PicsArt is the app for art lovers

By Alicja Gados

PicsArt is the latest leading photo editing app on the Apple operating system (iOS) and Android. It allows users the flexibility and capability to transform their photos into works of art, creating inspirational and thought provoking pieces from their photography.  Over 75 million people are using this app every month, and this is growing. It has a rating of 4.5 stars on the apple App store and over 2.5 million reviews. It’s the most popular photo-editing app on the market today.

If you like using Instagram, you’ll probably love PicsArt.

What is PicsArt?

In the app, users can create drawings, paintings, and edit photos. It is a full-featured photo editor and collage maker. The app has literally hundreds of editing tools, including masks, special effects, frames, overlays, stickers and text. The artistic capabilities from the site are impressive.  The user base is already half as big as Pinterest, and has already reached around 75 million active monthly users.  PicsArt has been downloaded about 250 million times. The apps users are predominantly young female in the 14-24 age range. 

On PicsArt, you can edit a new photo or import one from your camera roll, but also import from Facebook, Picassa, Flickr or Dropbox accounts.  Many people like to share their PicsArt creations on Instagram. The focus of PicsArt is on co-creation and public sharing, differentiating it from Instagram. Instagram’s 400 million monthly users generally follow their own friends, celebrities and influencers, with some choice of editing tools.

PicsArt features professional photo editing tools available to everyone. Image from the PicsArt website. 

PicsArt features professional photo editing tools available to everyone. Image from the PicsArt website. 


PicsArt offers a much broader range of editing and drawing tools than that, and on PicsArt, you can add clip art, cut, paste and re-arrange your photo, and add text bubbles. The goal of PicsArt is to remove the barrier to creation. They want everyone, regardless of skill level, or artistic prowess, to be creative.  They give users these tools to be creative, to collaborate and share their work regardless of their background. 

PicsArt is well suited to those who want more control over their own edits, but so far, not as more for those who want to spend time browsing other peoples’ pieces.  It requires some time getting to know how to use the program. You’ll need to invest some time in learning how to use all the different features.

Promoting Collaboration

The app also allows users to invite their Facebook friends to collaborate on their photos, allowing them to edit photos in non-parallel. They can also share videos of the drawing process. The app can show users step by step how the collages are created. PicsArt created the #freetoedit hashtag and encourages users to tag their image that way, to allow the rest of the community to edit the design.

Use PicsArt to create stunning visuals. Can you use this for branding? Absolutely. Image from @minthuyen posted on the PicsArt website.

Use PicsArt to create stunning visuals. Can you use this for branding? Absolutely. Image from @minthuyen posted on the PicsArt website.


Next for PicsArt

As they grow, the company will release more image filters, simpler editing tools and a process that will allow creations to be made even faster and posted sooner.  They also want to make it easier for users to find creations that will spark their interest, to increase the number of users of the app.  They find that most users actually spend more time creating content than viewing, and in order for the app to become more collaborative, users must be able to find, view and interact with those pieces that resonate with them. The users home screen shows users selections of images with labels such as daily inspiration, most liked, top weekly and monthly, and new or featured users. This will be expanded.

History of PicsArt

The company was founded in Armenia and first launched on the Android platform in 2012 and iOS fairly recently, in 2014. The app collects revenue from advertisements, sponsored contests and selling special image editing upgrades, such as special font and image packages in the app store.

It’s valued at about $250 million. Approximately 25% of the user base in in the US, and the rest are more or less evenly scattered throughout Asia, South America and Europe.  The company now has an office in San Francisco.

In 2014-15, the app was the most popular free app in the Apple app store, and so far in 2016, still remains in the top 20 of photo and video apps downloaded in the US.  Thought you were overloaded with social networks? Many people did think so, but they still flock to PicsArt, signaling that it is filling a new niche. The opportunity to beautify and create works of art through photos and sketches and having the power to tell the story in their own words is something people didn’t even know that they wanted until they had the capability to do so through PicsArt.

Similar apps

There are some similarities with other programs, specifically PicsArt, Flickr and 500PX. All of these apps deal with images and creativity, but they have a different product focus and mission. The difference is that PicsArt is for everyone, not just professional photographers and visual artists. PicsArt supports other artistic mediums, such as drawing, and not just photos.  It doesn’t support just a single creative capability; in fact, it supports different communities and utilities to work together to create something together. The mission of PicsArt is to offer professional level creative tools and features to anyone, allow them to share it with the community, who can also collaborate on the creation.  It’s open source and collaboration intensive.

In the future, we might see that there is a big opportunity for brands to use this tool as part of a marketing strategy, similar to Facebook and Instagram. Marketers can encourage their followers to collaborate on creative images. It will be interesting to see how this develops in the next few years.

Using PicsArt to promote Earth Day, and the 'free to edit' theme.  Image from the PicsArt website.

Using PicsArt to promote Earth Day, and the 'free to edit' theme.  Image from the PicsArt website.

If you’re more interested in discovering other people’s photos, Instagram or EyeEm work better in that regard.  But PicsArt has enough to satisfy the photo editing needs. The app leaves little lacking.

Picsart is expanding very quickly, and recently got $20 million to grow user base in Asia, mainly China and Japan.  The funding came from DCM Ventures.  There is some stiff competition with plenty of locally made photo apps already in the market (like Line Camera and editing apps like Camera 360), but PicsArt hopes to set itself apart with it’s community of 75 million active monthly users with it’s intention to increase engagement and collaboration in the app.  

If you want to check out PicsArt, check out their webpage. A tutorial video is helpful in getting started.

Further reading

PicsArt website.

PicsArt Tutorials.