What is ‘Digital Art?’ It’s an artistic work that uses digital technology as part of the creative process to produce digital fine art prints. It has been around longer than we think! Since the 1960s, various names have been used to describe the process, including computer art and multimedia art. ‘Digital Art,’ or as it is more broadly described today ‘Media Art,’ is essentially the use of digital tools to produce a creative work. Tools such as a mouse or tablet, in combination with drawing software, such as Procreate or Adobe Illustrator are an example.
The term ‘Digital Art’ was first used in the early 1980s when computer engineers devised a paint program which was used by the pioneering British-born artist Harold Cohen (1928 – 2016). This evolved into a device known as ‘AARON,’ a robotic machine designed to make large drawings on sheets of paper placed on the floor. Digital Art was born and you can view online my selection of digital fine art prints.
The first computer art came in the mid-1960s. Kenneth C. Knowlton, born 1931, a computer graphics pioneer, artist, mosaicist and portraitist, transformed a photo of a woman into an image made of computer pixels, or individual pieces of a graphic that when put together create a whole image.
Andy Warhol created digital art using a Commodore Amiga where the computer was publicly introduced at the Lincoln Center in New York in 1985. An image of Debbie Harry, an American singer, songwriter and actress, best known as the lead vocalist of the band Blondie, was captured in monochrome from a video camera and digitised into a graphics program called ProPaint. Warhol manipulated the image adding colour by using flood fills. The resulting images are iconic and have been widely acknowledged as some of the first mainstream Digital Art.
Although Digital Art is not yet recognised as a distinct movement in and of itself, as technology continues to flourish into contemporary society, there seems to be a strong notion within the Digital Art community that it has greatly broadened the creative opportunities available to professional and non-professional artists alike. There are pros and cons, and strong opinions, on digital versus traditional medium techniques within the art circles. No doubt discussions will continue, but we will continue to see the Digital Art world unfold as a credible alternative to traditional means of art making for a post-millennial society.
My first Digital Art series was the ‘California Coastal Series,’ a series inspired by the retro travel poster, and my return visit to California in 2020. It was created using the Procreate Drawing App. My IPad Pro and Apple Pencil, packed carefully in my suitcase, travelled with me on my journey as I sketched some of my favourite, and most memorable places, from when I lived in the area between 2008 and 2017.
Using the Procreate App really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities media art has to offer. Digital art compliments my graphic inspired style, and the tools available allow me to draw with precision by creating clean sharp lines. I continue to enjoy creating with traditional art using media like oil-on-canvas and pencil-on-paper illustrations, but I’m excited to join the fast moving digital world to create colourful art. I look at digital media as an approach that will allow me to be more creative, more outrageous, unique or refined in the designs of my art, as the mood takes me. With just one click you can undo, or redo your work! Forgiving technology and endless creativity…what more can an artist want!