The new tools of the trade for artists and musicians on iOS

The new tools of the trade for artists and musicians on iOS

San Francisco : CA : USA | Jan 25, 2012 at 5:00 PM PST
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Nomad Brush

Walking through the exhibit floor of Macworld | iWorld tomorrow, a convention attendee may notice the abundant number of products and Tech Talk conferences geared toward users who create. The line between being technically inclined and artistically inclined is blurring, and this year’s Macworld will appeal to those who are equally left-brained and right-brained.

Consumers may expect robust creative software and hardware for their desktops and laptops, but more and more of these products are finding their ways onto iOS devices. Given the portability of the iPhone and the iPad, this means that artists and musicians are able to create on the go.

Two new products being shown at Macworld this week exemplify the fresh new approach to iOS accessories. They both aim to expand the usages of our devices beyond their physical frame, allowing for new ways to input our ideas onto the iOS canvas.

First, let’s take a look at the GuitarJack, a device that allows you to plug your guitar straight into the iPhone or iPad. Typically, musicians have to bring their gear to the recording studio. With the GuitarJack, musicians will be bringing the recording studio to their gear.

Doug Wright, president of Sonoma Wire Works, explained how the idea of a guitar input device on the iPhone came about. The company had previously developed desktop recording software for guitarists and drummers. Then came FourTrack, an app for iOS that allows users to record multi-track creations on the fly, much like the old-school 4-track cassette recorders familiar to many bedroom musicians.

“The hardware naturally came about afterwards. Our users began asked, ‘How do I get good sound into this app?’ The GuitarJack was the solution for that.,” Wright said.

Wright pointed to the portability of the iOS as a creative advantage. “Usually you are stuck at home in your makeshift studio,” he said. “You’re at home with your monitors and laptop, because you don’t have enough money for studio time, and you’re stuck needing a power outlet to do anything. With [the GuitarJack], you can be on your road trip, in a desert or in a forest -- whatever locale you need to be in to be the most creative. You can capture the inspiration right then and there.”

For people more interested in the visual arts, there is the Nomad Brush, a stylus for the iPad that emulates traditional paint brushes by incorporating synthetic and natural fibers into its bristled tip. The result is a stylus that feels like you’re painting with analog materials.

Nomad Brush’s CEO Don Lee, who will be hosting the “SpeedSketch Portrait Siri-es” Tech Talk at Macworld on Saturday morning, described his experience in developing his buzz-catching product. “I found [the iPad] to be a great digital sketchbook and canvas for painting. However, I found drawing with my finger to be awkward and unnatural,” Lee said. He tried other styluses on the market, but none of them reproduced the act of painting adequately enough. Thus, Lee concluded that “the paintbrush seemed to be a natural evolution for a stylus.”

Nomad Brush's motto echoes Wright's thoughts on the portability of iOS devices, imploring users to "Paint Anywhere."

A big reason why the GuitarJack and the Nomad Brush are capturing the imagination of artists and musicians is that its creators were familiar with the respective art forms beforehand. Wright is a experienced guitarist who has played in many San Francisco bands, while Lee is a lifelong painter who holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts.

A big focus of this year’s Macworld is how Mac products are integral to the creative process of many people. Why are so many creative types attracted to Apple and iOS devices? Don Lee offered his theory: “Creative minds tend to gravitate towards devices and products that not only work well, but are also beautiful objects. Apple and IOS Products are designed very thoughtfully with a very intuitive interface.” Makes sense that artists would like to work on devices that are veritable pieces of art in and of themselves.

Back in the summer of 2003, the Macworld convention was subtitled the “CreativePro Conference & Expo.” With the slew of artist-friendly accessories showing at the exhibit this year, Macworld 2012 will live up to its one-time moniker.

For more of Allvoices' coverage of Macworld | iWorld 2012, check out

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The GuitarJack Model 2.
Jackson Chan is based in San Francisco, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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