It’s been almost a month since design guru Khoi Vinh launched his social collage app, Mixel, and after coming across a few inspired mixels on Twitter, we decided to check back with the first-time startup founder and veteran NYTimes.com design director. Mr. Vinh was in the middle of fixing some memory bugs that were causing intermittent crashing, but took time to Gchat Betabeat about how users have responded to the app so far.
But first we had to ask, based on evidence, would he consider Taylor Swift something of a personal muse? “Isn’t she a muse to everyone?” he wondered. Betabeat mentioned a surprisingly rousing rendition of “Fifteen” performed by some (adult) friends at karaoke night over the weekend. “She won’t be denied,” Mr. Vinh concluded.
As for the app at large, “Remixes are very popular,” noted Mr. Vinh, “Some of the remix threads get very long.” The last time we spoke, Mr. Vinh had pointed out that, for your average amateur, an art-making app without a social element was doomed to fizzle. “The threads are conversations, and when you open one up, it’s a little like walking up to a few people chatting at a party. People feel compelled to jump in and join.”
“They create a spur-of-the-moment opportunity to create something,” he added, “Because you have pieces and ideas to work with and add to or subtract from.”
He also noticed that early users were not reusing individual pieces as much as he and his co-founder Scott Ostler had expected. “Most of the images that go into mixels are pulled from the Popular tab or the Web Image Search tab (within the edit screen)…What we had thought was that people would also browse other people’s mixels and say, ‘Hey, I want to use that in a mixel of my own.'” A possible solution to that, he proposed a ‘drawer feature’, “So that when you’re looking at someone else’s mixel, and you see a piece you like, you can tuck it away for later.”
Mr. Vinh declined to share the number of users just yet, pointing out that, “We’re a creation app on iPad, so we don’t get the exposure that people will get to a Web site.” In that same vein, times of usage also differ, “We see a lot of activity at night, as people leave their iPads at home during the day, for the most part. And a lot of activity on Saturday, too. So it’s very different from the Web, which a lot of people will surf during work. We’ve also heard a lot of people say, ‘I’m having Mixel withdrawal’ when they leave their iPads at home.'” (That reminds us, we have some Words With Friends games to dominate . . .)
If you’re suffering from Mixel withdrawl yourself, here are five of Mr. Vinh’s favorites, followed by five of our own.
We Shall Nom Nom Nom
by Mixel co-founder Scott Ostler
by Justin Germek
Khoi says: "This is a great thread that does some fun things with the Beatles' 'Abbey Road' cover, but what I like best about this one is that it came from my 15 year-old nephew. It's ingenious, to begin with, and yet it's completely appropriate for the subject matter. I'm pretty sure he's not a big Beatles fan, but he still got the spirit right, nevertheless."
by David Jacobs
Khoi says: "This thread was kicked off by a user who barely even finished the first mixel, but nevertheless it bloomed into an incredibly fun exploration of neon signs that eventually worked its way to Lady Gaga (of course!)."
Eyes Without a Face
by Jeremy Agius
Khoi says, "Mixel users have gotten quite ingenious with the very limited toolset that we've given them to work with. We never told anyone that Mixel supports transparent PNGs, but people figured that out early. Here, Jeremy Agius uses some translucent PNGs to great effect; these are just circles, basically, but he's a very sophisticated expression from them."
by Ivy D'Brie
Khoi says: "A completely charming use of Mixel as an illustration tool. This figure was made up entirely from a single old style diagram and fashioned into a really wonderful character rendering."
Leonardo Da Taylor
by Khoi Vinh
An artist finds his muse.
by Lindsay Donaghe
Others are likewise inspired.
Martha, Martha, Martha!
by Mark Elliot Cullen
Muppets Take the Death Star!
by Anthony Harden
Halp! The Muppets endless publicity brigade has invaded Mixel!
by Torben Brooks
Cops harassing coppers!
Caturday in Times Square
Bonus mixel by Ben Kessler
"Top notch," says Ben Kessler.