Monday, July 6, 2009

Death to Drawing?

This afternoon, as I saw the mail carrier approaching my door with a small cardboard box, my excitement was immediately stirred as I anticipated its contents. This is the time of year when Communication Arts puts out its annual illustration publication, thus I intuitively knew what was nearing my doorstep. I always look forward to the illustration annual and seeing the latest ideas and techniques used by the world’s most skilled artists.
On the introduction page of the exhibit, Karen Powers is quoted saying, “I had expected to see more manipulated photo/illustration with lots of overwrought digital wizardry and was pleased to see that was not the case. So much of the work still involved traditional illustration techniques based on strong drawing skills.” Since I am familiar with the abundance of “digital wizardry” that is passed for skill in contemporary illustration, I was looking forward to being blown away by drawings, paintings and other hand-rendered media.
Well, I am now wondering if Karen was talking about a different art presentation, because the majority of the illustrations in the Comm Arts Illustration annual were either digitally generated or digitally enhanced. Granted, many of the images were skillfully done, however, artists seemed to rely so heavily on the computer that their efforts venture more into digital cut and paste rather than drawing skill. Some work was much like a glorified coloring book.
Still there were nuggets of inspiration with examples of old school illustrators like Brad Holland and Gary Kelly. I always enjoy seeing their work as they execute their conceptual and drawing skills into their illustrations. Their work is a breath of fresh air in a field where so many gee-wiz techno geeks exist. I wonder if Brad and Gary were new to the field would their work would even be accepted into the Comm Arts annual of today. One could only speculate.
As one who has not yet “made it” in my illustration career, I guess I have to either accept the direction that the field of illustration is going or be left behind. Ah, if only I were born ten years earlier!


Alex said...

I think arts are similar in many ways regardless of which, may it be musics, movies, drawings, pottery, whatever... they all involve certain level of 'cut n paste' anyway. The things that have been changing all these years are medias and tools. I used to think that people who do arts on computers don't really much know arts, and it's all manipulations, right until I tried it myself. Actually there it's quite the same, you still need to use different colors, tools and functions to perform certain operations just to get the result that you need. Yes, you could undo and redo on computers, but that's just one of the advantages that enables you to work fast, making things presentable and what not. I just think that it's directed to specific audience, especially when we're in this IT era, super fast moving world, and still looking for perfection. Still, what IS perfection? ^^ There's something that computer arts can never have.. which is the value and the uniqueness of hand drawn stuff, nobody can ever draw the exact same circle twice ;)
Nice sketch by the way!

winna said...

I see the cat agrees with you. I always enjoy your writings....

David R. Vallejo said...

Alex, I appreciate your comment. Personally, I think that computer art should be treated as another medium, just like pencil, watercolors, or oil paint. Like these other mediums, the computer has its own unique quality of characteristics. Though I do like computer art, I think sometimes technology is used like a crutch to take the place of drawing skills. I think nothing takes the place of strong draughtsmanship as I believe it is foundational to the other mediums.