Renowned illustrator Kyle T. Webster has worked for most major publications in the United States, and his artwork has appeared on beer bottles, music posters, billboards, apparel, buildings, banners, doughnut boxes, magnets and buttons, menu boards, wine bottles and wine glasses, people's skin, book covers, and even in the form of a giant corn maze.
A seemingly endless client list includes The New Yorker, TIME, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, ESPN, Scholastic, IDEO, The Wall Street Journal, UTNE, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and The Guardian.
Macworld caught up with Kyle to find out the story behind his first iPhone application. Available from the Apple iTunes App Store, White Lines is already selling well and attracting rave reviews.
Q. As a successful illustrator why turn your attention to iPhone apps?
I really wanted to start making my own products and then offering them to the world, rather than always waiting for others to ask me to make something. I am trying to change my business model from an on-demand service to something more proactive. iPhone apps are the perfect place for creative people to try out something new and release it to a huge audience, without the usual expense involved in such an endeavour.
Q. Games are the most popular section of the iTunes App Store, but is it a scary thought having to compete with so many games?
After spending a lot of time researching the market, I realised that it is not as scary as I initially thought it might be. While it is true that there are many thousands of games for sale, it is also true that there are many millions of players all looking for something different. So, a unique game that is well made can still make waves once people start telling their friends, blogging, tweeting, and so on. An independent developer like myself definitely has a greater challenge when it comes to hype and exposure, but I do think the system is quite democratic and the cream will rise, even if it takes a bit more time.
Q. How do you think it differs from other games?
The straightforward simplicity and minimalist graphic design of the game set White Lines apart. As one reviewer put it, "it takes five seconds to learn and ten seconds to get sucked in." I want any person, whether or not they have ever picked up an iPhone or iPod Touch in their lives, to be able to learn the game in a matter of seconds and enjoy the challenge. There are no words in the game so that it can be enjoyed by anybody from anywhere. I think this kind of uncomplicated approach with a unique twist on the typical memory game, along with the very 'Zen' look and feel, smooth game play, and quiet music will help it stand out in the crowd.
Q. Has it been a labour of love or have you had help?
The game took ten months to develop because of my busy illustration schedule. I spent eight months working on perfecting the visual style of the game and the last two months were spent finishing all of the code and fine-tuning the game play with the greatly needed help of the fantastic development team at Peer Assembly (peerassembly.com).
Q. Do you see the iPad as being a potential portfolio for illustrators?
Absolutely. In fact, I am preparing a free downloadable portfolio for iPhone and iPad right now and Peer Assembly will probably help me get it ready for the App Store by this Summer.
Q. Finally, any plans for future apps?
Yes, I have two other game ideas in development. I will tell you in advance that they are not memory games - they are action games with plenty of humour. I enjoy mixing it up! But, because I am not a big game company, I have to wait to break even on White Lines before I finish the other games! Though the game has only been out for a week, the current sales trends show that I should be in the black within a month, so wish me luck!
We are completing an updated version of White Lines right now that includes OpenFeint so players all around the world can compare scores.
(Available from the Apple iTunes App Store, White Lines costs 59p and requires the iPhone 3.0 Software Update.)