Is Digital Art an Art Form? by Alido Rodriguez


            With the birth of the Internet, art began to make a slow transition into digital format.  Although many artists prefer the physical, textural art forms, the digital era of art is growing rapidly.  Some artists have learned to adapt to the new environment, learning new skills and techniques while others refuse to embrace this new form of art.  Some people have argued whether digital art can even be considered as an art form.  In my opinion it is, and I will try and prove it in this essay.

            Art, defined by Dictionary.com, is “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance” and also “any field using the skills or techniques of art: advertising art; industrial art” (Dictionary.com, 2012).  In other words, art is based on how much effort a person puts into a work to make it beautiful.  It can be as effortless as paint dripping off of a brush of Jackson Pollock or as time consuming as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.  Beauty is a subjective term and in my opinion really serves no purpose in the definition because what is beautiful to me might not be beautiful to someone else.  So art has a certain quality to it, it takes time to make, and it expresses some sort of emotion or imagination.

It is definitely easier to see that someone who uses materials and pays money for supplies puts more effort in their work.  Many artists face financial problems due to the prices of materials.  Art made with paints and watercolor need to be planned and processed before started.  Errors need to be accounted for ahead of time to prevent them from occurring during the actual process.  This doesn’t even cover the skill needed to produce brilliant works.  Hand control, proper shading and lighting, blending, and knowing what brushes to use.  These are just a few things that might serve as an obstacle for a normal painter.

Just because it takes more work does not mean the easier method isn’t art.  Digital art is much easier in many ways.  There are layers to work on, that allow you to separate sections of a painting, making it easier to fix and mistake.  Almost any mistake can be fixed digitally.  Don’t like the outcome of a certain piece of work?  Start a new one without spending a penny on supplies.  There are an unlimited number of supplies and you can never run out of ink.  I can’t forget to mention that with a few clicks of the mouse, you can add the same shading quality to every item in any piece of art, given that each object is on its own layer.  We can compare each form all we want but it’s time to get into proving that digital art is a form of art.

Being a graphic artist, or graphic designer, or simply a person who likes to use Photoshop and is beginning to enjoy Illustrator as well, I feel the need to prove that what I plan on doing is an actual art form.  Everything I make or manipulate is from inside of me.  Every pencil mark I make on a piece of sketch paper comes from the same place as every shape I create using a computer program.  To me, it doesn’t matter what foundation you use or what medium you build on, it’s about how you present your work.

What presents a problem in the digital art world is the lack of creativity and originality.  Is it really art if you can simply take someone else’s work and simply manipulate the colors with Photoshop?  Are you really an artist if everyone can make the same exact web layout as you, devaluing your skills and creativity?  Once you post something on the Internet, what you made is no longer yours.  The digital realm is something that is filled with problems.  Everything that is created digitally is called quickly ragged on as being easy to make and people don’t understand the value.

Digital art is in fact an art form.  Video games are becoming more life-like due to the extensive work of digital animators.  The people behind the facial features in a video game are digital artists.  You can make a living off of YouTube videos as a graphic designer.  Alexander Koshelkov is one of the best at photo-manipulations through Photoshop.  Maxon’s Cinema 4D software has jumpstarted a lot of new 3D modeling artists’ careers.  Last but not least, it takes a great deal of knowledge to fully understand how to build and create a web layout that is unique and stands out from the rest.  It takes more than just a template to understand digital art.  There is much more to digital art than simply changing colors and themes.  Digital art can be just as time consuming as tradition art and requires just as much knowledge.

If we were to filter out the people that say they are digital artists from the people that really are digital artists, we can all understand that digital art is in fact an art form and requires just as much knowledge and creativity and planning as a traditional artists.  Artists like Evan Eckard have made transitions from traditional to digital and is in fact allowing us to join him on his journey in learning new forms of technology such as a Wacom tablet, a digital tablet used to draw on with a stylus.  Although art can be replicated and created much easier digitally, it still takes the right mind and imagination to create a work of art.

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