Hi guys, I wanted to take a minute today and talk about traditional art vs digital art. There seems to be an concept out there that digital art is not “real art”. I started out as a completely traditional artist using mediums like acrylics, watercolors and copic markers for my illustrations. I loved the process of creating. It’s an intensely meditative process. The routine of getting out the paints, setting up the workspace and canvases and then getting into a real flow state where I would get lost for a few hours of the day. It was really rewarding to come away with a print or canvas that had taken hours, sometimes days or weeks to create. I think the transition for me really began out of necessity. After having kids, it became a lot harder to immerse my self in the creative process without ending up with my toddlers covered in paint and art supplies. As well, the process was intensely time consuming which was not a bad thing for holidays or the odd weekend but as a wife, mum, teacher, and designer, time was not a luxury I could easily afford. Ensuring the workflow of my business continued to run efficiently required a new strategy to ensure that I could create my patterns and illustrations for my business more rapidly. I realized that I needed to start to speed up my workflow and be more streamlined in my production.
I think years ago when digital art was beginning, it got a bad rap because the process was very clunky. Learning digital art on a desktop computer was like teaching yourself a whole new language that consisted of CTRL + (insert the keyboard symbol) to get even the most basic illustrations made. For someone used to working with paints and their hands, it was just another world that I didn’t have the time to learn from scratch. Add to that, digital art at the time looked… unrealistic and a tad artificial. Either too cartoony, or too polished or hyper-realistic in a way that made you think “Never in a million years could I create that. I’d better give up now!” For me, it lacked that beautiful imperfection of sketchy hand drawn style or the unexpected happy accidents of paints mixing unpredictably or creating spontaneous abstract designs. The only real options that were available were also desktop art software like the Adobe creative suite which is amazing in its own right but very difficult to transition to when you have been creating traditional art for decades. Needless to say, I was on the side of giving digital illustration a hard pass and sticking to my sketch journal and paints.
Then, one day, a few years ago, ipads started showing up on my radar as I researched tools for digital art. Now I must say, like many parents in my orbit, my first thought was “Aren’t ipad kids toys that we use to keep them entertained on long car trips?” Thankfully, the more I researched the more I realized how wrong I was and what an amazing tool had just been released to the general public and the creative world in the form of Ipad pro’s. Apple had recently started releasing new models called Ipad Pro’s which were just starting to break through in the chatter in creative forums. The beauty of the addition of the apple pencil was that it introduced a whole new dimension to the use of the ipad as a productivity and a design tool. A myriad of app companies jumped on board and begun to create incredible apps that allowed you to use the ipad as a notebook, daily planner, art studio and much more. I could now use this pressure sensitive stylus to do anything that you could imagine creating with pen and paper and art supplies on one device. My mind was officially blown.
The apps that had been created for the ipad pro were equivalent to the desktop programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator which allowed you to make professional quality layered illustrations in both raster and vector formats. They allowed you to complete the entire process from sketch to final design all on one device and have it ready to print from one device. No more creating art work, and then having to scan , color correcting, fix up imperfections, and vectorize(when needed) to create print ready files to send to clients. I could also create an entire repeat pattern for fabric on a device that fitted into my handbag. The impact it had on saving time in my workflow was astounding. I hope you are getting a sense of what a game changer this was for me. The best part was how it fitted into my life so that there was no dead time in my life. If I was waiting for my girls to finish a dance class, instead of mindlessly scrolling on social media, I could be working on a creative piece. I could capture inspiration anywhere I went. A flower, and interesting color combination and immediately save it in a digital mood board and then flesh that out into a fabric collection when time allowed.
In addition, art apps like Procreate, Affinity designer, Affinity photo and iOrnament allowed me to create industry standard professional work, and were a one off low cost payment with no ongoing subscription fees. They also allowed me to work in traditional mediums like pastels, copic, watercolor paint and acrylics and the product was indistinguishable from what I could create on paper or canvas. For detailed work and vector style illustration, digital art enabled my work to have a very polished end product. Now you may assume, given this whole new world opening up that I would have abandoned traditional art. The answer is no. The reality is there is a place for both. Most of my designs begin with sketches on paper and are imported into my ipad to flesh out. Many of the digital brushes and textures I use in my artwork are based on traditional brush strokes imported into these apps to create brushes the look and feel like the real deal. So, at the end of the day its not one over the other but rather how these mediums can now work together to give us the opportunities to diversify our creativity as artists and streamline our workflow. To combine mediums and layers and experiment which is the basis of what makes art so unique. Have a great day people and stay tuned for my reviews on my favorite apps for artists that are transitioning into the digital sphere.