November 09, 2011

Check out Mixel: Social collaging for everyone

I’m delighted to see that Khoi Vinh & Scott Ostler have launched Mixel, a free & intriguing iPad app for creating, sharing, and remixing artwork. Check it:

I had the pleasure of color-commenting a Layer Tennis match in which Khoi parried with Nicholas Felton last year. Afterwards we chatted a bit about whether & how the fun of “Photoshop tennis” could be brought to a radically wider audience. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this new project, and I got to kick the tires while swinging through New York a few weeks back.

Two bits of interesting sauce:

  • Like Instagram, Mixel lets one follow & be followed, and it can import your existing connections.
  • The app keeps all pieces separate, making it easy to find artwork, see what’s trending, etc.

Khoi’s shown remarkable restraint in crafting the editing environment. Forget about things like complex layer blending: there’s no adding text* or even simple brush strokes. That’s by design: You’re meant to communicate visually rather than verbally, and drawing skills can’t be a prerequisite. Anyone should be able to jump in & participate immediately. It’s 180 degrees from most Adobe apps (which trade simplicity for power), and I find that refreshing.

It’ll be fascinating to see who tries the app, who sticks with it, what they make, and why. Will the rough aesthetic have legs, or will the app be drawn towards refinement & complexity? How might it grow to serve particular audiences (e.g. designers wanting to brainstorm/moodboard together in small groups)? We shall see.

In any case, congrats to these guys on the launch. What do you think of Mixel?

[See also: Khoi's philosophy on the app's mission is well worth reading.]

* One can add images that include text, but you can’t whip out a text tool and start laying down captions. No lolcats for you!

Posted by John Nack at 11:32 PM on November 09, 2011
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