These images are from various mobile apps created by Franky Aguilar.

Put a Cat on It! App Artist Franky Aguilar

By Charles Purdy

Inspired by pop culture and graffiti (not to mention pizza, cats, and explosions), artist Franky Aguilar and his app-development company 99centbrains have brought the world several popular sticker apps (such as Catwang, WayCooler, Snoopify, and CybrFM)—apps that let people manipulate and add cartoon elements to their digital photos.

He released his first app, Catwang, in April 2012. A month later, the app had been downloaded 130,000 times. Two months after that, the app (which is free but offers premium stickers for sale) was bringing in $400 a day—so Franky left a steady gig at Zynga to focus on his own creations. Fifty-eight billion (one more time: 58,000,000,000). That’s Franky’s estimate of how many works of art his various apps have helped make possible—works of art that have been shared, tweeted, liked, and posted throughout the mobileverse and beyond. 

Franky is changing the way people create, and he’s putting the tools of creativity in everyone’s hands. In his words, with new digital tools like sticker apps, “everyone gets to be creative, without having to have art experience or design experience.” Franky has been drawing all his life, and he thinks of creativity as a community experience—for him, creating art still calls to mind doodling with his high school friends in the cafeteria. 

His new endeavor, YoShirt, lets people take their digital creations out of their smartphones and into the real world—onto T-shirts, socks, and other pieces of clothing. It’s the democratization of design, and it looks like a whole lot of fun. Watch the Inspire video (below) to learn more about Franky.

December 4, 2014

Video: Lynn Margherita