Is this art? Pixels vs paintbrushes

Art has come a long way in recent years - since da Vinci's Mona Lisa and the phenomenal Pablo Picasso. But how does traditional art hold up in the modern age of technology?

Is this art? Pixels vs paintbrushes

Visual art in the past has been highly influential to our culture - from the old Egyptian paintings to the swirly-wirly world of Vincent Van Gogh (I'm sure he'd love that adjective). My favourite artist from the past happens to be Van Gogh himself - a fantastic and revolutionary artist of his time, his use of colours really transformed the French landscape as it was then known. It's such a shame that he was ignored by the critics at the time, when art was seen as a middle-class privilege.

Nowadays, it seems that much art is tampered with on Photoshop, or created from scratch on some other computer program. But, should that mean it's bad? Modern visual artists like Daniel Conway (highly underrated) have gained a large online cult following due to the versatility of their work. Conway's work, for instance, is well known for the focussed details and abstract sci-fi/fantasy elements. Perhaps digital art is more inclusive, far more open to all sorts of styles of artwork, and therefore more accessible.

Of course, you get the traditionalists who argue that with digital you lose the originality of the work. It's easy to replicate other people's work without notice; therefore it makes you question if art you see and hear is actually real or fake. You also lose the directness of the hand of the artist - the paintbrush swapped out for the keyboard and trackpad.

However, it seems like Digital art production helps to break down artistic boundaries that traditional art has sometimes failed to do, allowing endless experimentation and the potential for discovering new styles. It's also foolish to ignore the fact that art has always existed to comment on life, and the current cultural mood. How can you ignore on of humanity's main tools of communication - the digital world - as an artist? Computer software, Photoshop, data...these all provide our lives with tools to communicate in new ways, why should our artists ignore that part of their toolkit? You have a wide range of digital tools at the click of the mouse - options are limitless!

On a lighter note, traditional art is pretty damn messy - paint in hair, paint in clothes, paint on hands, paint in certain parts of the body that paint shouldn't be, and then when you make a mistake there's no going back. Sad times… Digital Art hardly has any problems. For instance, in Photoshop, you have an undo button at hand whenever you're stuck or screwing up. Van Gogh certainly didn't have that.

Like human beings, art has evolved and changed throughout history, and like humans it must adapt in order to survive. Whilst we do appreciate the past and how it's been influential, we can't all stick to the same style - it gets boring after a while. Art is art at the end of the day, and it is an extremely important part of our identity, whether through pencil, canvas, or Microsoft paint.


Luke Taylor

Luke Taylor Contributor

I work as the Network Administrator for Voice. Having completed my apprenticeship at Unit Twenty Three, I continue my work supporting Voice and the Youth Network in whatever way possible. Music is my passion, and I will happily talk about all the bands you've probably never heard of!

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  • Bhavesh Jadva

    On 16 March 2016, 14:09 Bhavesh Jadva Voice Team commented:

    I think here is where I stand: if digital tools are used to alter other art - be the original physical or digital itself - then that artefact is and the use of the tool to do that is no longer art (be it a creative process). But, as is with all art, if the digital tool is used to create something which is an expression of the creator and/or tells a story, then the tool has created art.

    Photoshop, Illustrator, Pixlr etc. are as time-consuming, laborious, and have as much of a learning curve as a painting is/does, in my opinion!

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