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Chris Silverman – #notesArt – April

Where you write your shoppinglist, or something to remember for later, Chris Silverman makes art. This whole exhibition is made in his iPhone XS’s notes app, with his finger. Asking Chris to join our gallery for an exhibition was a no-brainer, and we are so happy he said yes!

Chris Silverman – #notesArt

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Art from notes

The raw lines hints to a finger touching the screen of a phone. The small details hints of creativity and a sense of knowledge.

With all the creative apps you can find in the app-store, what made you choose the built in notes-app to create your work?

At the time I started doing this, I wasn’t thinking about a daily art project. It was more of a random impulse: I knew the Notes app had some rudimentary drawing tools, so I was curious to see how far I could push them. 

The thing about Notes is that it’s easy and doesn’t have a lot of features that I needed to learn. Professional drawing tools, even the simpler ones, typically have a wide variety of capabilities, like filters, layers, extensive brush types, etc. I use those tools also, so the extra capabilities can be very useful, but they also get in the way sometimes. There’s very little about Notes that gets in the way, because there’s very little to get in the way to begin with. 

I grew up using MacPaint, which was sort of the prototypical digital art tool. Its simplicity was what made that app so iconic. I see Notes as kind of the iPhone heir to MacPaint.

Have you ever considered an iPad and an Apple pencil instead of using your finger and iPhone? Due to screen size and precision?

I have an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil, and I’d say it’s the best drawing tablet I’ve ever used. For large-scale digital drawing, I can’t imagine using anything else.

Even if/when iPhones begin supporting the Apple Pencil, though, I’ll still use my finger for Notes work, since at this point, I’m more comfortable with that than a stylus. I think I’ll always draw Notes art on the phone rather than a tablet, specifically because of the smaller canvas and less precise way of working. With great canvas size come great expectations—mine, primarily—and I don’t think I could finish one of these sketches in a few hours if I had that much space to play with.

Part of what makes Notes art fun is that I can pick an idea, focus on it, and get to a point that feels finished in a reasonable amount of time. If I had a large canvas and no real limit on the amount of detail I could pack in, I don’t know if I’d ever get anything done.

They say limitations creates creativity, what’s the best tool in the notes-app that’s also the most limited?

Tough question, since at first glance, all the Notes drawing tools are limited in the exact same ways. But I think what you’re describing would have to be the pencil tool. 

I love the pencil. I wish I had more chances to use it. Apple took the time to give it this thick, realistic texture, and on the few occasions I’ve drawn with it, I really liked how that looked.

What makes the pencil tool limited is that, unlike the more generic pen tool, the texture makes it less practical for general-purpose drawing. It’s kind of like the difference between a real pen and a crayon: if you need that crayon effect, there’s nothing like it, but the line isn’t as clean and precise as a pen.

So I primarily use the pen, since for 99% of the things I want to draw, it’s the best tool for the job. The pencil is more of a special-purpose thing for a narrow range of use cases.

The selection you made for this exhibition is just a small part of this project of yours. And not all, but many, of these sketches has some kind of message (at least in my eyes. And all these are made daily, as you do one each day. Where do you get your inspiration from?

That’s hard to say. Sometimes it’s from scrolling through Instagram or something, but mostly I start with something I just want to draw (like traffic lights). A lot of times, the most interesting additions come at the end, as a resort of a spur-of-the-moment decision. “What if this traffic light was actually an apartment building?” etc.

A sense of humor

#notesArt contains motifs with a wide verity of emotions, from melancholic to more curious and happy expressions.

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