What is Digital Art?
What is the difference between a digital service provider and a digital artist?
What is art?
Everyone has an opinion on what art is and what art is not, including me. I am a digital artist and yet I do not consider myself a "digital service provider". I know a digital service provider's website when I see it, and I know an artist run website when I see it. My clients do not always recognize the difference and yet time and time again I hear people tell me they have shopped around all over the web and they keep coming back to my site and want to hire me because they like what they see.
I am going to do my best to respectfully describe what a digital service provider is today and how that differs from a digital artist.
Digital Service Providers:
Websites that offer canvas on demand and "photo to print" services generally speaking are run by businessmen and women that may or may not have ever taken an art class. Sometime they hire a team of graphic designers to produce the portraits they sell. Sometimes they just hire young people that know how to use the computer and then they train them in Photoshop. The work they produce is usually what I call "filter driven". This is not a bad thing and when they have great photos to start with they often produce really lovely effects. I think for the money they charge, most of the larger sites like this probably do a pretty good job and deliver what they promise. They invest a lot of money in equipment and advertising however I do not believe that they invest a lot of money or research into the actual hiring of an educated design staff. This is only an opinion, however the reason I feel this way is that when you go to the "about" section on any of these types of websites you will not see the faces of the artists or designers that produce the work. When these sites have company blogs and you click through to them you will either find that nobody is updating the blog or worse the content is nothing more than one sales pitch after another. You never get a sense of who is going to work each day and who is going to be handling your project. Many times you will see a long list of celebrity client names on some of these sites, but nobody is bragging about the hired artists that are producing the work.
I have a fine arts degree and many digital artists do, however not all. I am actually self taught in Photoshop because I graduated college before computers were a part of every art department. So if a piece of paper does not make you a digital artist then what does? I think everyone has to answer that one for themselves, but for me the answer is simple ... pushing the boundaries and experimentation. Sometimes my work can start to feel repetitive and so I always have to remind myself to try new things in Photoshop, to look at projects from new angles and to experiment outside of work with a variety of all types of media from drawing to glass mosaics. I find my personal artwork totally fuels my excitement for my portraiture work, and vice versa. I could say that my use of the wacom drawing tablet is what makes me a digital artist, but it is not, it is just a tool and your tools do not make you an artist. I am proud to be a digital artist and I feel blessed to have so many terrific clients that support me in my work.
The point of this post is not to totally bash digital service providers, I think most of them work really hard and are very good at what they do. They provide a fast and affordable service. If you have a stunning photograph of your pet and you just need someone to get it onto canvas for you there are tons of great options on-line and you do not need an artist to do that for you. I guess the point of this post is to start a dialogue with myself about what it is that I do, and what it is that separates my art offerings from everything else that is out there. After over reacting to a negative comment by another artist this weekend I have started thinking about my business, and why I love it and how my art is different from other digital work that is out there. Eventually I want to update my website with much better written content that will educate perspective clients about what I do. The blog is a great place to start that dialogue for myself, and not everything that rambles onto this page has to make it on to the main site ... thank goodness for that.