I’ve just got a new iPhone 6 plus and I am wondering how I ever accomplished anything before I got it. It is literally becoming my portable brain. With 64 gb of memory, I’m sure it has more retention ability than I do, so I find myself leaning more and more on it to help me in my work.
These are the 5 apps that I find I use the most as an artist, actor & creative. Maybe they’ll help you too.
Lots of people talk about Evernote. Many people sign up for Evernote. But it only really starts to work its magic when you start to lean on it. I had an Evernote for several years and never did much with it, but in the last year, since I started my PhD, I have had a lot more to keep track of. And I was finding that I was writing things down in various notebooks, on scraps of paper, and on post-it notes and then I could never find it when I needed it.
I was also coming across loads of articles, web pages, forums that I wanted to remember because there was amazing information there. But when the time came, I couldn’t remember what they were.
So I decided that my brain was not retaining enough, so it was time I let the green elephant (the symbol for Evernote) to do it for me.
I’ve started to put absolutely everything into Evernote. I have it on my desktop, my phone and my iPad and I have trained myself that every time I want to make a note, record some thoughts, riff on an idea, etc I do it in Evernote. When I come across a webpage I like, I copy it to Evernote. I take photos of books I’m reading, or passages that I like, and store them in Evernote. I save PDF files into Evernote. Basically, everything gets saved into Evernote.
Because it has an amazing search function. I try to file things, I try to tag things. But sometimes I forget, or I’m too busy.
It doesn’t matter. Evernote still finds them. It finds anything I have ever saved and brings it to my attention in a moment.
It’s changed how I work.
There is a free version of Evernote. Try it out. But if you like it I suggest you get the paid version. It isn’t that expensive and gives you huge amounts of monthly data storage and the ability to access files off line.
I also love the Evernote Moleskin notebooks – a collaboration between two great products. See, I still love a notebook and a pen. But the Moleskin notebooks have special paper that allows you to easily photograph the page and then save it to your Evernote file. It will scan what you put in, using OCR (optical character recognition) and read your handwriting and convert it into something that is searchable.
Yes, the notebooks are expensive (about £25 in the UK) BUT they come with a voucher for 3 free months of Evernote Premium. So you could spend £100/year getting 4 great notebooks that will organise your thoughts and also get Evernote Premium (worth £48/year). I think it’s a great deal (and NO none of these are affiliate links – I’m raving about it because I think it’s a great product for messy creative brains).
Toshl is a finance app that will help you take control of where you are spending your money, an essential tool for any artist or creative. I was searching around for a long time to find an app that would help me manage my money. There are some very good ones out there, but they were expensive and VERY serious.
Then I found Toshl. They have pictures of monsters. They have silly quotes that pop up. They actually make finance fun. And they offer both a free app (with some limitations such as only allowing one monthly income) and a paid app that is quite reasonably priced.
Again, I have Toshl on my desktop, iPad and iPhone and I have taught myself to (99% of the time) pull out my phone and make an entry every time I spend money.
At the end of the month, they send you a report via email that summarises all of your spending. Really useful come tax time.
There are budgeting features, though I don’t actually use them. For me its main purpose is to track all the cups of coffee and sandwiches that fuel my freelance career and let me know in real terms how much I am spending in certain areas of my career and life each month.
Until you have a clear idea where your money is going, you will always feel trapped. Get Toshl and start to track your money flow. Did I mention it’s fun?
This one is specifically for actors, though I’m sure that every art form has their equivalent. IMDb stands for International Movie Database. It’s for checking out who is involved in a movie or TV show.
I find I always have my phone or tablet next to me when I’m watching TV or a movie and often you will see an actor or actress that you recognise, or you like, and wonder ‘who is that?’. I fire up the IMDb app on my phone and enter the title of the show and all the actors appear in front of me.
Now the fun begins.
You get to snoop into their careers. What have they done previously? How long have they been working? Why have I never heard of them before? Or why have I not heard from them in a while.
It helps me make sense of acting.
To realise that someone delivering two lines on The Good Wife has been working in TV and Film since 1990 helps put the entire business into perspective.
It also answers that question: “Whatever became of _______________? What are they doing now?” IMDb will tell you if they’re still making films or TV. There are also a trivia section and a section of quotes from the actor. Sometimes there are interesting perspectives on acting or the business of acting from their comments.
IMDb is a constant reminder that you can be a big star one day and forgotten the next. And also that you can toil away for years under the radar and suddenly get your big break. It makes it clear one of the tenets of creative entrepreneurship “no one knows” – meaning you never know if something is going to be successful, you never know if something will fail. It’s a constant risk. And that’s probably why we love it.
4. Templates for Pages iOS
This is a great app for quickly producing great looking documents or images on the fly. Templates for Pages iOS (produced by Graphic Node) costs £2.29 but contains 1340 templates for quickly producing eye-catching visual materials.
Categories include business cards, CD & DVD Covers, Books, flyers, invoices, labels, letters, newsletters etc. You get the idea – anything that you might need to produce. We all have heard about Content Marketing and Visual Branding and know why it’s important to building your creative business. This app allows you to quickly produce eye catching materials that can promote your latest project.
You do need Pages (Apple’s version of Microsoft Word) to use with this. Though if you aren’t an Apple user, check the Graphic Node website because they might have a Microsoft version.
I have certainly got my money’s worth out of this app and if you have the Pages app as well you can create these documents wherever you are and then email them, save them as PDFs, or save to your iCloud file and finish them when you get home. This allows me to start projects while I am commuting and finish them off when I get home.
Flipboard is an aggregator. It allows you to channel all of the blogs you follow, websites you read, online newspapers/magazines you regularly dip into all into one place. When you are ready, you have all of your favourite things to read (and look at) right at your finger tips.
Find an article you like? You can post it directly to your social media, email it to yourself, or ‘flip’ it into your own custom book or magazine, which you can choose to either keep private or share with the world.
Flipboard isn’t just an endless magazine, it’s also a great way to find relevant material to share with your network, or delve for inspiration for your next project. If you explore Flipboard with an open mind, it can take you into all sorts of new and interesting places that just might be the fresh idea or spark your creativity needs.
That’s it. Those are my top 5 choices. Of course I use others, but these are the ones that get used the most.
What are your favourite or most useful apps? What helps you on your path as an artist or creative?
Hey thanks for the tip on the Flipboard app. I can see how it would be useful for gathering research, inspiration, and ideas for creatives types such as us!
Steven Sparling says
Thanks Monte – nice to hear from you. Flipboard is great (and highly addictive…)
What’s your most useful app?