Traditional Art vs Digital Art

I recently watched a special on cable about the history of Pixar. The story evolves as John Lasseter tries to introduce computer animation to Disney, only to find them bewildered by the whole idea. He starts Pixar to follow his dream, and the industry of computer animated movies takes the world by storm. Strangely, as the traditional animators see the success of computer animation, they begin to abandon the traditional arts. As I see it, the medium doesn’t really matter. It is all about content, content, content. Pixar‘s recent film, “Ratatouille”, is beautiful graphically, but it is also a very entertaining and well developed story. I do not believe it invalidates the hand drawn “Jungle Book”, it is simply a different art medium.

I see a similar battle brewing between traditional art and digital art. Digital art seems to be winning on sci-fi and game art, but that whole genre doesn’t seem to be well supported in the established world of art. I find this odd in that most traditionally painted art these days is scanned into digital form and sold in quantity as “limited edition prints”. Something that really drove this home for me, I recently ran across a web site or “club” where users could join and submit their artwork. Digitally produced artwork was not permitted. Now it’s their club, they can make whatever rules they want, but again I believe beautiful art is beautiful art. Oils, watercolors, acrylics, digital are all just different vehicles for true artists to tell their stories on canvas. Just looking at the beautiful digital work of Philip Straub, Ryan Church, or Katarina Sokolova makes my point. Is there work art?

I have been giving this a lot of thought, because I make my living as a concept designer and artist. I began my career using traditional oil paints. For many years, however, I have been working digitally. My question: will my career as an artist be stifled by the establishment because it is digital, or will I follow in the trend Pixar set and enjoy the benefits of a new medium?

My belief – art should stand or fall on the merit of it’s content, and not the choice of art medium.


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