1. Opinion

Party to launch Artbook Tampa Bay app, an eyeful for iPad

Gloria Matyszyk is one of the artists whose works are included in Artbook Tampa Bay, Volumes 1 and 2, “coffee table books” for iPad.
Gloria Matyszyk is one of the artists whose works are included in Artbook Tampa Bay, Volumes 1 and 2, “coffee table books” for iPad.
Published Mar. 22, 2013

Remember the folks from One St. Pete?

It was a grass roots campaign aimed at uniting and healing the Sunshine City in the spring of 2011 after the murders of three police officers.

That effort was the brainchild of Kevin Hohl, chief strategy officer for HD Interactive, a Tampa software development company specializing in mobile apps.

These folks were responsible for the illuminated series of photographs, drawings and QR codes that were projected on buildings throughout downtown two years ago.

Well, they're back with another project.

Artbook Tampa Bay focuses on the wealth of artists who call the bay area home. Artists in this project come from Tampa, St. Petersburg, beach communities and places in between.

On Thursday, more than 60 artists and some 500 art aficionados will gather at the Museum of Fine Arts from 6 to 9 p.m. for the official launch party for Artbook Tampa Bay 2013, which is sure to be a visual spectacle.

You see, Artbook isn't a typical book. It is delivered in the form of an iPad app.

The Artbook Archive is available on iTunes. That app is free, but once uploaded, there are as many as six apps for the taking for 99 cents to $1.99 each. They include Artbook Tampa Bay, Volumes 1 and 2, Artbook Austin (Texas), Scratch the Surface and Leave a Message.

True to form, Hohl and company are attempting a launch with a goal of going viral. Hohl has once again partnered with Industrial Strength, a lighting and audiovisual company at 28th Street and 35th Avenue N.

There's a plan to illuminate — via projectors — some of the artwork in the museum's atrium. Some patrons also will be able to thumb through the pages of Artbook Tampa Bay via iPads that will be made available that evening. Hohl said he's trying to get his hands on as many tablets as possible for Thursday's event.

Artbook Archive is the brainchild of Sean Carey and Hohl, both of HD Interactive.

HD Interactive already has plans to host other local art shows.

Hohl is hoping to launch artbooks throughout the United States.

"It cost about $45,000 to produce the book," he said. But part of the problem is, many artists aren't as Web savvy, so there's little opportunity to spread the word about the project. Hohl is hoping Thursday's event will change that.

Each submission in the book includes a brief biography of the artist and links to email and websites. Viewers can scroll down the page to see additional artwork.

"We want the community to embrace the book, but we'd like for it to happen organically," said Hohl.

"We'd like to have an artbook in every city. Once we get enough submissions from a geographic location, we'll produce a book."

The 80 artists featured in the book will show a piece of their work or create a new piece live for the museum event. Most works will be for sale, with all proceeds going to the artist.

The event is free; all are invited.

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at or (727) 893-8874. On Twitter @StPeteSandi.