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.
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?