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10 Ways to Use Your Smartphone to Help Your Art Career

by Moshe Mikanovsky on 9/22/2011 9:41:13 AM

This article is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  An emerging artist searching his way in the art world, he loves to share what he learns.  With over 20 years of technology experience, Moshe combines his technological background and his passion for the arts with the goal of "working his dream".  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.


10 Ways to Use Your Smartphone to Help Your Art Career

The other day, I was taking the subway downtown, and as usual, I was using my iPhone to catch up on things. As we moved along the underground tunnels, I thought it would be a great idea to share with you what I was doing. So I quickly switched to a Notepad app and came up with the following 10 ways to use your smartphone to help your art career!


Yes, I love my iPhone and I use it everywhere. And one of the reasons I got it was so that I will be able to save time and use a lot of the dead-minutes during the day in a productive way. You don’t have to have an iPhone specifically. I am sure other smartphones will do just as well. But, I know that the following works with iPhone, so here we go:


1. Reference pictures. Using the built in camera of your phone, take as many reference pictures as you can. Even if the camera does not have the best resolution, it is still better than not having a camera at all. It can also supplement your sketchbook. When you are back at the studio, flip through these images and see if anything can help you with your next project.


2. To do lists. Don’t you always have ideas or things you forgot to write down and need to remember? Of course you do. We all have them. I find it useful to collect them all at the same place and my iPhone is the one tool I always have on me - I don’t need to look for pen and paper. I have several To Do lists and the most important for me are those related to my art and what I need to do next.


3. Blog ideas. Did I mention I wrote this post on the subway? Well, just the list of 10 ways to use the smartphone and then I continued elaborating on them on my computer at home. This way I used “dead-time” at the subway, where even network connection is not available. And, I did the post, or the core of it, immediately, so I didn’t forget about it and it was fresh in my mind. Even if I don’t write the blog itself, I always “carry” in my iPhone a master list of blog ideas. I update it every time a new idea pops up (so, everywhere really), and I refer to it whenever I am out of ideas.


4. Read newsletters and eBooks. Do you find yourself spending too much time on your computer, taking away from your time at the easel? Well, who said you have to read all those newsletters and eBooks on your computer, the one in your studio? Instead, you can download them directly on your smartphone and read them when you have the spare time. In line at the grocery store, waiting for the movie to start in the theatre, walking the dog (or while sitting on the bench at the park waiting for it to do its business). And many other places, including some I should probably not mention here, if you know what I mean.


5. Socialize on Social media.  All the social media sites have smartphone apps nowadays. I rarely use Facebook or Twitter sites anymore. I mainly use my iPhone apps for each. Again, I do it on my dead time mostly, earning some expensive time back to my day. And I focus on promoting my art, by linking people to my blog, and connecting with other artists.


6. Art ideas. This is taking the To-Do lists and the Reference pictures one step further. Why not dedicate some smartphone space for capturing and recording some of your art ideas? We are creative people and our brains don’t just stop creating, or at least coming up with some brilliant ideas, associations, new images, eureka moments. Don’t wait till you forget them - record them when they are still hot.


7. Catch up on emails. Again, saving time on those mundane tasks that would be otherwise taking some precious time from your creative process. Now, not everything can be replied using the Smartphone web app, but many emails could. At least you can do the reading of the emails and leave the reply to later. Have in mind that usually when writing emails on a small device, people tend to use shortcuts and short-language. If it is important for you to look professional on your correspondence, take the time to reply properly. It can be done on the smartphone, no problem. And one more tip: you know how many emails sent from the iPhone are “signed” with something like “sent from my iPhone”? It will be a good idea to change it to your own signature, with your contact info and website. Why not? And if you don’t know where to change that, let me know and I can direct you there.


8. Broadcast live from art shows. This is another things you can do live, while at the event. It can be a show you participate in, or other art shows you have interest in. You can use the Social Media sites, like Facebook for example, to instantly upload images or videos. The immediacy of the information will bring you immediate feedback and followers.


9. Make new art. Or do some sketches. Ok, I admit that I have not done this myself. But, I have seen some artists who solely create on the iPhone. You can see some great examples on the iPhone Paintings blog, and by also Googling it, you will find many examples.


10. Use new technology. For example, QR Codes, those new style barcodes that allow people to reach any website, or really, any text. Read how I have used it myself in an art show I had at a local espresso bar.


11. Record your easel location. This is an extra one I came up with while I was writing the post (not at the subway). While in an art class I took recently, we had a 3 week figure painting session. Our teacher recorded the model’s setup with his smartphone. I recorded my easel location with my own iPhone, using smudges and paint stains on the floor as a reference. The following week, using my images, I was able to stand my easel at the exact location, keeping the same angle and lighting on the model. How did they do it 10 years ago before those smartphones were invented?


In summary, I could group all these ways into 3 main categories: (a) another art tool, (b) Catch up tool, and (c) save time by utilizing dead time.


So, if you don’t yet have a smartphone, did this post convince you to get one?


How do you utilize your smartphone to help you with your art career?





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Topics: creativity | FineArtViews | inspiration | Moshe Mikanovsky 

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nik harron
You missed the most important phone tip! CARRY PHOTOS OF YOUR ARTWORK WITH YOU on your smartphone.

I cannot stress how important this has been for promoting my own art. When you meet a new person and they ask you what you do, as soon as you say you are an artist they are interested in seeing what you do. Sure, you could give them a business card with your website address but then you are relying on them to follow up.

An impromptu showing, even on such a small screen, can help you to make a connection, and possibly a sale. I've sold at least half my work this way.


Moshe Mikanovsky
You are so right Nik! (holding and shaking my head here...) :-)
I definitely did that many times, and the impact is great!
Thanks for adding it to the list here.


betty pieper
This is an amazing post. I'm still back in the mode of barely remembering to take a Tracphone with me at times! Your ideas are good...and the comment on having photos of your work with you is a great add-on! What I loved was going to the site where Eric Molinsky had a series of his sketches of people on the subways....I can barely believe what he captures with such a seemingly unwieldy tool. A tribute to talent and technology. Thank you again.

Nancy Riedell
Doh! You can given me too many reasons why I should buy a smartphone...and me who lives within commuting distance to Silicon Valley! Great article. Excellent example of multi-tasking! Thanks. I'm on my to BestBuy right now! (not)

George De Chiara
You can also use them at shows to accept credit cards.

Good idea about marking where the model and easel are. We just use tape. Some things still work well without technology:)

Georgeann Waggaman
Great ideas. I got my IPhone at the beginning of the summer and I do a lot of the things you suggest. Reading emails while walking the dog is a great time saver. I really like you suggestions to get rid of the 'sent by IPhone'. Please do a peice on how to change that. If not I'll go down to my verizon store and have the patient Esmerelda do it for me. PS I haven't tried designing pix on the phone yet but I am finishing a painting now that I 'built' on the computer, printed out and now I'm painting. I was worried it would look too much like the computer version but that's not happening. It's just allowing me to be more free, faster. Thanks

Marian Fortunati
Funny having this post come shortly after Clint's post on the danger of clicks.
However, I always find your posts interesting and filled with good ideas! I've used most of them myself... (although the easel location one was new to me... good idea)
I guess the good thing about your post is that you said you were doing it while on the subway which is a good use of that time rather than as a distraction from painting.
Be well, Moshe!

Moshe Mikanovsky
That's right George. After submitting my post to FAV's editor, I realized I completely forgot to mention the credit card / payment processing. Thanks for that.

Georgeann, I wrote the following post just for you! :-) But I am sure you won't mind if other people check it out too, right?”-make-them-work-for-you-also-on-iphone/

Thanks Marian - yes, I am also "sinning" many times in lose-thumb-syndrom, i.e. clicking too much! As long as we know where we are and what we do, we can find that balance between too much and just right. It was important for me to stress that I see my iPhone as a tool to help me get away from "too much clicking" when I am at the studio, and use other times for this.


Kathy Chin
Okay Moshe,

How did you know some of us still have "dumb phones?" Who told?

Great reasons to get into the present century...and help my business as well. Course my Moo business cards are really good too for showing my images, but both would work well together. And as long as we're at it, maybe an Ipad would be better than the smart phone....

Too many choices...not enough time...

Moshe Mikanovsky
The only thing with iPad is that the basic version does not have a 3G phone connection, only Wi-Fi. Although many of the ideas I listed does not require to be online, for some of them you will need some connection. With the iPod2 there is an option now to buy also with a 3G connection and a plan from one of your local providers. iPad is definitely an amazing tool with more space to work on. I like my iPhone especially because of its smaller size, just my preference.


Virginia Giordano
I document my work with good photos in my studio with my regular camera. But I just have not been able to form the habit of uploading or taking with mu iphone at the same time. I've been caught more than once with other artists showing me their work on phones and I'm saying, uh well go to my site when you have a moment. This weekend, I'm going to upload my photos. Thanks for this reminder.

Jo Allebach
It was just within the last 6 months my friend finally convinced me I needed a smart phone. I fought tooth and nail saying all i needed was a phone to call and receive. But now that I have it I don't know how I did it without it. Thanks for all the other great ideas. I love being able to instantly send a painting picture. It

Jo Allebach
save me time so I have more time in the studio. I can save so much end of the day email catching up by doing it during the day. And a brief text message goes a long way rather than calling back and forth trying to reach someone. The camera is great and so in the browser.

Gail Mardfin
The MOST amazing use for the Smartphone, I think, is this new thing from It's a tiny white piece of hardware that has credit card swiping capability that you plug into the Smartphone. Go to, type in your info, bank info, etc. and for FREE they set you up and within days you receive the white square thingy. Then you have to download the Square Inc. app and you are set to take credit cards!! It's only 2-3 percent per transaction and NO OTHER FEES.

Carol Frances
Sorry, but I must disagree w/some of your points. Aren't we overly connected? Overly distracted by all that comes with technology? Why, especially as artists, shouldn't we take advantage of quiet time to look, to reflect, to be away from the perpetual's just too much!

Moshe Mikanovsky
Gail, I have heard about Squareup but didn't have first hand experinece yet with it. I am not sure if it is available in Canada or only the US? It does look like a great option out there! Thanks for adding it here


Moshe Mikanovsky
Carol, these are just few things I have done, not always consistently, which helped me. The key thing is to use technology to our benefit, and not to get the technology using us. Tapping on another discussion here, one of the things that Facebook relies on is that people will get so hooked up, that they have no "choice" but using their service, therefore the technology is using all of those people. But, if we leverage the technology smartly to our benefit, then why not? Same deal with any technology, such as the Smartphones.


Moshe Mikanovsky
Happy Creative Monday everyone!

Just published a follow-up post for this one. You can read it in the following link. Thank you everyone for the great ideas and comments. If you have more ideas, please let me know :-)

4 More Ways to Use Your iPhone to Help Your Art Career


Donna Robillard
I was one of those who did good to have a tracfone until about a year ago, and then I got a smart phone. Really like it, and I wonder what I did before I had it! Am already doing most of those things you mentioned; all but two or three. Will need to take pics to have them readily available on the phone. Moshe, thanks for this article.

Thomas Ricky Garner
Power bank or power box as we call are truly important for domestic use as we travel we do not have time to charge our mobiles at that point while driving we can charge our mobiles and save precious time as well as important calls which needs to be attended bottom line power banks are real need for corporate guys and i see they are pretty cheap now a days is one such site where i ordered power Bank for 999 and iam sure there are many more websites which sell much cheaper.


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