Jordan Melnick, founder of the blog Beached Miami, has an idea: Create a portrait of every person on earth. And he thinks he has an app for that. It’s called Sktchy, and it aims to inspire artists and give them a way to share their work.
Sktchy users can browse user-submitted photos to find a face that inspires them, create a portrait in the medium of their choosing (Sktchy does not have a built-in drawing mode), and upload it for others to see.
The app grew out of Sketchy Miami, a project Melnick helped launch in 2011 with an event at Lester’s in Wynwood in which people could have their portraits done by artists for a small fee. Expecting 50 attendees, they drew 500, and held a second event at Bakehouse Art Complex that attracted 1,000.
Melnick and Sktchy co-founder Robby Campbell worked with a design team and programmer for several months before releasing the app on July 19 in its beta form, which generated more than 1,600 portraits. It formally launches Thursday at the LAB Miami in Wynwood.
“Everybody who is working on this really believes in it strongly [and] sees it as a potentially game-changing thing for artists and for people just to be able to tap in this vast amount of untapped creativity that’s in all of us,” Melnick says.
The unusual spelling of “sketchy” was a financial decision: The owner of www.sketchy.com wanted $700,000 for the domain name.
App user Stephannie Figueroa, a Miami Dade College student, says she enjoys the chance to engage with fellow artists.
“There is nothing more fulfilling than creating a portrait and having that person write back to you saying that they loved what you created,” Figueroa says. “Not only do you get to meet new people from around the world, you also establish connections with other artists.”
Italian Web designer and developer Fabrizio Fiandanese has become one of the app’s most prominent contributors.
“I used to look on Instagram for Tumblr for nice pictures to create portraits for [before I] found Sktchy,” Fiandanese says. “It fits perfectly into my routine, provides great inspiration, and when you create a new portrait you know you’ll get feedback not only from the picture owner but also from the community — thrilling.”
Sktchy is free and has no ads. The team is waiting for growth before looking for revenue, according to Melnick, who says the app will evolve.
“We see that as a long-term concept, not a fad,” he says.