing abilities unless there was something I saw in real life I wanted to make note of. Certainly it'd be for more practice than professional stuff.

Brandon, good points all around. I feel like I may have to choose between more space or 3G, by which I would probably opt for 3G and just use it month-to-month as needed.
posted by actionpact at 9:15 AM on May 6, 2010

Response by poster: Sorry cortex! I didn't realize that was against the rules, thanks for taking it off for me...
posted by actionpact at 9:15 AM on May 6, 2010

Your site looks fine on my iPhone, by the way, and would presumably be the same (only bigger and clearer) on an iPad.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:25 AM on May 6, 2010

I have an iPad. For drawing/illustration, meh. I echo lore's comments.

If you are concerned about basic security, avoid using the ipad for business sensitive data. I put a lock code on it and my 9 year old daughter was able to "crack" it in two minutes (with the aid of some good guesses and lightning quick synapses). I am dismayed that there are no security apps that allow to lock down certain data sets or even have basic password protection. I'm sure app developers will eventually come up with something but right now the iPad seems a little too open for me.

That said, for photos and portability, just WOW!! They look stunning. I love they way they implemented the basic photo viewing capability. I'm toyong with some of the newer apps but out of the box, they hit it out of the park.
posted by Kskomsvold at 9:35 AM on May 6, 2010

I'm headed to lunch in about 20 minutes. I'll fire up the iPad and check out your site. Awesome illustrations btw!
posted by Kskomsvold at 9:42 AM on May 6, 2010

I have the 16g and use the cloud for all my storage. I can access all my media files on my home computer through wifi so I don't even use the ipod app anymore. The drawing apps seem very basic now (I have more fun with the music ones) but right now it is a WOW! device to pull out for show and tells (even more for me since it is only available in the US) and if perception of being bleeding edge is important then it may give you an edge with clients (I know it has helped my career already).
posted by saucysault at 9:44 AM on May 6, 2010

If it is at all possible to do so, I recommend just having one place that you have to update your images. Better to get your site looking great on a browser and/or tablet, so when it comes time for a refresh, you only have to change it in one place.

I rep visual artists, and we have to have images for our agency site, images for their site, and now images in iPhoto just so we can do iPad presentations? That's way too much damn work resizing and editing. If you get it right on your site, it will save you 3x the amount of work, AND (this is very important) when the next cool new toy comes down the road, since your site is great in a browser, you won't even have to change anything!

For this same reason it doesn't really make sense to create some kind of app for your purposes. I know many agents all over NYC who all have the same idea -"oooh I'll take this to meetings and they'll be wowed by the fancy toy" but since they all have the same idea it is going to get old in about a month. Don't expend too much energy on this device.

It is very easy to spend money on technology but VERY DIFFICULT to get better as an illustrator. Keep your priorities straight.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 10:09 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks again everyone for the comments! I want to mark them all as best answer, but they're all interesting points. Hope we hear some more! (Also thanks for letting me know my site looks- it's on the Cargo platform so I had a feeling it looked okay, but I'm glad to know.)

infinitefloatingbrains--I definitely understand and appreciate your points on the matter! I'm Even though I'm asking about it now, it will take a lot of time and thinking before I'd pick one up, for sure, and I'd want it as a tool, not a toy. Maybe having it on multiple platforms is tough, but I do that already (my site, my rep's, Flickr, etc, etc) so while I don't know how different it'd be on the iPad, it would be nice to have an easy way to show people on the go what my work is like. I'd probably make it more as a best of thing, or case studies to explain to potential clients what the projects were. Not constantly updated, but a go-to guide to what my work is like. It's less a 'ooh, look at this fancy thing and how nice it makes my images look!' and more a way to explain to people what I do and show and tell. (It's easier for me to show and describe than just talk up a project. What can I say, I'm a shy lady.) The app idea, you're right may be too far-fetched. I know very little about it, but I still like dreaming up ideas in the hope someone else might find some use in it.

And no worries! I'm constantly concerned about my level as an illustrator and literally working every day to improve my skills, so I wouldn't let this technology be a shot in the foot. But thanks for the insightful thoughts on the matter!
posted by actionpact at 10:37 AM on May 6, 2010

Site looks fantastic on iPad. FWIW.
posted by Kskomsvold at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2010

I think what you just talked about, a case study storyteller, sounds very very cool. The kind of thing that you wouldn't really show on your site, but can flip through on a device and say, this was the challenge given to me by the AD, here is how I approached it, here are some different mockups, here is the process of creating in stages, and here is the final. Just to give a client a sense of how you work, something they wouldn't be able to take away (and you might not want to show) on your site. And those type of things wouldn't be something you need to update all the time, since it is more like a static presentation. That would really be a great and novel use, compared to just having another portfolio to monitor and preen.

Nice site btw.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 11:41 AM on May 6, 2010

Kottke posted this today, might be of interest.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:25 PM on May 6, 2010

Just spent a very happy time poring over your work at your site and the idea of finger-flipping through a carefully sequenced collection, especially something like the Thirty Birds that's already a sequence, seems as likely to be inspiring to you, as it would be delicious for anyone you'd hand over your iPad to for a taste. Might be you'd get into publishing graphic-tales/iPad-apps for all ages once you have one. It's gotten me thinking…so thanks for the inspiration!
posted by dpcoffin at 7:08 PM on May 9, 2010

Hey Meg,

I'm using Evernote for my morgue file. It's great because I can add images (as well as notes, contracts, and other reference) with one click from my browser, and even from my iPhone and its camera. I've got it set up to capture everything into an Inbox folder, which I visit regularly to tag and sort.

I just ordered an iPad, and using Evernote on it to access this stuff from my drawing table is one of things I'm most excited about.
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:14 AM on May 12, 2010

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