Everywhere you go is an opportunity to draw, whether you have a pen and paper, a computer, a tablet, or just your phone. When I first met Chris Ritter, a graphic artist and producer, I was what you might call a “traditionalist” — hopelessly devoted to my sketchbook and my pens. Chris has a knack for finding creative outlets where the untrained eye might think there aren’t any, whether using her iPad to capture scenes from her everyday life or using Gchat’s “Sketch a Message” function to make collaborative “paintings” with me when I’m bored at work (just kidding??). Before Chris, being bored in a meeting or finding myself without a book on the subway meant checking Twitter, Instagram, and answering texts. Now, when I’m bored in a meeting, I know I can use my iPhone’s Notes app to draw everyone in the meeting (also just kidding??). I talked to Chris about the pros of using your iPhone to make art, and how to get started if you’re insecure about your skill level.
First, can you tell me a little bit about your background as an artist and the different mediums you like to work in? You’ve been interested in using technology to make art since we met, back when you were a graphic designer at BuzzFeed.
I’m an artist who is constantly playing with new mediums for my practice. I recently started to incorporate oil, but tend to be more of an illustrator. I carry a sketchbook at all times to help with my compulsion to draw. At BuzzFeed, I got the opportunity to work (a.k.a. play) with an iPad Pro. I used Paper 53 with the Apple Pencil to create digital drawings for the website and personal work. That started to open me up to more mediums for drawing.
When did you first start drawing in your Notes app? What was the first drawing you ever made, and how did you figure out this was possible?
One day on the train, I realized I had failed to pack any kind of pen to draw with. I use the app all the time for actual work notes and had noticed in passing it had a drawing tool, but I hadn’t played around with it yet, so that’s what I ended up doing that particular train ride home.
How often do you use your Notes app to draw? And what particular situations compel you to open up the app?
Anytime I forget a physical drawing tool, I’ll open up the app as a way to pass the time, especially during my commute.
What do you like most about drawing in the Notes app? What do you feel it offers you that other mediums don’t?
I’m not sure it’s replacing other mediums, but it’s feeding my compulsion to draw. It’s on all my Apple devices and it’s super accessible, which I guess all the pens I keep losing or forgetting aren’t always.
Because I think your Notes-app drawings are so incredible, I’ve tried to use mine in a similar capacity, but I just can’t get mine to look as good as yours. Do you have any tips to share for people who are curious about testing this out?
Practice. It’s really more about getting some creativity out during a long day. You might’ve forgotten your sketchbook or pen, but you probably haven’t forgotten your iPhone (hopefully!), so you can still get that creativity out.
Which fingers do you use in your Notes drawings? And are there any themes in terms of subject matter?
Lol fingers!? Getting SPECIFIC. Pointer? Are people using their pinkies?? My themes for the drawings seem to fall under subway trains, florals, and clouds.
Are there any other apps that you or other artists use to make art on your phone that you think are good?
I haven’t used any other apps on my phone for drawing, but I do like using the Paper 53 app for drawing on my iPad.