iPad not for creation? Martha Stewart disagrees

CraftStudio

Your digital craft table in Martha Stewart’s CraftStudio.

How timely: right as we seem to be reopening the debate over whether or not the iPad is a consumption or creation tool, Martha Stewart, the high priestess of crafty creativity, has launched a brand new iPad app called CraftStudio. The app is free until July 8 when it will revert to normal pricing of $4.99, and is available in the App Store starting Thursday.

CraftStudio closely mimics the act of making a card or any other papercraft: sans the actual scissors, construction paper, glue or glitter. Instead, you do your crafting via the iPad’s interface  — tap, swipe, zoom, rotate. For adding glitter, for instance, you trace where you want the glue to go, pick your glitter color and physically shake the iPad. At that point you’ll see the glitter fall down like a snow globe onto your card or project.

The app takes design cues from Apple: it capitalizes heavily on real-life nostalgia. Much like the leather-stitched calendar of Mac OS’s iCal, you click on the vintage film camera in your craft tray and you get the option to import a photo from your iPad or take a new one. Press the round typewriter key and the iPad’s virtual keyboard pops up, along with a font and text alignment picker.

And these creations are made for sharing. CraftStudio is partnered with HP’s Snapfish brand, so you can share your cards via the service or Facebook or Twitter, save it to your device, or print via AirPrint. While it is free for now–until it goes up to $4.99–Stewart wants to upsell you on in-app purchases of themes like “Vacation Adventure” for $1.99. That gets you extra themed stickers, stamps, paper, glitter and customized page edges and corner punches.

I made this with CraftStudio.

Overall, the app is really easy to learn and use.

And here’s the thing: I don’t consider myself the crafty type. I would never pick up a Martha Stewart magazine off the newsstand, even just for browsing. I don’t own any glitter, markers or stamps. But this app, and the card I made in just a few minutes (at right, don’t laugh) was not only fun as an experience — it made me feel like I was actually capable of being moderately artistic.

I think that’s the most important thing with these new digital creativity tools that we’re starting to see for the iPad. They not only appeal to people who are inclined toward craftiness or building, they also open up these activities to people (like me) who would only use an app like this because it’s easier to get started on digital projects. Snapguide has a similar effect — I don’t normally find myself creating DIY how-to guides for other people, but Snapguide’s ease of use makes me want to.

That’s why the idea that the iPad is not a creation tool is really rather silly. There are plenty of apps out there that prove that wrong already — Paper, Brushes, GarageBand, Codea — but now even Martha Stewart is putting her name and her brand on the iPad as a legitimate avenue of creativity.

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