The Nomad Art Satchel successor prototype cometh! Pictures galore.
Darren here, I know this is out of the blue and it has been a long time, but I do hope you have been keeping well <3
Things on my end have been super busy, but long story short: I have been secretly working on the spiritual successor to the Nomad in the shadows for the last year, shrouded in solitude and mystery. Let me start by showing you the current prototype iteration with many more pictures as you scroll down down down.
As you can see, it's pretty different visually huh? Just a disclaimer, the product is not yet finalized, we are quite literally going through another prototyping round as we type this, but it is indicative of the direction we're going with the materials, colors and styling. We're working quite heavily on the front face to reduce tension wrinkles as well as upgrade to 2 g-hook buckles in order to distribute the tension more evenly.
We chose to switch the original materials from ballistic nylon into an alternative called Kodra, which is also very tough and weather resistant, although we feel the material is much classier.
Just a quick pause - the 'Nomad' brand is no more due to trademarking concerns - in its wake, we are now the Etchr brand. If you want to read the long personal reasoning behind my absence, return and creation of a new company please check out these links: Absence & Resurgence - otherwise just carry on reading for product development.
WHY WE STOPPED SELLING
Demand for the original Nomad was still strong even though we discontinued the original inception last year.
I felt a moral obligation to hold off production on a new batch of product until I had evolved the design to solve the shortcomings of the original Nomad Art Satchel, but the more I thought about it, there more I didn't want to just do a minor upgrade - in my mind, it could be SO much more.
When I launched the original Nomad Art Satchel, it was as good as I could make the product with the resources I had, but there were definitely things I wished I could have improved if I had more time / money.
Now I have the ability to take it closer to the level of functionality I wished the original had due to an upgrade in working capital as well as a better and faster prototyping process which is pretty darn exciting.
I sought a lot of user feedback over the last couple of years (can you believe that btw? How time flies!) from backers and customers. With this post, I wanted to show how closely I've listened to this feedback and improved on all the pain points of the original.
Also, I wanted to apologize - in hindsight, I should have posted an earlier survey here on Kickstarter to really drill down into a larger number of people, but to be frank the same subset of issues were coming up from multiple interviews (as well as my own extended field use), so I felt I had a pretty good idea of what I needed to improve on with the original before upgrading new functionality.
That being said, if you'd like to post, I'd still like to hear any suggestions if you don't see your gripes mentioned in this post.
So far, we've undertaken two prototype iterations, and we've been performing field tests in order to finalize and dial in the detailing for our 3rd and final prototype before moving the workload over to the manufacturer to do samples and cost up production runs for KICKSTARTER PART DEUX!
We're hoping to launch in June - July this year, but there are a lot of moving parts, so there's a possibility of change.
The Etchr Art Satchel, in addition to addressing the shortcomings of the Nomad head-on, also brings to the table a HUGE amount of brand new functionality that I think you will all be thrilled with, but I'm going to have to save that for another update.
As usual, this post has turned into one of my trademark super-long Great American Novel length posts as is, and discussing the new functionality would send the length of this post into over-drive and you would probably have visibly aged by the time you finish reading that beast.
THE FIXES ARE IN
Before we delve into the improvements, I wanted to mention that while we improved on the weak points, we kept a very keen eye on preserving the functionality of the original Nomad Art Satchel.
Quite often, when companies improve their initial offerings, their new solutions sometimes trample on the good points of the last iteration, and we were very keen to avoid that mistake.
We're happy to report that we've preserved much of what people loved about the first, and just amped up everything else while also adding a ton of new functionality that does not negatively affect the original functionality in any way.
With that said, let's look at what has improved.
1. MORE INTERNAL SPACE
By FAR, the single biggest issue for most people was that the main internal compartment was too slim and thus wasn't able to hold enough materials and tools. Even a fairly slim sketchbook and a few pencils on the other side meant that closing the Nomad was a very tight affair.
Our prototype increases the central compartment internal depth significantly, while not adding significant external size - you can see below, that the thickness of the prototype is not much more than the original Nomad Art Satchel.
We have reworked the internal system from the ground up to save space and weight - so no more strap boards! We found that with our new internal design we added more than an inch of depth, which is an optimal size for most people.
The added room allows people to carry much thicker regular sketchbooks as well as thicker art tools such as primacolor markers without causing any squishy-ness.
We actually pushed the depth much more in our first prototype, but we found that depth excessive and compromised on both the rigidness and function of the product, as well as having a negative visual impact.
Anyway, because we saved so much room, we can rather hilariously, actually fit an entire original Nomad Art Satchel within the central compartment, which would have been preposterous to even suggest trying with the original.
And apart from the extra depth, we added a little bit of size to it too - here is the prototype with my Cintiq Companion inside - it actually makes a rather sexy little laptop bag ;)
Laying the Nomad and Etchr Art Satchels on top of each other, you can also see their footprints do not differ that greatly.
2. REDESIGNED INTERNAL SYSTEM
Apart from more depth and size, I decided to completely redesign the system used to hold your tools and pad. Although most people were pretty happy with the original, I found a few things about the original strap boards less than ideal:
- Very heavy
- Takes up excessive limited space
- A huge number of failure points
- Didn't hold pads / books / tools very securely
- Excessively expensive to replace
- Straps took up a lot of drawing real estate
The new system replaces the backing with various components.
Firstly, a velcro friendly felt material that feels nicer and simplifies the visual look. The functionality of the strap boards for holding your pad or tablet is now replaced with a combination of repositionable corner tabs and a center-line tab.
Looks a bit different right? Let me assure you, they are much much much more secure, much less prone to failure, easier and cheaper to replace, they save a ton of weight, they take up 80% less real estate on your pad, and they have a huge amount of flexibility in how you deploy them to allow for a wider variety of tools / devices to be held securely in place.
As you can see, the tabs allow for out-of-the-box secure tablet attachment too, which is a pretty cool feature. Furthermore, the corner tabs allow you to BYO tablet cover without requiring you to remove it in order to securely attach it to the interior of the Etchr Art Satchel.
We found through both feedback and our own field use that the original strap boards were not particularly efficient at holding your tools.
So here's a look at a first iteration prototype of the new art tool management system which we've nicknamed the bandolier) composed of velcro backing, and layered strips of high tensile elastic which will be stitched to military molle strapping designation and much less prone to breaking.
This will allow you to keep your tools managed to an expert OCD level, and also be able to attach after-market military-spec molle components to further extend usability
3. CARRY HANDLE
A seemingly small item, but one that was widely requested in a follow up product - the ability to grab the satchel by a carry handle is something that was greatly desired by many people, so we not only gave you one, but two. The Etchr Art Satchel can be carried by handle in both portrait and landscape mode.
4. MORE FRONT POCKET STORAGE
Because of their overlapping padded layout and shallow profile (to allow the Nomad panels to overlap when open), the dual front pockets weren't able to hold a significant amount of carry, meaning they were largely not-very-useful.
Between the lack of space in the main compartment and the lack of space in the front pocket, we found a lot of folks who actually liked the functionality of the Nomad Art Satchel were having to carry extra bags to transport their tools. Obviously this is far from ideal and the call for more front pocket storage was strong.
You asked, and we delivered - while the original Nomad Art Satchel could barely accommodate much more than a Naked iPad, the new Etchr prototype can...well...see for yourself....it is able to actually fit an entire Nomad Art Satchel in there...plus some :) It can also cram two of my biggest, heaviest art tomes into the front pocket...imagine all the art books you can buy and carry home! Feed your art book addiction!
On the flipside of the Etchr Art Satchel's ability to expand quite dramatically, let's see that sexy pic where it's able to collapse to almost the thickness of the original Nomad Art Satchel again. Look at that! I like the idea that the user isn't forced to lug around an oversized empty art bag if you're not hauling a lot of stuff on a particular day.
One of the biggest changes to the Etchr Art Satchel from the original Nomad, is that the default orientation of the bag has turned into landscape.
This wasn't a light decision. We consulted with a very wide range of artists on its field use and their creative preferences and found around 80% of them were more inclined to sketch in landscape mode.
As you'd imagine, this has a significant impact on a lot of things which forced some significant redesigns, but I think the benefits will become very apparent in our subsequent post documenting the new functionality.
But if you're one of the people who prefers portrait, never fear, you can still sling it in portrait view with no issue - what this default orientation allowed us was slightly clearer guidelines when design trade-offs needed to be calculated.
A few artists gave feedback that the weight of the original Nomad was actually quite prohibitive for its small profile, and we agreed. Part of the reasoning behind removing the strap boards and replacing it with a better system for the Etchr Art Satchel was to reduce the weight - if you think about all rubber and material used to create them, it's a lot.
Another area where we were able to save significant weight was in replacing the acrylic board of the original art satchel with a stiff corrugated backing. This backing is braced by the tripod attachment plate in the rear compartment, allowing equivalent strength of the acrylic plate with much less weight.
These two changes mean that while the actual overall size of the bag is slightly larger, the weight has actually dropped by two thirds - so the Etchr Art Satchel weighs a third of the Nomad Art Satchel despite being larger and more awesome! Great news for people who are on the smaller side.
Here's the reading on a luggage scale:
- Nomad Art Satchel: 1.5kg / 3.3lbs
- Etchr Art Satchel: 0.5kg / 1.1lb
So that's where I'm going to end for now so you can get back to your busy lives - but before you go, let me know what you think! It's great to be back in touch <3
PS. Oh, btw, I had another kid. Here she is with me, my wife and her big bro Jax :D