August — Art Discovery 2.0

As someone unfortunately not blessed with an eye for art (or any artistic attribute whatsoever), I frequently find myself on the lookout for something that knocks my socks off. Okay, I admit it… I’m mostly trawling for a new desktop wallpaper. Gone are the days when Google Images was your only recourse. Websites like 500px are like a global showcase for amazing photography, and it’s become far easier to find breathtaking photographs. The barrier for entry isn’t that high either. A website that caught our eye recently is August.

What sets it apart from something like 500px? Quite simply, it’s an agglomeration of MEDIA, not just photographs. This means photos, videos and audio are all available to showcase. It’s also, essentially, a social network – connecting artists with their audience, akin to Tumblr or Instagram, but a lot more focused. It is accompanied by a frankly stunningly designed app for iPhone. A simple sign up process leads to a section that allows you to pick from some featured artists, based on some samples of their work. The main app itself works like you’d expect. You get a timeline view of the artists you follow, with each submission looking like an Instagram post. Tapping on a post opens up a detailed view, with comments, sections for tagging, reposting options, etc. If you’re looking at an image, tapping again open up a zoomed in view, which you can scroll across by tilting the phone (very similar to how Paper handles Facebook images), and tapping on videos opens them up in full screen. You can swipe down on any item to save it to your collection, which is sort of like the Favorites folder in iOS Photos. Sending messages to the artists you follow is also just a tab away.

If you’re wondering that the app looks suspiciously like a reskinned Instagram, you’re not that far off the mark. I was caught off guard too, but I can envision a world where both apps can coexist. Instagram is for casual sharing, while August is for those looking to showcase their work to a wider audience.

August is off to a great start, and it’s an app that I’ve put on my homescreen. I really, really appreciate the way the app shows off the work of the artists you follow, and the sheer quality of the art on display is stunning. It has teething problems, of course. For one thing, the number of people actually registered as Artists is very small. The August app is a viewer only for now – you can only upload your work to the site using your computer’s browser, and this is possible only if you’re a registered Artist (invite-only for now). An iPad app would be handy, and is said to be in the works, along with apps for Android and Windows Phone as well. All of this promises a great future for August, which, according to its own website will always be a "work in progress" because it is shaped by you!

August is available for Free on the App Store.

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