8 iPad apps for artists

I love my iPad mini. It goes just about everywhere with me. It hasn’t replaced my laptop yet, but I have a feeling it will soon enough once I get a keyboard for it. The MacBook Pro is still useful for major image and video editing as well as long-form writing.

Some iOS/iPad apps I’m really digging these days as an artist:



1. Freshbooks Freshbooks is a great way to get paid for your work. I’ve mostly used it for graphic design work since it does a great job tracking your hours, but the way it handles invoicing is brilliant even for fine art work. Get paid instantly by credit/debit card, PayPal, Stripe, or just about anything else. The iPad app is gorgeous, too, with some fun animations here and there. Accounting can be fun and entertaining.

2. WordPress I admit I don’t use this for managing my blog much sinceI usually just write and edit on the site itself. But the WordPress iPad app helps me keep an eye on things. I know I can use Byword (see below) for publishing, but my setup is somewhat complicated since I have featured images and so forth. But the WordPress app lets me see and reply to comments, which makes it extremely helpful for me.

3. Byword I’m a fan of WriteRoom on the Mac, but it isn’t available for iOS. Byword provides a similar light-letters-on-a-dark-background distraction-free writing environment. The nice thing about Byword is it lets me edit the same files across devices via iCloud.

4. Day One Journal Another app that works across devices, I am pretty sure I will use this exclusively on the iPad once I get a keyboard for it, since I tend to do my morning journaling on the train while getting to my day job. It lets you write in Markdown. (Sort of, though it converts anything with a “#” to a hashtag instead of using that for a headline or subheadline.) It supports one picture per post, which helps you concentrate on writing.

5. Autodesk SketchBook There used to be a Pro version of this, but now you download the free app and buy extra brushes and layer capability as in-app purchases. It’s almost a Photoshop-lite, without the feature-bloat that has cursed Adobe projects for the past decade or two. I have seen artists like my friend Mandytake photos of a painting in progress and sketch out ideas before putting down any paint just to test something out. I wonder how a Jot stylus from Evernote would do when drawing in this app? I wouldn’t call it a Wacom Cintiq replacement, but it looks like it has a lot of potential in the right hands.

6. Snapseed I use this primarily on the iPhone for editing photos, but it works just as well on the iPad. I tend to shoot reference photos on the iPhone and change them up in photo apps. Snapseed and Mextures app are my go-to image editing apps on iOS. If I don’t hang up a printout in my studio space, I will look at my reference photo on the iPad while I reinterpret the image on canvas.

7. ToDoist My wife and I share to-do lists with each other with ToDoist. We actually assign each other tasks a lot. There is a handy comments feature that works somewhat like the comments field on Facebook. We may go back and forth with questions for each other about a particular item on our todo list. Huge hat-tip to Erik Fisher for introducing it to me. It took me a while to figure out how to use it well, but when I came across this story on the ToDoist blog that shows how one freelance graphic designer uses ToDoist, it all clicked as to how to use this as an artist/designer.

8. WordSwag Having worked as a graphic designer the past 15 years or so, I have mixed feelings about an app that calls itself a “graphic designer in your pocket,” but it is tremendously useful for creating sharable text-based images for your social media profiles. If you’re a designer, you can use it as a jumping-off point for your work. It’s relatively quick and easy to use.

Those are my picks. Do you have any iOS apps you love? I want to know! Sound off in the comments.