Since inception, FiftyThree has been all about helping to unlock its users’ creativity. With the introduction of its Paper app and its iPad stylus Pencil, the company has provided tools that can be used on a wide variety of different drawings, sketches, and other creative projects.
Up until now, the one thing that was missing from its app was the ability to share and collaborate on projects. Well, it’s taking care of that, too: The newest version of the Paper app will have a feature called Mix, which will enable users to view and riff on projects others have started, as well as sharing their own projects that can be added to.
The Mix platform was built to inspire creativity among users, according to co-founder and CEO Georg Petschnigg. The company was founded on that idea and has been working toward it first with the launch of the Paper app and later with its Pencil stylus. But he says Mix is the culmination of all the work that has come before it.
Mix is designed to make it easier to get creative, by providing a series of templates, outlines, and tutorials users can build on without having to begin from scratch. It also gives them collaboration tools to enable them to openly share their own projects with others to remix and build on them.
Once they’ve entered the Mix interface by swiping down on the app, users will be able to tap on any project and add their own drawing on top of it. Once done adding to the piece, they can share that remix, which then others can add to. Users can save a project for later or add it to the mix, and will be notified whenever something they’ve added to is remixed by someone else.
By doing so, Petschnigg hopes to remove the biggest barrier for users to using the app, which is simply a lack of confidence around being creative. By building on existing templates and projects, they will no longer be working with a fully blank canvas, and be more comfortable with adding their own contributions.
“We hope this will have a meaningful cultural impact, in particular on how people think about their own creativity,” Petschnigg told me by phone. “One of the biggest complaints we had about Paper was not about Paper, but about them not feeling creative… What people were actually saying is they didn’t know how to draw.”
The platform keeps tabs on all different variations of a project and attribution for additions made by each individual user over time. That way, users can see the full evolution of a piece of art they’ve contributed to. They can also find other users to follow whose work they like and whom they’d like to collaborate with.
They’ll be able to see projects from those followers, as well as those from categories they’ve subscribed to. Users can also search through a series of curated categories to find other collaborations they might be interested in contributing to.
To help bolster its curation efforts, FiftyThree has hired some serious community talent. That includes former Flickr community manager Heather Champ, Vimeo’s former director of community Dr. dalas verdugo, and former Foodspotting community and social media head Amy Cao.
In addition to its iPad app, FiftyThree is also enabling users to see different projects in their stream or follow other creators through a new Mix website. The site is optimized to be viewed on desktop, mobile, or tablet, so they don’t necessarily need the app to be able to sort through their content.
FiftyThree plans to make Mix available to all users over time, but will be gradually rolling it out over the coming weeks through its Paper app. Existing users will get an in-app notification the next time they open the app and will be able to sign up for access to Mix. The company plans to enroll about 5,000 people each day to ensure the service scales, before opening up invitations to everyone by the end of October.