Where did you get the idea to take iconic paintings and make them interactive in this way?
Since the days I was a student at the Academy of Fine Art in Milan, I always tried to convey art with new .... and different languages, more involving, simple and accessible. So, during an afternoon in a bookshop flicking through children books in search of new ideas I had this intuition: what if the images were animated? What if children could play with famous paintings by interacting with them according to their fantasy? That would greatly stimulate a creative process. Perhaps afterwards children would be more curious about art.
This is a very unique concept for an app, what made you believe that it would be a success?
When I see a child intrigued and concentrated in creating fantastic images with PlayART: I take that to be a success. When we grab the attention of primary school children for more than two hours teaching the art of Monet and Van Gogh with PlayART: that’s a success.
When we can create aesthetically beautiful pictures easily and with creative freedom, we feel content. Even more so when the same images also tell something about art history.
In conclusion I think that PlayART’s success depends on these factors: it stimulates creativity even in those who have no familiarity with drawing, painting or graphics. Anyone can create a beautiful image with artistic value.
How did you settle on which artists to include within the app?
The artists were chosen according to their styles: I wanted to offer a panorama of features as wide as possible to further stimulate creativity. Consideration was given to the taste of a transversal target age: as a matter of fact moms like Cézanne's still lifes, dads like Van Gogh's sunflowers. Monet's waterlilies appeal to almost anyone, while Klee and Rousseau are the children's favourites. Finally, the fact that they are very famous painters has helped from a marketing point of view, but the most important aspect is that parents are generally familiar with the artists' works and in this way they can share share and enrich children's experience.
What do you think makes the iPad such a great educational tool?
I hope it happens as soon as possible to see the iPad used in more schools! To the digital natives the ipad, tablets in general, are the natural evolution from notebooks and books. Teachers should collaborate with publishers in order to implement these new educational tools, rather than hinder, to actively partecipate in the process of change.
You have marketed PlayART as a children’s app, but do you think the appeal of the app extends beyond the younger generation?
Yes I do. We have chosen a design whose look appeals to children and grown-ups alike: it’s closer to children, but serious enough for parents and older generations to enjoy it, too.
Did have any issues in terms of licensing or copyright when it came to being able to use such famous works in an app?
Yes, we did. We chose artists which are in the public domain. The foundations holding copyrights for more contemporary artists such as Picasso, Mirò and Mondrian have not been favourable, but we are working on it.
Have you seen any creations from the app that you’ve been particularly impressed with?
PlayART’s “paintings” made with Monet can easily make an impression, allow me the pun. I particularly remember the painting made by a little girl in the primary school where we first tested PlayART. The image tried to represent a room with elements from Van Gogh: there was a bed, a chair and a beautiful vase of flowers. There was harmony an attention to detail in the composition. I was impressed with that. And I think that Van Gogh would have been, too.
You must be thrilled with the feedback you’ve received?
I am. Here’s is a customer review left on the App Store that makes me very happy:
“We love it!
Downloaded this for my 6 year old, and I have to say that I'm not one to have much interest in apps for kids, but as a 30 yr old woman I loved this! So much fun to create mini masterpieces taking singular elements from the work of artists. The videos are a plus, but the real draw for us has been being able to manipulate these elements to make our own creations. Would be perfect alongside a homeschool art curriculum or for the classroom or library. Great idea for an app. If I have a suggestion it would be to add more artists later on, either an in-app purchase or as an update.”
Thank you "it_was_me"
Are there any plans in place to update the app further in the future?
We have just release PlayARt Museum, a free app which wants to be Tapook’s homage to the children across the world, who have shared with us their paintings made with PlayART. We will shortly release a PlayART formula based on Christmas. After that there will be PlayART collection with in-app purchases and new artists such as Modigliani, Hokusai and Klimt to name few.