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Snobbery in Art & Among Artists


zentao.com logo and trademark since 197“If you can’t do realism, you aren’t an artist.”

“Digital art isn’t real art.”

These are two statements which I will leave unattributed since I don’t want to wind up with nasty email from those individuals whom I’m quoting (…and they are direct quotes) or from their fans and supporters.  In fact, it doesn’t matter who said it, because you can read or hear similar sentiments coming from various sources — art experts, art aficionados, art critics, art reviewers, gallery owners, art agents, as well as from artists and the common populace.

What arrogance! What snobbery!  What short-sighted, closed-mindedness.  Of course you’re an artist, even if you can’t do “realism.” And, of course it’s art, even if it’s created digitally.  The statements are so very ludicrous, I just have to chuckle.  The same was said by those condemning dadaism, impressionism, expressionism, cubism and every other art style which arose.  The same was said concerning acrylic paintings as opposed to more traditional oils.

And here I’m going to quote myself from a forum I frequent.  This was in response to someone’s art posted to critique, and the resulting conversation concerning learning to draw and paint realistically as a valuable prerequisite (It’s valuable, but NOT prerequisite):

Now that brings up a “funny” for me from my history. (It wasn’t funny at the time, but is now.) You know I got so good at realism in high school and at university that I had to PROVE I didn’t trace or photograph the works. I was challenged so many times, it wasn’t funny. And proving you did it all by freehand was not easy at that time. In high school, my parents would stand up and tell the teachers, no, she did it. At university, I wound up only working in class or when a roommate could verify that I did it myself — no photo, no tracing, no nothing. This was before the advent of the video camera, so there was really no way to prove that I had done it freehand. I was that good with my realism. I don’t have that kind of patience any longer. And I don’t see the point. If I want realism, I’ll take a photo. If I want hyper-realism, I’ll start with a set of photos, then project them onto the canvas, turn around and enhance the realism…the same way that Steve Lyman and many others do their “realism.” Is it cheating? They don’t think so. Personally, I love that I have the ability to do it, and I can prove my ability to do it, but why waste one’s life when what I paint are my feelings. That’s my art. I’m not interested in painting pretty pictures. I do enough illustrating to be completely bored with it.

The point is, I guess, why is realism so necessary when the style here is wonderful. This he should cultivate. Being able to meticulously draw the human form, a tree, a tiger, a horse from scratch with or without a picture to reference develops good skills, but it can also detract from originality, in my opinion, especially if the internal critic gets a hold, enhanced by external reinforcement and the very prevalent attitude that, unless you can do realism, you’re not an artist.

And as for digital art, well, it is just as valid as any other media, often takes more skill because you must know the same techniques and craft as any real world media painter or sculptor, PLUS how to use a computer, the ancillary hardware (Wacom and stylus, for example), as well as the programs required to create the art, and, in many cases, you also have to know some high-end math, especially in the case of 3D art.

Beware, you who claim realism as the utter measurement of someone’s artistic qualification, and double beware you who claim digital to be something less than a valid art form and media.  The ability to do realism does not mean the individual has any artistic ability whatsoever. It only means they have a specific technical proficiency. As to the media with which the art is rendered, digital or real word, that has absolutely no bearing upon the merit and value of a work as art. 


Originally posted by DLKeur on her art blog on June 21, 2007. Copyright inheres.



Copyright 2007 D.L.Keur &/or F.W.Lineberry, http://www.zentao.com . All rights reserved. Reprint rights granted ONLY if linked and credited.




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