Sep 162010

Net artists never die, they just find new networks. The latest platforms for digital art? iPhones and iPads, not to mention Google headquarters.

Could the iPad be the new canvas for artists? 400,000 downloads for a single artwork say “Yes, it is.”


“It’s like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment,” said Scott Snibbe, an interactive artist based in San Francisco. “I had literally given up on screen-based art work.”

For years, Mr. Snibbe, 41, had been trying to figure out how to better display his computer art programs, which largely consist of abstract lines and forms designed to evoke a “blissful” feeling from users manipulating the ever-shifting patterns. In the late 1990s, he even did a series of drawings of a handheld device similar to the iPad that he wished existed so that his artwork could be freed from the desk-bound computer monitor.

By 2002, he had grown so frustrated with the available technology that he stopped making screen-based work altogether.

“It wasn’t seen by that many people,” Mr. Snibbe said, “and then there was the problem that it made no money. There was no way to sell it.”

But the advent of mobile devices with touch screens and tilt sensors changed all that. Beginning last January, Mr. Snibbe dusted off some of his old code and got to work. He has since released three mobile applications — Bubble Harp, Antograph and Gravilux — and has become one of the first artists to make it big in the iTunes app store. All told, his three apps have been downloaded over 400,000 times.

As Snibbe reports in an essay on his own blog entitled Art Wants To Be Ninety-nine Cents,

As I write this, Gravilux is the number one Free iPad App on the iTunes Store. It’s ahead of The Weather Channel, ABC Player, and Netflix.

Apple’s App Store approval process may have its speed bumps, but compared to breaking into the world of art galleries it’s more like the Artistic Superhighway.