It’s been thirteen years since Garden State propelled The Shins to mainstream success. In that time, the band’s lineup has changed entirely, save for James Mercer, its founder and ever-present frontman. Now, Mercer is hoping to use his band’s profile to propel another venture into the mainstream. At SXSW 2017, Mercer was in town to promote both his band’s new album, Heartworms, and “Pasted,” a collage application for iPhone and Android.
At a random house in East Austin, Mercer played a short set of Shins songs new and old, and also gave demos of his new app. In an interview with Engadget, he explained why he believes Pasted is a necessary addition to your phone. He’d been searching for an app that could create collages; something that could recreate the “hand-made” look of the flyers he’d created when The Shins first formed in the ’90s. “There are a lot of really amazing AI-based apps,” he said. “Prisma is fantastic, but the problem is that, if you’re somebody that has an artistic bent, you want to be able to hack it and find your thing.”
And so, he, together with musicians-turned-coders Zeke Howard and Ben Fogarty resolved to create Pasted. It’s a simple app to use — you select photos, and then it combines them together. You can then redefine the masking for each image, enlarge, rotate and position the individual elements, and apply various treatments. You can also add stickers and other pre-made elements to your images.
Using the app, Mercer was able to put together a simple image with his and the Engadget video team’s faces in a matter of minutes. The more time you spend on a collage, obviously, the better results you’ll get. The cover art for The Shins’ latest two singles (like “Mildenhall,” above) was created using the app, and it looks far more professional than the quick image of Engadget faces.
Pasted will launch in April on iOS, with an Android version to follow later. Over time, Mercer hopes to collaborate with artists to offer “Paste Packs” that may be charged for, but for now the app and all of its content will be free. “My big picture goal is to be driving around and see a flyer that some band has used our app to make,” said Mercer. “I think we’re just trying to fill a niche, just another little tool where you can express yourself artistically, efficiently, and share it.”
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