Aviary: A Bird of a Different Feather

Sure I’m a lawyer. But I am also a graphic artist and illustrator too, in my wads of spare time. A few years back, I started to teach myself to use computers to make art, negotiating the transition in technique from traditional media to the very different process of thinking in layers and elements. I got myself a Vector graphics program and figured it out. And let me tell you, decent graphics programs are not cheap.

Not that very long ago, my vector program decided to slip into a coma, which was a problem as I was in the midst of a couple of graphics projects. How I wish I knew back then about Aviary.

Go on, ask: what’s Aviary? Aviary (link here) is a suite of surprisingly powerful creative applications that you can use right in your web browser. Their applications span the creative genres, from graphic design to audio editing. All you have to do is fill out your free account and get creating! Did I say free? By George, I did!

I’ll come right out and say it: learning how to manipulate graphics tools such as these is not an easy process. There is definitely a noticeable learning curve to be climbed. However, couple that learning curve with the comparably steep price these programs usually command and you pretty much have a Great Wall of China standing in the way of the average person’s desire to learn how to create and manipulate their own graphics, images and music clips.

When you reduce that number to free, the process becomes far more compelling. And Aviary is mindful of that – you have to check out their absolutely amazing tutorials (link here). There has to have been some point in your online career when you wished you could “Photoshop” and image or draw a logo or, perhaps, create a sound clip to add to a video or audio ‘cast. With Aviary, there is no expense other than your time coupled with your Web browser (and a hopefully decently fast processor).

There is an Aviary Pro paid level with access to additional features for $24.95 per year. This pro or “Blue” membership gives you unlimited storage and allows you to create private works, remove the Aviary watermark from images, access all tutorials, and increases means of participating in online communities and promotional features. This is peanuts, folks.

Once you finish your masterpiece, you can export a flat version of files (like jpg and gif) to your computer. Unflattened work (layers intact) will remain on Aviary’s servers. Eventually, Aviary promises to add a paid service allowing export of these workable files, but for now, only your finished product is functionally downloadable.

Aviary is also an online community. You can connect to your social networks to find friends. You can make your creations public and share with others, who can then comment on them. You also can collaborate with Aviary’s community of artists, or hire Aviary to put their considerable design expertise to work for you. Who are these amazing people?

Aviary is on a mission to make creation accessible to artists of all genres, from graphic design to audio editing. We’re a privately held company currently headquartered in New York City with team members around the world. Our founders also created Worth1000.com, a talented community of 500,000 digital artists that participate in amazing daily contests.

All I can say is, the sky’s the limit with this great set of free graphics tools for the do-it-yourself-er.