Updated: Aug 1, 2020
I recently stumbled upon an Open Call for artists. A local gallery is putting on a 'Coaster' exhibit and I thought, 'coaster art, cool. I am so in!' That is, until I read the 'fine print'.
The gallery ONLY accepts analogue techniques, not even digital photography is an acceptable medium. *Gasp*. And this is not the first time I've come across this edict from the art snobs.
You see, there persists a school of thought in the art world that digital art isn't 'real art' simply because it's made by computer. As a digital artist, just as creative as any analogue artist, I take serious issue with that belief. While some will agree that a filter layer over a photograph qualifies as digital art, it's so much more than that. So permit this, another divisive article; left vs. right, black vs. white, mask vs. no mask, digital vs. analogue.
At one time I used traditional methods for creating artwork and enjoyed it; buying the supplies and setting them up (although I hated the clean up). There was also the act of holding a paintbrush and the smell of the paints (intoxicating, like the smell of darkroom chemicals), the things a tactile person like myself find extremely gratifying. After choosing a career in graphic design, my creative focus and the tools of creation shifted. In those early years the graphics programs simply did not have the level of sophistication they have today. Now that they do, and getting better still, it begged the question, 'Why not go digital?' And here is where I lay out the pros and cons.
The Pros: I'm never out of supplies when I need them most; while in the act of creating. There's no clean-up involved. I can undo a mistake, no fuss, no muss. I can easily take my 'studio' with me wherever I go. I can make an artwork in under 2 hours due to my extensive knowledge of creative apps. For a person like myself who has limited living space, it's the best option. And at this time in history, when it's all about the virtual, this is a digital artist's time to shine.
The Cons: It can be quite expensive printing the pieces and we have less control over the outcome when outsourcing. While I can take my studio everywhere, it's not very impressive as a demo technique. Like, who really wants to stand behind someone and watch them create a piece of art on a computer. Bo-ring. While some techno-geeks might like to view a tutorial on method, the visual can be a bit cold and clinical in person.
The most likely reason analogue artists, fine art connoisseurs and gallery owners scoff at digital art is the tendency for a piece to look produced rather than created. The presentation can be flat...perfect for monitors, less impressive hanging on gallery walls. This is where use of texture, lighting manipulation, layer effects and printing medium can make the difference.
In this piece, 'Flamenka', many visitors at my last art show asked if it was painted on wood. That visitors actually thought it was 'painted' is a testament to my knowledge of
digital effects and use of texture. For a digital artist, texture is the grand illustionist, the media manipulator. The master of the 'lie' (I'm being dramatic).
Here are a few of my pieces that are often mistaken for watercolor medium. That art enthusiasts (enthusiasts, not snobs....haha) can't tell the difference between my digital
watercolor and an actual watercolor painting is a compliment to my technique and I don't take that lightly. Because it's the enthusiasts I like cultivating. Art for art's sake. Art that doesn't ask you to match the decor or furniture. Art that won't ask you to take a 2nd on your mortgage just for the satisfaction of hanging it on your wall. (I'm being dramatic again and just as scathing as the analogues).
So for those of you who are contemplating a career (or hobby) in fine digital art, I say go for it. So what if we use gaming mouses and styluses rather than paintbrushes and paint is replaced by pixels. Power supply, or lack of, is the only real enemy of the digital tribe. We're hip, we're edgy, we're cheeky, we're fun, we're the rogue wave of art (or so I like to tell myself in moments of overly-inflated ego). Don't let the 'analogues' rain on your parade. Create that digital art and OWN IT. Say it loud and proud: I'm a digital artist, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore! Or something to that dramatic effect.
On the other hand, just have fun creating. I certainly do and take pride in it, because it's my firm belief that anything created digitally can be just as stunning as its traditionally created counterpart.
Artwork shown in this article: 'Flamenka', 'Cleaning House', Portrait of Layla', 'Surf City in Retrograde'. Prints can be purchased from the artist's website: www.thesketchiebeast.art/SHOP