You see peach, but I see coral. Is it blue-green or aquamarine? Baltimore app developer Presto Bingo has released their second app for modern kiddos — which color identification skills beyond the basic ROYGBIV. In fact, there are more than 80 colors integrated into the fun + whimsical app.
Designed by local momprenuer, award-winning artist, and blogger Joyce Hesselberth, Presto Bingo Colors is one of those apps that keeps the kiddos busy while engaging them in learning. Three different levels makes it easy for young kids to learn basic colors, and older children to test their more complex (eh- richer?) color aptitude. All with delightfully fresh illustrations that are equal parts style and cool.
We caught up with Joyce to chat about the app, kids and creativity. Here’s what she had to say…
I started by playing with squares of color. It looked very clean and modern, kind of like a Josef Albers study. Then I switched out the squares with different shapes – triangles at different angles, or brightly colored bugs. I loved the look, but the concept didn’t really work until I started playing with movement. Once objects started to move, I had a real game.
One thing I love about your illustrations is that they are both modern AND whimsical. What inspires your style?
Oh, thanks! I look at a lot of current illustration and am surrounded by creative people. I love looking at work by designers Paul Rand and Bradbury Thompson. I am also hugely inspired by the work of illustrators Mary Blair and Charley Harper. I saw a lot of Blair and Harper’s work as a kid. Mary Blair designed the Disney attraction “It’s a Small World,” which completely blew my mind as a kid. Charley Harper’s drawings were in textbooks and cookbooks that I used. I didn’t know either of their names until much later, but they were both very influential.
Presto Bingo Colors goes beyond the basic colors and includes more, let’s say obscure colors, like ochre and dove. Why was it important to you that children expand their color palette?
I think if you can name the colors, it helps kids (and grownups) make better observations. As a kid, before I could read, I would pretend-read the book Go, Dogs, Go but instead of saying “red dog on a blue tree,” I would always substitute “magenta dog on a turquoise tree.” I guess the printing on my copy was a little off, but apparently color accuracy has been bugging me for a while. If you can talk about a color, you can apply that language to art, whether you are making your own pictures, or visiting a museum.
We know from Kid Baltimore that you’re a very hands-on parent — with very creative kids! I’m guessing (and it’s totally a guess!) that your kids were involved in the development process. How did you involve them in this and other SPUR projects?
I do admit that they help me test out my apps! I can tell how I’m doing by their reactions. If they constantly ask if they can be my tester, I know I have a winner. You might also notice that they supply the voice-over talent. Our studio is and always will be a kid-friendly zone. Now that they are older (the twins are 9 and our oldest is 15), their projects have become a little more advanced. We just set up a little space where they can work on drawings and stop-motion animations.
A little birdie told us you have a children’s book coming out … Can you give us a sneak peek?
My next children’s book, and the first that I have both written and illustrated, will be published by Henry Holt in 2016! I’m just finishing up the illustrations now and would love to share it, but can’t just yet. The process of writing and illustrating a children’s book has been a dream come true. One hint: it’s about shapes. After my first app, I just wasn’t done playing with shapes, so this book takes all the creative things you can do with shapes a little bit further.
Any advice for parents looking to enrich their child’s creative side this summer? Fun keep ’em busy activities?
I think art projects are all about providing the opportunities and making sure there are as few rules as possible (outside of making sure things are safe for various ages of course). We have a big wall dedicated to hanging my kids’ art. Sometimes we’ve even set it up as a gallery show. In the summer, we clear out the old art. I save a few of their favorites and we start with a clean gallery wall.
It’s also a good time of year to replenish the art supplies. I’m a big believer in buying quality art supplies for kids. Construction paper and crayons are just not that much fun. Instead, I like to buy big pads of paper and acrylic paint, or maybe pastels. It’s a little messier, but worth it. My younger daughter really loves India Ink and a dip pen or sumi brush. I know, I’m a risk taker, right?
Three things you’re looking forward to doing now that the app is released…?
Onto the next project! This summer I’m working on a 2-minute animation for a non-profit group. It’s one of those projects that is both interesting and important, so I couldn’t be happier to get to work on it. I’m also getting another book idea ready for my publisher. And, of course, I’m looking forward to all things summer: trips to the beach, picking blueberries, and cooking over a campfire.