There are many apps that can be used to create backgrounds, logos, and other graphics. Usually, the better the output, the more expensive the program. Photoshop comes to mind as the perfect example of one of these apps -- it's pricey, but it can do just about anything in terms of creating graphics.
Let me turn your attention to a new app that has just appeared in the Mac app store. It's called Logoist, and it's a toolkit for creating company logos, letterheads, backgrounds -- just about anything graphical. It's on sale at an introductory half-off price of US$19.99.
When you launch the program you're greeted by about a hundred possible designs, but you can start with a blank sheet of paper and do your own designs. You have complete control of text, with effects like glass, drop shadows, borders, rotation -- all the things you would expect. You can create borders, backgrounds, and even access more than 3000 built-in vector-based pieces of clip-art and then modify them to meet your needs. When your creation is complete, it can be exported in native Photoshop format at 600 dpi. Of course, you can also export in formats supported by Pages, Keynote, MS Office or pretty much any other app that supports basic graphic standards. The app also supports Auto Save and Full Screen Mode in Lion.
In practice, the app worked quite well. I was able to quickly create some stunning logos with multiple layers with little effort. My only real complaint about the app is that it has a learning curve. The help system deals with specific features, but never gives instructions on how to start from scratch with a blank page. Most users will figure it out after a bit of trial and error, but some things just aren't readily apparent. I've discussed this issue with the developer, and he says videos are on the way.
Logoist is a very clever program, and perfect for someone who needs to create unique graphic elements for a business or a presentation. It has a lot of power while being easy on your wallet. Yes, there are other ways to create these kinds of graphics, but Logoist is low in cost and very high in power and features. I think the app is worthy of consideration if you find yourself needing custom graphics and don't want to buy canned clipart or designs from someone else.
Logoist is a 78 MB download and requires OS X 10.6 or greater. Check the gallery below for some of my admittedly modest designs.