Whether you’re a doodler, a scrapbook fan, a collage maker or just someone with a lot of pent-up artistic energy, you’ll find the perfect outlet in Mixel, a free iPad app. It offers a platform to create, share and remix ‘mixels’ – digital collages created from web images, the app’s image library and personal photos.
Mixel aims to reach a broad audience, attempting to do for art what’s been done with photography. Tools such as the iPhone’s 8-megapixel camera and apps such as Instagram have transformed the art form, making photography a more casual, fun and social experience.
Like other social networks, Mixel lets you follow users and comment on individual entries. The app, which requires that you sign in with Facebook, finds any Facebook friends you have on Mixel, recommends users worth following, and lets you invite friends from your iPad’s address book so you aren’t alone in the app.
Easy and fun process
Actually making a mixel is simple – we put together our first in just a few minutes, and while it’s not the most stunning piece of art, it was fun and easy to do.
Creating mixels with the app is similar to making a physical collage. Instead of cutting out magazine, newspaper and personal photo clippings, users choose images from their iPad camera roll or Facebook photos, Mixel’s image library and pictures from the web. Fingers replace scissors and glue – multi-touch gestures let you crop, resize, rotate, flip, duplicate and combine images on a blank canvas.
Once you’re done, you post it to the app, making it visible to other Mixel users. You can see other creations by browsing the Popular tab or by following other users, whose mixels will then appear in your customised Updates tab. The My Mixels tab shows all of your in-progress and posted mixels.
Everything is available
One of Mixel’s most interesting features is the ability to remix other people’s work. Once somebody posts a mixel, all of its image components (and personal photos used) become available on the Mixel server for reuse later.
If you find a mixel you particularly like you can select Remix, which will open up a new mixel with all of its images available for you to rearrange and recrop. If you only want to use a certain image from another person’s mixel, you can choose to do that as well.
Visual threads allow users to see who else has remixed a mixel and which mixels use a specific image. Users can also share mixels via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and email; you can also open the mixel in Safari or save it to your iPad’s camera roll. All of these social and collaborative elements make the app a great source for image and art discovery.
We found Mixel very engaging and even addictive. It creates a playful environment – many of the posted mixels are more humorous than artistic. There are, for example, several that include bearded strawberries, or puppies doing things like smoking a pipe in a library. But there are more artistically compelling pieces, too.