How This Artist/ Dad/ Teacher Works and Plays with Noteshelf

Chris Francis is one of our recent Best Note Taking Contest winners of a Bamboo Fineline stylus. He blogs at and at, a resource for art educators that provides lesson ideas, and playful reflections on creative teaching and learning. Read up on his work, hobbies and how he uses Noteshelf on a daily basis.

1.) Tell us your background.
I'm a Senior Leader at a secondary school in Bournemouth, a town on the south coast of England. (I can see the beach through my classroom window and seagulls are a daily hazard). I teach both art and photography - mostly to post 16 students - and witter happily about such things on my blog

I originally studied as an illustrator and worked freelance for 5 years in both the UK and Australia before getting a grown-up job. That said, I'll always be a doodler at heart.

2.) How did you discover Noteshelf?
I discovered Noteshelf through a process of trial and error - working my way through a variety of apps on a quest for something that felt right. For me that meant the feel of doodling with an ink pen - and at the drop of a hat - but without the mess. Mostly it means I can sit on the sofa and relax, feet up, no fear of ink spills. My wife is happy.

3.) What made you choose Noteshelf for your note taking needs? What kind of notes do you usually have in Noteshelf? 

I like the 'instantness' of Noteshelf. Other apps offer a wider selection of tools, but for me this can be a distraction. Spontaneity can be lost with increased decisions. Some apps also feel a little more intimidating with the blank canvas they offer, somehow Noteshelf feels more familiar, like a sketchbook. I'm also taken with the coloured markers. I've got my favourited colours and know my way around these quickly.

I've used Noteshelf for a variety of illustration commissions (including one of our recent publication) but mostly tend to share doodles of my 3 year old son, Dougie.

These were what I submitted to the competition. It's nice to keep a diary of some of his exploits and they often make their way around family members (and across Twitter). 

Images exported from Noteshelf are a decent resolution too, which is important to me. For example, I've just illustrated a 2016 calendar as a christmas present - a simple Dougie themed affair - but the print quality holds up really well. 

I initially worried about losing the 'tangibleness' of an actual sketchbook but now see that iPad drawing compliments this opening up different possibilities, not least the ability to copy, paste and transform sections of a drawing. I've got plenty of loosening up to do still - in terms of quality and flow of line - but I think Noteshelf has helped with this also. Flicking through my Noteshelf library I can see improvements from when I first started to now.

I do use the app for the day job too. I hook my iPad up to a digital projector and doodle away. it's handy to annotate images, unpick a composition, or demonstrate something like thumbnail sketching.

It always feels more playful - and generates more curiosity - than working directly on the whiteboard. Of course it's then easy to save resources or email them out too. So no getting away from those teacher notes!

4.) How would you recommend Noteshelf to a friend or colleague?
Amongst the busyness of work and family life, time to be creative can be in short supply. In many ways that's how I've ended up a fan of using Noteshelf, it is very accessible and it doesn't feel like a compromised drawing experience. I should probably broaden my subject matter but I suspect I'll be drawing the boy (pirate / monster / builder / fireman...) for a while yet!

Follow Chris on Twitter at @DevNicely and visit his websites at and at

An English Language and Literature Teacher on Life and Noteshelf

Monica Laura Vittadini is our past Bamboo Stylus fineline winner. She's an English teacher who lives on Itally. Read more about her interests and how she uses Noteshelf on a daily basis.

1. Tell us your background and occupation.
I graduated in English Language and Literature and I have been teaching English for more than 25 years, first to primary school kids then to teenagers.

2.  What specific projects are you working on right now?
My jobs involves culture beside language so every year I try to mix interesting historical, literary or social facts with the language objectives meant for each class.

3.  What hobbies are you into and how did you get into it?
Because of my university studies I’m very fond of British culture above all literature and history. I like reading very much as well as watching films or TV dramas on BBC or DVDs. During spring and summer I love hiking in the mountains with my family. When I have the opportunity I like travelling, too.

4.  Who/what inspires you?
I believe in the power of education to make the world a better place. Reading and learning make people free from stereotypes and falsehood and let them become open to dialogue and mutual understanding.

5.  What are you passionate about? Name three.
My family, the UK and my job.

6.  What’s a typical day for you?
I get up at about 6, stay at school from 7.45 to 1.45 then in the afternoon again school work (paper work or meetings) either at school or at home. In the evening a chat with my husband and daughter, some cooking, maybe some workout in the gym (not too much as I’m a kind of armchair person). After dinner a book or some TV, but I usually go to bed early.

7.  How did you discover Noteshelf?
I’m quite fond of technology and after lots of pcs, I became an Apple fan several years ago. I got the first Ipad as a Christmas present and since then I have been trying to get the best from technology both for my job and free time activities.

I came across Noteshelf on the App Store and from the description I immediately understood that it was what I was looking for. I love writing by hand and having the possibility to do so on my ipad was great!

8.  How does Noteshelf help you with your daily grind?
I love using my ipad and after the first one I have been given (always as a present) a mini one which is always with me. I used to be a Moleskine user because I like storing things: photos, recipes, ideas, school projects. Now I do everything with my iPad and Noteshelf. Moreover with Noteshelf I can choose whether to type or use my handwriting. Of course since you were so kind to let me have a Wacom Bamboo Stylus the handwriting experience is much more neat and fun.

9.  What kind of notes do you have in Noteshelf?
As I said before I store loads of things in my Noteshelf and I appreciate a lot the fact that I can choose different kinds of paper and above all I customize my notebooks’ covers.

10.  What for you are the top 3 most important feature of Noteshelf and why?
The possibility to organize notebooks at a glance with different covers and titles because once the app is open it takes just a second to select the one you need; secondly the writing instruments and colours which add value to my notes, charts, sketches; third the possibility to import photos/text which can be neatly organized for future use. If you allow a fourth feature I would add the share button.

11.  What stylus do you use and why?
I used to write with a common stylus for capacitive screens, however I wasn’t really happy because the writing experience was a little bit awkward due to the big tip and the friction caused on the screen. When I received the Wacom Bamboo Stylus I saw the difference indeed! The fact that Noteshelf and Bamboo Stylus work together is really amazing and also my skeptical friends were left really speechless when I let them try it.

12  What are you other favourite apps/programs/gadgets?
For my iPad I have a bluetooth keyboard to speed up my typing when I need to be neat and precise and bluetooth loudspeaker to make my students do some listening comprehension (all my English CDs in my ipad and no more Cd player!!!).

For my job I like using Teacher Kit because it allows me to register marks. I have also recently downloaded Daily Notes as I was looking for an app to use it during my school year as a notebook to keep records of my daily work in class.

For my free time activities I appreciate e-books and e-magazines apps.

13. How would you recommend Noteshelf to those who doesn’t use any note- taking app? To those that are using another note-taking app?
Here in Italy, especially in the school environment not a lot of people are keen on technology, but since I have started to use my ipad with Noteshelf I have made more than one colleague to buy both! I think that it is a winning app above all because of it is straightforward. It is really easy to use and manage but, at the same time, it gives you loads of opportunities to organize your notes. In the past I downloaded at least two other similar apps, however they did not have all the nice and useful features Noteshelf has and once tried it is really difficult to do without.