Getting Into Shapely


Kansas City mobile app makers marry photos and design for foolproof fun

What catches our eye visually helps to distinguish what is important, fun, attractive, dangerous and unusual. So it’s no surprise that photos and video dominate what people choose to share via social media. And local application designers Shapely aim to make sharing photos socially even more fun and memorable.

The free basic app for Apple phones and tablets enables users to put photos into formatted shapes that result in simple, catchy designs with a minimum of work. The advanced app costs $1.99 for the full array of 200 shapes.

 Shapely founder Chris Jones and his wife Becca, Shapely’s community manager, got the idea for the app after they spent a week during December 2011 in Austin, Texas. Becca says, “Inspired by the creative energy of the city, Chris began to envision a foolproof tool that could help non-designers create attractive yet simple designs. He began designing the app in January of 2012, and it was launched that December.”

Chris, a senior interactive art director for MMGY Global, earned his BFA in design from the University of Kansas in 2005 and has formerly worked as a designer for local firms Willoughby Design and VML. He designed the app, including all the shapes, textures, patterns and colors as well as the user interface, and hired a developer for the code.

 “Our goal was to capture all the most universal and useful design motifs that will stand the test of time,” Chris says. “Along the way, we also threw in some that are goofy and whimsical for fun, and ended with 96 shapes, grouped into six shape categories.”

“We wanted to deconstruct design down to its most basic and universal elements [shape + color fill + graphics = design].” ~ Chris Jones, Founder, Shapely

Combining shapes and images into universal designs has great appeal but wasn’t the initial idea for the app.

 “Instagram, and also Pinterest, have gained popularity in part because they help people be creative. We see a larger trend where people are using photos as a reflection of their taste, their interests and style,” says Chris.“Shapely is another tool that enables people to tell a better story with imagery.”

“We originally approached Shapely as a logo design app. After passing around the concept to friends, we quickly realized that adding photography and design made the app much more useful and customizable to a larger audience,” Becca adds. “So we don’t call them logos anymore, but Shapelys.”

Chris and Becca believe that Shapely will stand apart from other photo-based apps. “Shapely’s mission is to make design easy and fun for everyone. Our commitment to democratizing design distinguishes our app from other photo-based apps,” Chris says. “While we incorporate photography into our app, we do not aim to compete with photo-filtering apps.”

Read the complete article about the Shapely mobile app in the digital edition of KC Business