The days of artists conspicuously sketching and painting on drawing pads or at an easel may be over. All the tools that one needs are available in a palm-sized iPhone; passersby don’t know if the person is text messaging or creating a digital masterpiece.
Artist Jorge Colombo, who used the Brushes app to create the first iPhone-illustrated cover for The New Yorker’s June 1 issue has done it again with the Manhattan skyline at night on its November 16 cover. Although Colombo arguably can be called “the father of iPhone art,” he has owned an iPhone only since February 2009 and started “finger painting” using the Brushes app after that. Thanks to Colombo and a few other pioneers, what just was a cool Internet Café “parlor trick” to amuse geeky friends a few months ago has become a serious art medium. This week’s Huffington Post is even featuring iPhone drawings submitted by readers. The variety of styles, nuances of colors, level of detail and sophistication are amazing to behold.
Probably even Colombo couldn’t have predicted his meteoric rise to iPhone art fame. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, Colombo came to the United States in 1989 and has worked as a photographer, illustrator and graphic designer. He was the art director of Chicago’s NewCity, San Francisco magazine and Jungle Media in New York City, and has published three books in Portugal. His illustrations have appeared in The New Yorker for more than a decade.
Since February, Colombo has drawn all of his paintings with his finger, which evokes a dreamy painterly quality that runs counter to the hard-edged exactness of digital technology. The backlit screen of the iPhone has made it possible for him to draw in dark surroundings, and most of Colombo’s published iPhone drawings feature night scenes. What’s more, it has given him and other iPhone artists the spontaneity to take advantage of the moment without the need to haul around pens and pads and all the accoutrements artists tend to need.