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Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No!! It’s Digital Art!

by Melissa Gallo

If you are reading this article you are most likely on the cutting edge of artistic expression. The digital art world is a whole new arena in which to enact our artistic dreams. We can now twist, turn, crop, distort, colorize, fade and stretch our photos and artwork in ways unheard of only a few years back-and then add a little birdie in the upper left hand corner…all in record time.

I come from a long line of artists and painters. For over 20 years I worked for publishing houses in both New York and Milan as a paperback romance illustrator. That was before the digital age. I acutely remember finishing a painting in acrylics for publication and knowing that it was finished-really finished, with no corrections allowed. You couldn?t change anything on the painting because the acrylic paint was permanently cemented to the illustration board that I worked on…and “Control Z” did not exist!

So what?s the problem?” you say. “Isn?t it great that we have so much freedom with digital art?” Yep, except for the fact that the average consumer doesn?t know which end is up when it comes to the value of digital media in general. Being on the cutting edge is wonderful. However, “with great power comes great responsibility” and it is now OUR responsibility to educate the consumer and let them know that art and photography that is created digitally should not be valued as anything less than pieces executed with more traditional media.

It must be understood that there is a HUGE difference between “computer generated” material and art pieces that are created using the computer as a tool. When something is computer generated the computer has done the creating or the painting. However, when an artist justly uses the computer as his or her chosen medium in executing a piece, he must still rely on all his artistic skill and judgment.

Having worked as a traditional painter AND digital portrait artist, I can tell you that no one does the painting except me, in either case! Are my tools different for a digital painting? Yes. However, though I use the computer as my “canvas” and the graphics tablet and pen as my “brush”, I still need to know the principles of good composition, color and form. And believe it or not…I still need to know how to draw! The computer will not save you! What artists use as their tools should not define the worth of their work.

This is equally true for photographers. Whether you work with film or digital cameras, whether you use filters and other elements to embellish your images or not, it is the outcome that should matter. Many photographers are now incorporating layers of textures and design elements in their work, creating unique and amazing images. A huge body of work is being generated that defies all categorization, and this is the very essence and advantage of digital art. Photographers and artists are crisscrossing the lines between painting, photography and other forms of digital expression. Some are even painting by hand on top of their digital prints. All these pieces need to be evaluated on the merits of their sheer beauty and artistic expression, not on what medium was used.

Our clients should be as informed as we are about the wonderful and creative possibilities available to all digital artists of every category and genre in this digital age. Let?s get them excited about the new digital media and help them value and appreciate the fact that our own digital creations still come from our hearts, souls, minds and technical skills!

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Comments to: Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No!! It’s Digital Art!
  • Avatar
    October 10, 2012

    Thank you for expressing this so well. It will help many of us respond to the comments of many!

  • Avatar
    October 10, 2012

    Amazingly well said. Digital artistry has a long ways to go to being accepted for what it is! Like you, I use both traditional mediums and digital mediums…and there are days when get stuck (artistically) in either medium…I wish the computer WOULD just do it for me! Thanks!

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    October 17, 2012

    As the marketing director of a photography and graphic design studio, I greatly appreciate your beautifully worded insight on this issue – not only for our clients but also for ourselves. Sometimes, we have to be reminded that our talent is not the talent of the masses.

  • Avatar
    October 19, 2012

    Thank you, Melissa, for a concise and beautifully-written article. And I agree! My thought is that creating artwork with the computer allows a degree of looseness and creativity not possible with traditional media. While i paint and draw in the same way as before, I can be more at ease. Gone, at last, is the anxiety that one wrong move will lead to disastrous results destroying hours of work or an entire project. Im so looking forward to the day when digitally-created artwork will be as highly-regarded as all the rest.

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