4chan founder Christopher Poole (a.k.a. moot) is hoping to do for drawing what Instagram has done for photos with the release of a new drawing app for iPad called DrawQuest.
In the same way that Instagram has made it extremely easy for anyone and everyone to take an aesthetically pleasing picture and throw it up on Web/mobile for all to see, DrawQuest was designed to get the average Joe doodling again.
“We spoke with so many people who told us that they weren’t creative, and often didn’t make time to express themselves creatively via any medium,” Poole says. “We built DrawQuest because we reject the notion that creativity is a mystical gift passed on to some people and not others.”
In essence, the app is pretty simple: Each day users sign in to undertake a new “Quest,” whether it be drawing an expression on a stick figure’s face, creating a superhero or capturing an emotion. A “Quest” is a lot like an elementary school writing prompt of yore — crossed with a coloring book. Sure, you’re asked to “color in” a picture, but you’re also asked to elaborate on what’s already on the page. Therefore, the whole deal is a lot more than just “coloring inside the lines.”
Like Instagram, DrawQuest is a community, and users are able to follow and interact with others in-app, watch stroke-by-stroke replay videos of how drawings were done, as well as share drawings via social networks. Users can also earn currency for completing tasks, which can be used to purchase more colors, etc.
The idea for DrawQuest was born out of Poole’s last venture, Canvas, a kind of cleaned-up version of 4chan (the image-based bulletin board that Poole founded nearly 10 years ago) that allows users to create and remix their own memes. After releasing Canvas, Poole found that, sadly, the majority of people were not embracing the remix capabilities of the site — they were merely browsing the memes that a small portion of users were creating.
Poole had seen this kind of spectator mentality playing out in other realms as well — he notes that while more and more people are consuming and enjoying user-created memes and content (even your grandma knows what a LOLCat is), he hasn’t seen an increase in the number of content creators overall.
He attributes this lack of initiative on the general populace’s part to an overall decline in creativity — a claim that is not without its basis; according to Kyung Hee Kim, a professor of education at the College of William and Mary, creativity has been on the decline among U.S. school children since around 1984-1990.
We’ll have to wait and see how willing the denizens of the Web will be to start undertaking Poole’s “Quests,” but the recent (however brief) success of games like Draw Something seems to indicate that there is some creativity to be found among the morass of humanity tapping away at their iPhones. Just take a look at sites like Draw Something Gallery and music videos like Isaac Simon’s “Call To Arms,” which integrates the game into the graphics. The urge to create is there, even if it comes in fits and starts.
The trick, with DrawQuest, will undoubtedly be finding the staying power among users to become a part of their daily routines. And if Poole succeeds — who knows? Maybe we’ll all be drawing pictures of our lunch in one year’s time. Here’s hoping.