Stephen Sondheim once noted that “art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.” However, practically speaking, many artists have so many facets to their careers that life feels more chaotic than organized. Whether you’re working in new media, digital photography, video, or traditional media like oil painting, in any given week you may need to be following up on leads for potential juried exhibitions, attempting to connect with gallery owners and curators, arranging for your artwork to be photographed, writing a new draft of your artist statement, figuring out the best platform for your website, trying to stay relevant on social media, paying bills, calling the plumber, and on, and on. Oh, and it would also be nice if you could carve out time to actually make the art that makes you an artist.
You can get organized, though. And a great way to do that is to arm yourself with a mobile app that will help you prioritize your tasks, plan your day, stay focused, and keep track of what needs to get done. Here’s a short list of some exceptional mobile apps for your phone or tablet that can help you move away from chaos and toward a more ordered life. (Prices current at time of publication.)
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For Creating To-Do Lists: Todoist
One of the best ways to start organizing your life is to create a to-do list. You can grab a piece of paper and write down your tasks and chores, but a mobile app can really help you plan and prioritize. You can use an app to set a reminder for a task or an event, and you can view your list on several different devices. You’re also far less likely to lose that list since many mobile to-do apps allow you to save and store it in the cloud.
A versatile and easy-to-use mobile app, Todoist has a clean, simple, straightforward design that can be customized to your needs. Here’s how it works: You create projects and populate them with various tasks (and subtasks as well, if you like). You then set schedules for those tasks or organize them into sections. If you’re looking for examples of how to get set up, the app comes with a host of templates to download, from project trackers to event planners. And even the help guide is easy to use. Plus, Todoist includes collaborating tools, so you can connect and work with others—say, the staff of the gallery when you’re planning your next exhibition.
Like most apps, Todoist has a few different versions: There’s a free one, which is quite good, plus two paid versions—Pro ($4 a month if billed monthly, or $36 annually) and Business version ($6 a month if billed monthly, or $5 annually). Check out the plans here.
The mobile app is compatible with iOS (for both iPhones and iPads) and Android devices. You can also launch Todoist from your dock or taskbar on your Windows 10, macOS or Linux computers. There are even other, similar apps designed for Apple and Android watches, yet another format to help you stay organized. For more, go to https://todoist.com/.
For Notetaking: Evernote
No matter what kind of project you’re working on, taking notes can help you stay on track. And downloading a powerful and flexible mobile app like Evernote is a great way to do it.
Here are just a few of the features that make Evernote so valuable: Its Web Clipper feature lets you save web pages as you browse (without the ads, if you like) and then mark them up with arrows, highlights, and text to make them more useful. Its Rich Notes feature lets you add and capture images or record audio (all from your mobile device) and add them to your text, and you can do so even when working offline. Evernote even has a document-scanning feature, to back up your paper documents to all your devices. All in all, it’s a very versatile app with lots of functionality. Some may find there’s a learning curve as they get to know the app. However, the more you use it, the more the various features make sense.
Evernote has a Basic free version of the app, which lets you sync two devices, has a 25 MB limit for note sizes and a 60 MB limit for monthly uploads, and includes some fundamental features. For $7.99 a month, Evernote’s Premium plan gives you everything in the Basic plan, plus you can sync an unlimited number of devices, access notes offline, annotate PDFs, and more; you also get a 200 MB limit per note and have 10 GB of storage per month for uploads. Last, there’s Evernote’s Business plan, which costs $14.99 per month, offers all that’s in the Premium plan, plus the ability for users to work together in shared spaces and many other collaborative tools. You also get a 20 GB monthly upload limit. You can compare plans here. The Evernote site also has a very nice support section here.
Evernote’s mobile app is compatible with iOS (for both iPhones and iPads) and Android devices. You can log into any web browser to access your notes in Evernote. Plus, there are additional computer-based desktop apps for Windows 10 and macOS platforms. For more, go to https://evernote.com/.
For Storing and Sharing Large Files: Dropbox
If there’s one type of mobile app almost every type of artist needs—and not just visual artists, but also those involved in music, movies, video, and any type of multimedia—it’s an easy-to-use online storage app that allows you to grant access to others while only allowing them to download specific files on that cloud drive. That’s the essence of Dropbox, which lets your contacts download files of your work quickly and easily (with your permission, of course).
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For those not yet familiar with the ubiquitous service, Dropbox is what’s called an online file-syncing and storage service. What this allows you to do, among other things, is send a link to someone who can click on it and get access to just the particular files you specify. That beats sending them enormous files via email, which may not even be delivered. Dropbox includes a wide array of other features that you may find valuable, but its core capability is what makes it a great app.
The Dropbox app is available for iOS and Android devices. You can also download computer-based desktop apps available for Windows and macOS platforms. You can also use it via a web browser.
Dropbox also has several plans. The basic free plan offers 2 GB of storage for up to three devices. The two cheapest paid plans are the Plus plan (provides 1 user with 2 TBs of storage for $11.99 a month billed monthly or $9.99 a month billed yearly) and the Family plan (provides up to 6 users with 2 TBs of shared storage for $19.99 a month billed monthly or $16.99 a month billed yearly). The Professional plan is pricey ($24.99 a month), but it gives you 3 TBs of encrypted storage on as many devices as you need. There are other business tiers as well, but they’re more for teams. Find more on plans here. For more general information on Dropbox, go to: https://www.dropbox.com.
For Visualizing Workflow: Trello
What most artists will love about Trello is that it’s an appealingly visual app that’s quite fun to use. Trello is what’s known as a Kanban app (kanban is the Japanese word for “visual signal”). It uses “boards,” which are a type of project management tool designed to help visualize work, limit work-in-progress and maximize efficiency (or flow). Kanban boards can be very nice to use for to-do lists or presentations, or when you’re collaborating others in the fine-art world.
You can use Trello to divide up tasks and workflows so that everything gets done efficiently. To get ready for, say, a gallery exhibition, you might choose a popular type of Trello template called “To Do, Doing, and Done.” This gives you, in effect, a large area (or board) divided into three columns (labeled “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done”) and a bunch of sticky notes. You label tasks on the sticky notes and place all the tasks in the To Do column. Next, you take on each task yourself (if you’re working alone) or, if you’re working with others, assign tasks to everyone involved. As each task is being worked on, you simply move it (in the app) from the “To Do” column into the “Doing” column, and then into the “Done” column when it’s completed.
These boards can be more complex than that, but that’s the basic idea. If you’re interested, spend some time looking at the Trello site or the templates, which should help you visualize how to use this app.
Trello offers a free version of the app, which allows you to create up to 10 boards. If you want more features, such as the ability to create an unlimited number of boards, you can upgrade to the Business Class plan ($12.50 a month, billed monthly, or $120 annually). You can download mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. There are also additional, similar apps for your computer desktop for macOS and Windows platforms. And Trello is accessible through several web browsers, including Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. For more, go to https://trello.com/home.