Paintings Archive
Rag & Koan

Friday, August 30, 2013

5 Apps That Give Me More Time To Paint

Making art is one of my favorite things to do and yet I have found over the years I do less and less of it in favor of doing things on electronic devices.  Recently I have made a determined effort to correct this.  Every now and then I realize that I used to not use computers much at all and in fact didn't even like them.  Over time though they have become more refined and useful for things I never did in the past like marketing and research.  Ultimately I would like to restrict my device usage to productive endeavors that supplement my art practices instead of distract from them.  Below are 5 apps that are helping me to accomplish this.

1/ Evernote - The Backbone

Lets get this one out of the way since everyone has heard of it.  Despite being the most well known app on the list it is in fact the least understood.  Up until a few months ago I, like many people, didn't get how to use Evernote properly.  After some reading though one thing I saw repeated a lot was you have to just dive in and start using it to store all of your note related needs.  So thats what I did and I have to say its true, once your neck deep into Evernote its search and photo-text recognition functions become very useful.

Its best function though is its integration potential and reliable sync services.  I use it most often to sync with Trello (next on the list) and to backup my ever-changing artist statements and mailing list (using Zapier).  It also syncs with some very useful iOS apps like Awesome Note and cleverList both of which I use to avoid the Apple Notes and Reminder apps.

2/ Trello - The Schedule

This little gem puts every to-do-list app, scheduling app and calendar app to shame.  It has found a way to blend these 3 services seamlessly and intuitively.  Best of all it is the only app that I can get a full overview of on one page on my tiny MacbookAir screen.  The key to using it I discovered from ZenHabits (this article) which is to make boards labeled by time.  I primarily use Today, Tomorrow, This Week, This Month and Incoming.

3/ Dragdis - Visual Research

This is the newest addition and its still in beta so you have to get an invitation or be on the wait list (I have a few invites if you want one contact me).  As with all beta apps it has some bugs that will be fixed but the basis of the app is brilliant.  Remember back in the day when you wanted to save an image you would drag it to your desktop and save them in folders?  Well we have forgotten how easy and intuitive that was since the cloud came along.  Dragdis hasn't forgotten though and that is exactly how you save images to this service.  You simply start dragging the image you want and a window slides in revealing your folders on Dragdis, you then simply drop the image where you want it.  

I started using this after researching dozens of alternatives to Pinterest which I wanted to leave because they began randomly deleting images.  As I use these kinds of services to research I couldn't have images deleted with little explanation and the social aspect of Pinterest seems very overrated.

4/ Pocket - Text Research

This is a fairly well known app but if you don't know it is simply a "read it later" service.  Its very simple and good at what it does.  I send anything here that I feel warrants longer thinking beyond the recent movie reviews or UFC analysis I peruse.  I've been using it for a few months to compile a kind of marketing guidebook from all of the art business blog articles Ive been eating up.

5/ Feedly - The Source

Finally this is the app I use to find most of the articles and images I save to the other services.  It is an RSS reader and if you don't know what that is basically it compiles new posts from blogs that I tell it to keep track of.  Google Reader was the big one but when that was shut down all of these wonderful alternatives sprung up from the ashes and after researching a bunch of them Feedly fit the bill.  It is slick, simple and intuitive, plus it now has enough users that I know it wont be shutting down anytime soon.  I have literally hundreds of blogs (mostly painters) that it sifts through and everyday I spend a bit of time looking to see if any new images/paintings catch my eye, if they do I drag it over to Dragdis and I'm done til tomorrow.

Honorable Mentions

It wouldn't be a proper "Best of" list without a few honorable mentions so here are 3 apps that didn't make the cut but still are quite useful.

6/ Flickr - The Storage

1 TERABYTE of free online storage for your photos, I put literally everything here and Ive only used maybe 10%…nuff said.

7/ Magicanrest - Breaks

This is a Mac app that simply blocks you from your computer at set intervals for a set amount of time.  I use it to pause my computer every 30 minutes for 60 seconds.  This forces me to stop, disengage and stretch my body and eyes.  Since Ive been using it I feel much more relaxed after long work sessions and it helps me stop which often leads to doing (Magicanrest just gave me a break in mid sentence while I was writing about it) other things, like painting.

8/ Buffer - The Socializer

Last but not least if you are a blogger or social network addict you know of this one and if not it simply allows you to schedule posts that get sent to various social networks simultaneously.  I've actually only started using it this week in the process of making this list so that is why it is tagged onto the end but in that short time it has shown its amazing powers.  With multiple social networks to market my art to I have found myself spending enormous amounts of time trying to be active enough to not lose followers.  Buffer lets me schedule a weeks worth of posts in an afternoon and then I can focus on just blogging and replying to comments.  I think Buffer is a bit like Evernote in that until I went all in I didn't realize how much it would help.

That should be enough and is definitely the main characters.  Let me know in the comments what apps you use and what you think of these apps.

Be well


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