Is Digital Art Cheating? – an actual blog post since I guess I have a blog that I don’t blog on and should fix that

I was at a party where many art majors were present last night.

I tend to sit in a corner and hangout with the person who invited me at these sorts of gatherings since I don’t drink. There was a lively debate running at a table I was near, and it caught my attention. There was a man arguing that digital art took literally no skill and that while it may take some time to learn the tools, was essentially the technician version of being a radiologist (technician is a good job, so he was already off base with the analogy).

So me and my friend both took issue with this and told him so. He kinda laughed because I guess I don’t look all that cool. Now I mean my main qualm was his assertion that someone couldn’t be both a digital artist and someone who could use a pencil. Now I use pens, which have a reputation for being significantly less wieldy than pencils (look ma, no eraser). So I told him that I do digital art and think I can also illustrate semi-competently.

Do I consider myself a professional or expert? No, absolutely not, and I hope I never think I’m an expert because that’s when you have hit your cap. I don’t ever wanna stop learning or improving because that progress is what drives me to make art in the first place. But do I think I can draw most things I’d want to? Yeah, I could attempt it and do an alright job probably. But it’s all practice.

So he told me to prove it, and I’m like “okay”.

I showed him this, which is multimedia, granted, but the digital and traditional portions are distinct. It was a traditional drawing that I later redid the background in illustrator.

Hunger Demon7

His response: “Pfft, that’s low art.”

My friend flipped on him there, asked him to share his high art. I was already uncomfortable with his insult, because I worked hard on this and never intended to sell it because it was art for something personal, which I think is what art should be for. It was the fourth drawing I did when I started drawing again early last year during a very difficult time in my life. This piece meant something to me, and art should mean something to you when you make it. This piece depicts bulimia nervosa and OCD which are both worth depicting, because they are brutal disorders.

If you really think you can honestly look at any drawing or piece of art and determine in five seconds whether or not it is low (has no meaning or minimal low-brow value/appeal) or high (has meaning and value), then you don’t know how art works.

So, he showed us a picture from a gallery of a large painting with an abstract horse thing as the subject. And it was good, in my opinion. I’m a sucker for abstract and impressionism. I told him I liked it and he seemed kinda self satisfied and my friend looked at me like what’s wrong with you. But I wasn’t gonna lie and say I didn’t like it to be bitter, I mean then I’d be like him; toxic.

Anyway. I left with her pretty quick after that, didn’t want to be around the negativity I’d associated with the room and party. I felt kind of bad until I thought about it more and realized that his attitude will ultimately prevent him from learning and getting better and that’s what’s sad…That he needs to shit on other peoples hard work and throw around “low art” when he doesn’t even understand the context of something.


I thought about the question more and here’s my answer:

I don’t think either is better, I think they are different and similar, but one is not better or a “lower” form of art. Traditional is hard because you don’t have a perfect eraser or perfect paper that never breaks. It’s easier to add than take away. This limitation is ninety-nine% mitigated in digital art, but now you have to either drop two-thousand on a flagship cintiq or struggle to draw lines with a mouse or low quality tablet. TABLET DRAWING IS SO HARD THAT I DRAW WITH A MOUSE.

Yes, I draw with a mouse and attempt to draw lines with a mouse. This is part of what makes digital art challenging, the images are not auto generated, you still have to make these things. And when you’re using composites it’s a whole different beast to blend disparate images together, it’s heavier and hard shading to do that than to draw a face in my experience.

But I love both because they look different and are unique. I can’t draw something that looks traditional in Photoshop and I can’t draw hyper-realism on traditional mediums. (I can composite backgrounds in after scanning via multimedia techniques though).

I feel like art is up against enough when we artists aren’t trying to eat up each others confidence, you know?





7 thoughts on “Is Digital Art Cheating? – an actual blog post since I guess I have a blog that I don’t blog on and should fix that

  1. the most innovative artists of sny era were considered to be hacks. Van Gogh, Ver Meer, Gauguin, monet.

    Without “low art” there would be no innovation. Ignore the black turtlenecking, white wine swilling pretension and stay true to your art.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I thoroughly enjoy when other artists try to make their art superior to others. That’s a telltale sign of their own insecurities in their production of said pieces. I remember when I was in high school and the teacher had an artist stop and show off his work which was a lot of tree painting and art. I thought he would appreciate my art of graphite trees and the occasional werewolf sitting under but he put me down. Saying it was childish.

    I told him the only childish thing that occurred was me thinking he was someone I could look up to because or teacher said his art was ‘true art’. I also told him that they were both wrong and his trees were lines on canvas bolstered by his ignorance and pride. My teacher was appalled and removed me from class. I went on to be the youngest student accepted in an experimental art program where one of my professors said that the artist that visited that day was a hack.

    The moral of the story…keep doing you. I enjoy your art and appreciated the thought and effort that goes into each piece and there are many others. If people understood better it’s a window to our souls when we put our art out there for the world. Sorry for the long comment but keep doing you without explanations or anyone making you think you are any less of an artist than they.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the thoughtful reply, it made me feel a lot more comfortable about the situation!

      I can’t imagine a teacher or even a guest speaker saying such terrible things. I mean you’re a student and it’s his job to teach you, not dismiss you and what you’ve accomplished. He should have been focusing on using his knowledge to provide perspective into avenues on how you could improve.

      Also werewolves are dope so screw that guy. Thanks again for the thoughts and encouragement 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow, I’m amazed that he had the nerve to call it “low art” to your face. That takes a special kind of arrogance. As the other posters said, definitely ignore him…he’s an Art Blowhard.

    I don’t know much about art, but I do know two things: 1) I know what I like, and 2) I know which mediums/techniques would be challenging for me (thus requiring skill). To make judgments when he isn’t even familiar with what you know, or spent time looking at what/how you’ve created is just so ridiculous.

    Art is obviously very subjective, and it’s a shame when people treat it like a math formula. Maybe some day, this dude will learn that there isn’t a “right” and “wrong.” If your art reaches people and brings enjoyment (or other emotions), then it has shown its quality. In the eyes of people it impacts, however it does so and regardless of how it was created, it’s “good” and worth something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, there’s a certain part of the art culture/community that can be really negative. It’s weird to me because none of the art professors I’ve met seem to agree with that paradigm and they are generally pretty open and accepting people.

      I think he was just a mean and insecure person and needed to rationalize or reconcile that insecurity to feel superior.

      I really appreciate your two cents here, it makes me feel a lot more comfortable with the situation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sure thing – I mean, what the guy said is just so laughable to me. The lion over book pages, the guy in the headdress, the girl driving…these are seriously impressive pieces of art. The talent and skill is right there on display! Well, regardless at least you have an audience, and people who want to see what you create can do that. I say keep up the good work!

        Liked by 1 person

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