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March 7th, 2012 #1
convincing Fine art Professors of digital validity?
This semester I found one professor who would let me work digitally. It's helped me really focus in on honing my digital painting ability. Which has been great!
However, I'm not so sure the rest of the faculty shares the same mindset.
So, I submitted a painting for the student show. This one specifically:
The idea was to project the image onto the wall. Hence the frame. It's yielded nice results in the past considering the size I was able to project it at.
It did not make the cut into the show. I asked for feedback and was told "Well, when we see it, it begs the question: Why not just paint it on canvas?"
That was their hangup. Which honestly was expected. But I think to myself "Why NOT paint it digitally? It's different seeing a projection."
Unfortunately they took it as just projecting a painting when you could have actually painted it. But I did? Idk.
Anyway, do you guys have any suggestions on how to validate this medium in the fine art world?
I intend to pursue a career initially as an illustrator/ concept artist. But I don't want to be pigeon holed as just that. I think it would be nice to be part of a new frontier in the gallery world.
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March 7th, 2012 #3
March 7th, 2012 #4
If scholarship money is riding on it I wouldn't mess around...do whatever they are requiring. You're not going to convince them otherwise and it isn't worth the effort anyway. Digital is just as legitimate in the fine art world as any other media...depending on who you ask. And that is the problem you will always encounter.
Edit: On the other hand...your image isn't doing anything it would be difficult to do with physical painting, which doesn't give you as much ground to stand on, except your preference. Android Jones can make the argument that his imagery is due to the media he uses...in other words you really couldn't get those effects, detail and layering in other media...at least not very easily.
March 7th, 2012 #5
I just had a talk with the president of the Illustration department about this at my school yesterday because I'm switching majors to Fine Art and I'd like to pursue a career in fine art but I like to work digitally. Basically it all comes down to your customer base. You have to be able to convince someone that your work is of value (and worth buying) despite the fact that it's digital. Andrew is a good example because he's mostly a fine artist yet works exclusively digitally. He is shown in only the most cutting edge galleries that cater to digital and visionary art. He found his niche in the fine art market. Also his paintings have been printed in very extravagant and impressive ways such as on glass, on mirrors, on sculpted surfaces, holographically, and with 3D glasses, all of which are very creatively solutions to the problem of "how can I convince the audience that a digital piece is worth buying?"
An alternative is to print it onto stretched canvas, after painting some of it digitally, and then paint over it in oils or acrylic.
As for this piece, I would write an essay to your school describing exactly why you chose to paint it digitally instead of with traditional media. Make the argument that digital media is just as valid as traditional media and that it's not the medium that determines the value of an artwork. The jurors here are definitely close minded but it's in your power to change that.
What school is this, by the way?
March 7th, 2012 #6
The main reason I think Andrew's work is especially relevant here is because last I saw him, he was talking about the way he's set up 3D space with projection paintings at his little villages at The Burning man, as well as doing all of the particle setups that the King of Abu Dubai -paid- him to do on the presentation of his debut-ant daughter. He used the Sydney Opera house as a canvas last year as a canvas for his particle shows. You will even soon be able to buy holographic prints of his work, which look amazing in person. I have a couple.
The point is that he's used the digital medium to expand the limits and find new ways to display and project the art, and that's where the legitimacy comes from. I can see the point of saying 'Well not you're not breaking any new ground, so you might as well do it traditionally' because as far as you're not using your new technology to push even further, then it ends up coming off as mediocrity. Which is not to say it's not a great painting, but I'm trying to see into the scrutiny of your peers.
With that in mind, perhaps you could have had it as a light projection on sculpture, or a hand-painted animated looping film - somehow taking advantage of the fact that you're working in a medium that achieves something that traditional can't.
Last edited by Beeston; March 7th, 2012 at 02:08 PM.
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March 7th, 2012 #7
If you want to do this you will need to know how to speak the language of "fine art". Generally when we speak in terms of painting, sculpting etc. we refer not only to an image but to an object or surface as well. Artists have expanded that an moved into areas of video and film but they rely on updated language and unique elements.
All you have done with your piece is to mimic an existing plastic vocabulary. Try getting to the unique qualities of the medium like light. Not simply projecting but beyond into motion etc.. Like Jeff said those who are stretching the digital art form are creating new and unique languages.
March 7th, 2012 #8
thank you guys for your responses. I'll respond to all of this helpful info in a few hours(currently in a workshop with a visiting artist). The school I attend is The University of North Florida. It has a surprisingly exceptional faculty that really cares. Ok, my breaks over! I'll be back here to respond later!
March 7th, 2012 #9
Bill's right: one of the things you learn in art school is how to navigate the art world.
Think of it as a language course: you're learning to speak fluent bullshit.
I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
March 7th, 2012 #10
March 7th, 2012 #11Jester
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Are you sure that the discussion is about traditional vs digital, and not about physical art vs projection?
March 7th, 2012 #12
@Jeff- I agree. The fact that it's just an painting without anything unique to digital gives me less ground. I'll try and hone in my bullshit skills. For the scholarship I submit like 7 images. My strongest ones will be digital. I'm just more experienced and comfortable with digital paint. Other than those I'll also use drawings. But considering digital will most likely be the primary strength and draw. I need to address it with the highest of bs.
@Jacob- thank you so much man. This really helps me with ideas and understanding exactly what I need to do in order to validate my work for this upcoming scholarship and future shows. I have to look up Andrew immediately! The way he prints those sounds extraordinary. The reason I've been projecting is primarily experimental. I've had bad experience so far with printing. I need to find a good shop that has the capabilities of printing on good rag paper or canvas. Not the bullshit I was fed at the fedex print shop. That place blows.
@Beeston- Thanks for the insight bud! That's exactly how this is being scrutinized. It's pretty black and white as far as the room for criticism. Considering how much of a trail blazer Andrew sounds, I might even mention him in the letter or essay or whatever it is for the scholarship. Like I was mentioning to Jacob, the purpose of projection was really to get my foot in the door for figuring out how to display this stuff. It was like "Ok, you can paint digitally, but how will you present it?" Unfortunately the enthusiasm I received in class was not equaled for the show(they didn't even set up the projector with the instructions I left for them. They just decided that there was no valid reason to even attempt to see what it looked like. That sucked. ). I think I'll mention Andrew and illustrate that my goals in exploring the medium are to push the art in a new direction in the spirit of him.
@Bcarman- Most definitely! I guess if I'm going to play the game, I better do it right, huh? I guess that the key to making the digital media come across as fine art is to talk about it like it's fine art! Who would have though it could be so simple! Unfortunately that show didn't require a statement...I should have provided one. That was undoubtedly a mistake.
@Stoat- I'm so glad you guys are preping me for the level of conformed language I must use! Navigate this art world I shall.
March 7th, 2012 #13
My comment wasn't only about learning to BS with the language. It was also about you deciding whether digital is its own unique medium with its own vision or whether it's just a quicker way to make things look traditional.
What most people who make traditional work don't understand is why do it digitally when there is no physical materiality to roll around in. I would suggest that an overwhelming percentage of painters (certainly sculptors) are as much interested in material as they are image. What you are creating with the computer has no materiality so the old schoolers don't understand why you'd want to make the same kind of work but leave out the best part.
Figure out why you like to work digitally and go from there. If it's just convenience then you'll never be able to sell that to a fine art crowd whatever language you use. When these guys use Android as an example it's because he has redefined the computer as a tool. He makes unique marks and presents his work, including performance, in a unique way. It's not about bullshitting it's about expanding a medium and understanding what you are doing.
March 7th, 2012 #14
I can see where projecting would be a problem unless all of the work in the show was projected, because you'd likely lose contrast. It's better to get it printed.
I used to think that professors were against digital because they wanted you to learn the basics of painting, but you can learn those same techniques if you sat down with the teacher at a computer. But this is hard to do in a classroom, much easier when all of the students have big canvases. And in the case of an art show, I think its because of the flatness of printed digital paintings, and maybe because they think it is lazy or easier to do digital?
When I look at traditional paintings, I find myself drawn to the brushstrokes as well as the whole composition, so when a painting in oil is done in a messy or unfinished fashion I still find it beautiful, but when the same painting is done digitally it loses those brushstrokes (though I have seen some digital painters mimic oil pretty well, its hard to do) and the painting just looks unfinished and sloppy. But on the other hand it is much simpler to blend and mix colours digitally, you can change the tones of the whole painting and you can get very fine details which would be difficult on a regular sized canvas. This makes it great for concept art and things like that. In short, I guess my opinion is that it is easier initially to finish a painting digitally, but it loses some of the energy that comes from brushstrokes and paint and in turn takes more work to get it up to that level.
I know I haven't really given any help as to convincing your professor which was the point of this thread.. I would suggest having it printed large at a shop and (a high quality print)...mount it on something and show it to your professors again..though this will cost you some money it has a better chance then showing them a projection.
Last edited by bytheoak; March 7th, 2012 at 05:48 PM.Portfolio
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March 7th, 2012 #15
Sorry, Bill, I shouldn't have been so flip. I knew what you meant, I'm just bitter, is all.
My art school and I were a bad mismatch.
I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
March 7th, 2012 #16
I had a professor last semester that gave me D's on two (of my four) assignments because I worked digitally and because the work was "too commercial" -- even though he approved that I would be working digitally before I started and said it was fine that I work on environments for a personal project of mine. He didn't tell me about the two grades (since both projects were presented at the same time at the end of the year) until after grades were sent out and after I had emailed him for weeks and weeks asking why my final grade was a C. It's been a couple of months now and I'm still trying to get the matter worked out with the Dean of Faculty so I can graduate with honours. He legitimately believes his grading was fair.
And it's not that I'm griping about bad grades, it's just that he gave A's out to everyone else and then claimed that my C was "average" for the class and I should be happy with it. People in that class didn't even grasp the basics of perspective or colour (lots of hallways with objects on the wall not in perspective and orange/pink-faced portraits -- all of which got A's), but he still felt that this and this this was D material.
I'm trying to argue bias because he spent a big chunk of class putting down commercial art and heralding contemporary fine art like it was the second coming of Jesus, but I have no way to argue that with facts, unfortunately. Even when I asked him for technical critique about anatomy, perspective, etc., he usually dodged the question and tried to make my work abstract. I felt very frustrated that he was so lenient with everyone and yet refused to respect and at times even shot down my goal to get into more commercial art.
March 7th, 2012 #17
It's more about UmpaArt navigating and deciding what he wants to do Stoat. There is enough BS floating around the halls of academia to raise the Titanic.
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March 7th, 2012 #18
I think that with a little slight of hand you can seem like you're bullshitting when you are really inserting genuine truth into the discussion. Because to be honest, life is too short to spend it doing anything that isn't what you really want to do(never end a sentence with a fucking preposition!!!!). I want my stuff to be honest, ya know? I don't care enough about being famous or having money to bullshit just for praise. I'd rather do work that I love to do. And back it up with what I ACTUALLY believe lol.
I think I'll post that letter here later tonight maybe to see what you guys think.
March 9th, 2012 #19
Tell me what you guys think! ONLY PART OF THIS DEALS WITH THE TOPIC OF THIS DISCUSSION. THE PERSONAL STATEMENT REQUIRED DEALS WITH MORE THAN JUST WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT. HOWEVER, IT WAS THE WEAKEST PART OF MY WORK.
I am pursuing a degree in Art and Design because I’ve been fortunate enough to know what I want to do in life from a very young age. Art has been the only consistent thing I have ever pursued so passionately. Specifically, I have had a strong affinity with drawing. Today, I’m more known for my painting. Yet, I will always be a draftsman at heart.
Along with knowing exactly what I want to do, I also want to be successful. That is why I am pursuing a degree in the first place. I believe that it will be the most effective catalyst in achieving my goals. There are many motivating factors for my personal success. First and foremost, I want to achieve success so that I can support my family. Without my family I would not be where I am today. I am forever in their debt. The definition of success in this instance is specifically monetary.
Behind that, is the motivation to be better than myself. To say that I want to compete and be better than my peers puts a limit on progress. That’s just not good enough. I want to be better than myself every single day. Likewise, I don’t want to be better than what is considered good today. I want to be better than what is good tomorrow. I think it’s about having vision and foresight. I liken it to how an artist needs to know that the beginning stage of a painting is only a step towards an end product. Where my art is now, is just a figurative under painting for what it will be as a finished piece.
I do this out of love for art. Since childhood, I have been addicted to seeing my work improve. To enjoy what I do and see myself improve as well, is the most rewarding and self motivating aspect of my life. I can not stress enough how much I enjoy drawing and painting. It is truly the love of my life.
That leads me to what I want to do with art. After school, I will pursue a career as an illustrator and concept artist in a salary position with a gaming company. The rewards of this position are specifically tailored to what I want in the big picture. Art and technology are constantly evolving here with things we have never seen before. Also, a steady financial situation allows me to pursue artistic endeavors specifically designed for the gallery world that have never been seen.
The portfolio I provide contains multiple digital paintings. Several of which I am creating in class with professor Jason John who is helping guide the presentation. I work digitally in Photoshop with a tablet that allows me to paint without restraint. I am experimenting with what a projection of light is and how it can be manipulated onto varying surfaces. This is directly related to the content of my paintings that deal with solipsism and exploring what reality is and is not in the context of understanding the limitations of both our senses and the fallibility of logic.
The question was posed to me: Why don’t you just paint them on canvas? Because I am no longer painting. I’m creating light. A painting is light hitting a surface that reflecting back to our eyes. I’m not doing that. I create the light. And to project them is only the beginning of how I intend to manipulate light and push the boundaries of how we understand images projected into our mind. To pursue these intellectual and artistic endeavors together, is the ultimate goal of my work.
I had to keep it to a page. I didn't want to go too in depth with the process that would bore the reader. My goal was to keep the reader engaged enough to read the entire thing and have an overall understanding of why I work digitally...Let me see if I can reform these paragraphs so it doens't look like a wall of text lol.
March 9th, 2012 #20From Gegarin's point of view
March 9th, 2012 #21
I think that is a solid statement/bio for your work Ump. A little lengthy but that's ok for a student - a lot of that information is relative. The last two paragraphs are the real core of what you're doing. I might try to working in a line or two in your opening statement which hooks the reader and ties them together better. Something along the lines of "I'll always be a drafstman at heart, yet with the way technology constantly evolves I'm excited about expanding the ideas of what a painting is in the future and creating images and paintings made of light."
March 9th, 2012 #22
March 9th, 2012 #23
Any statement you make about art when you are young is like leaving a garden rake in the long grass.
You'll visit the place a little later, tread on it, and get a nasty smack between the eyes.
From Gegarin's point of view
March 9th, 2012 #24Registered User
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They really do have some good art teachers there from what I remember...not all, but some. The few classes that I did take, like the figure drawing classes, were great.
You actually got me looking at some of the teachers work there (Kyle Keith in particularly) and he actually has some really good work that I never thought to look for.
Damn, I hate that I didn't utilize his teachings better with the few classes that I did have him in. I'm seriously considering going back now.
Sorry for the somewhat off topic rant, it's just nice to see some Floridians around here.
My Sketchbook: Criticisms and Feedback needed
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March 10th, 2012 #25
March 10th, 2012 #26
Forget about convincing your Fine Art Teachers about its validity the only thing that matters is the public and if you ever want to be a person who makes their living as a fine artist you can forget about digital. At the end of the day its not about how clever you are, its about creating something unique, with skill; if you can't do that then you can't make anything to sell to the people that collect fine art. They want something they can own that they know no one else has. Digital fails in this respect because there is no physical original and never will be. So you are forever condemned to the low end print market just like Thomas Kinkaid. If you want to get real value for what you do you have to have the skills to make something worthwhile and unique.
The Autry Museum just had its annual representational art show and most of the artists who participated sold their work or sold out of their work. Just look at the prices real painting commands in one of the worst markets in the last 100 years. This show is just one of many in the US like this every year. All the artists in the show make their living selling original artwork for a living. Those collectors are the ones you have to win over.
Last edited by dpaint; March 10th, 2012 at 06:40 PM.
March 10th, 2012 #27Registered User
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There is NO difference between the two.
People seriously have to stop whinning about digital art being considered "Fine Art' or not. I think all of us who even vist this site would agree, that you CAN do fine art in a digital format. The problem i most often hear, is young students NOT WANTING to learn traditional fundamentals, because they just like how much easier trial and error studies are on a digital platform.
Just as a point of reference, please consider the fact that all the greatest names in the concept art world, like giant Syd Mead, or new school guys like Ryan Church and Feng Zhu, ALL learned the basics with traditional media first.
Learn the basics, THEN do digital as much as you want.
March 10th, 2012 #28
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March 11th, 2012 #29
As for the original topic, I too wonder if the argument was more about the reasoning behind projecting the art rather than it being about digital. To me, if you make an unusual choice like projecting, there should be a reason behind it, and if there isn't I could see the gimmick being called out with a statement of "why not just paint it?" Fine art doesn't care about something being well done (sadly), it has much more to do with the thought behind it. Execution is secondary.
I think digital is a great choice for commercial art, but unless you are really breaking some boundaries it's not going to be widely accepted in fine art.
March 11th, 2012 #30
In the end, you are paying for your education. If you want to do concept/commercial art, and the instructor teaches contemporary/fine art then you have a serious conflict there. Why would you pay tuition to an instructor not teaching you what you want to know, or grading you fairly based on that?