May I Rant About Digital Art Please?

I've started digitally "inking" the sketch from my last post in Illustrator & thought you might like to take a look at my progress. You can see from the scan of the original sketch (acting as template) that I've made a few adjustments...eyebrows lower, eyes smaller, nose narrower, jawline fuller...but basically it's the same gal! Eventually, she's going to be gocco printed on vintage paper & become part of a mixed media piece. I'll show you when it's done!

Anyway, the painstaking task of vectoring my sketch got me thinking about digital art & its reputation amongst traditional artists.

I hang around the Etsy forums waaay more than I should (when I'm supposed to be working!) & have been frustrated on a number of occasions by peoples' attitude towards digital art. I'm referring to the viewpoint that digital art is somehow less legitimate than traditional art. What's particularly frustrating, is when the people who hold this opinion know nothing about digital process whatsoever.

There seems to be this misconception that digital art is just a few mere magical mouse-clicks away! Also that it's somehow inferior because it's not "handmade" (the Etsy catch cry) & is "cold" & "soulless".

Well, I can tell you now, I use the same pair of hands, set of eyes & brain to make digital artwork as I do when using paint, ink or pencil. Furthermore, digital techniques are not as intuitive as putting pencil to paper - it's not so easy to just pick it up & hit the ground running - it took me a very long time to fully grasp the technical aspect of making pictures digitally & to finally be able to accurately render the ideas in my head. This is all contrary to the commonly held opinion that digital art is somehow easier to make than traditional art, that it takes less time, talent & skill.

And back to the "handmadeness" aspect again... Despite the fact that I've just argued that in its own way, digital art is just as "hands on" as traditional art, I just want to add that technique & craftsmanship are only part of the picture when it comes to making art. What about the more cerebral considerations: developing your concept, making your colour choices, composition, subject matter, & all those other decisions you make about how best to render your ideas? I think, especially on Etsy, with its fixation on "handmade", that some artists get so caught up with the craftsmanship of making art that they forget the conceptual side is equally important. Maybe if they considered this, they'd start to understand that computers are no different to any other tool.

I guess part of the reason digital art still gets a raw deal is because it's still relatively new, but why not embrace whatever tools & technologies are at hand? Once upon a time, the camera obscura was seen as the devil's work, & there are techniques & media embraced by the art world these days, that were once considered too "lowbrow" or commercial.

I'm a believer in using whatever it takes to communicate your ideas, whether it be a charred stick on a cave wall or a MacBook Pro.