"Isn't Digital art cheating"

I get asked this a lot, “Is digital art real art?”

You can imagine how prickly I get when asked this question because clearly, they simply don’t understand the process of being an artist. The most shocking thing is, that question came from another artist.

I think the misconception people have is that all digital art is just the manipulation of photos, or that there isn’t any creativity or talent. Worse still is the idea that as a digital artist we could “cheat” (not my words) and just trace over an image. But you can do the same with paper & pencil and still create new imaginative creative designs. 

The judgments made towards digital artists is that we can’t paint or draw in the conventional sense and that’s why we prefer to create digitally, the insulting thing is that we didn’t always have access to tablets or software such as Procreate or Adobe Illustrator.  

Although not new, digital art still requires the same skills, we still need to understand colour theory, perspective and placement. We still need to be able to draw so we can translate our inspiration and creativity into a finished piece. For some, using a tablet in any particular moment is easier than digging out the acrylic paints. Digital art lends itself to those of us who have to create the moment inspiration strikes, those of us on the move without the time to set up a canvas or an easel.  

Then there is the usual follow up comment, “As a proper artist you can’t undo a mistake”. This always makes me laugh. Of course you can! I also paint in the ‘traditional’ sense, and just the other day, I painted a field of poppies on canvas with acrylic paint while totally getting the flower perspective wrong. After an hour I decided I had to cut my losses and either start again or paint over the poppies with larger ones. A mistake soon rectified.

Now there are some acceptable criticisms of digital art. The one I believe is the most genuine is that each ‘real life’ painting is unique. It is a one of a kind creation shaped by the moment and emotions. Whereas a digital art work can be reprinted in any format, duplicated or shared online with ease, that being said there are advantages to both, there is a reason artists sell prints of their work.

I paint both digitally and traditionally, using my iPad to start a project the minute I’m inspired and the artwork truly grips me I will often repaint the design onto a canvas. I use my iPad when I want to paint anywhere, anytime, even in the middle of a party or in a waiting room. Sitting and getting messy with paints has to be planned and isn’t always practical in the moment. That being said, it is immensely satisfying when I take the time to do this.

I have been an artist for nearly 40 years, I certainly didn’t start with iPad in hand. So next time you see the words digital art in front of a painting you love, remember it requires as much effort as an original traditional piece.

The other bonus about digtial art, it records your progress. This is always great when you want to sell your art. Your customers love to see how it is made. watching the paint strokes as they happen. These are three paintings I created and uploaded to my you tube channel.

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