Monday, 19 December 2011

Illustrations Digital Future

I have read a few articles around the subject of illustrations future, and there seems to be different opinions about working digitally and making from scratch. I also have my own opinions around this subject! 

 Before there was an explosion of technology in the 90's, artists used to paint and make things using craft techniques. Almost everybody was thrown into this computerised world, and from a young age I can remember being forced into Information Technology lessons..and I despised it!! It made me uncomfortable and frustrated that I had to hit buttons, and I did not like the fact that I couldn't get inside to move things, it wasn't something I could physically touch. 

There was a lot of digital illustrations being created, and it seemed everybody was after this sleek, perfect look. Even today everybody wants the latest gadgets, it's a status thing to have a Mac or an ipod, or latest iphone. There has even been discussions on the future of books due to the invention of ebooks, ipad and kindle, where you can read digitally...who wants to do that?! I love to open a book and smell the pages! I like choosing a book by it's cover! If books disappear will there be a need for illustrators? I don't actually think people will stop buying books, its not practical to lug a computer around anyway. Besides, even ebooks would still need art work surely?

I think the thing I don't like about digital work is that it's too sleek and can feel like it doesn't have a personality. I do notice the need for perfection in society nowadays too, women are becoming more fake looking with false hair, eyelashes etc, and supermarkets will only sell veg that is a certain shape. I mean what's the world coming to?! I watched a program called 'The People's Supermarket' on C4, and they were trying to stock up their supermarket and went to some local farmers for some local produce. The farmers were explaining that the big name supermarkets will not buy vegetables that are oddly shaped or have knobbly bits, and lots go to waste. This just seems ridiculous to me when you have people starving on the other side of the world. Besides, I'd like to buy weird shaped vegetables! I hate going into supermarkets and being met with same boring layouts and mass produced items that all look alike..I can compare it to digital work.  I like imperfections, it's intriguing and I respect people that have computer skills don't misunderstand me, but the computer should just be a tool for finishing off a project i.e. for printing or doing a few touch-ups. I wouldn't agree that using a computer is a skill as such and anyone can be trained up to press buttons and move a mouse, that being said its the idea that's important and not the method. I found this quote by Milton Glaser from an article which really 'hit the nail on the head' for me, "Computers are to design as microwaves are to cooking." The man had a point: simply reheating ready-meals rather than cooking with fresh ingredients every time can leave the palette craving new tastes and experiences. Serving up mediocre and mundane dishes day-after-day isn't good for the soul - whereas experimentation is the spice-of-life. (

I think computers take away the element of chance in illustrations, which can sometimes be the making of a project. It's nice to hand make things and feel a sense of achievement knowing that not everybody in the world can do what you are able to do. I think sketchbooks and experimenting are a huge part in making individual illustrations, you can keep mistakes as they sometimes add a little something! Hand made work is quirky, imperfect and unique. It is so versatile, it has no limitations. 

 It seems that there has been a shift again and people are reverting back to craft, some think this a trend and may fade but I will never work digitally it's just not what I do. Maybe people never stopped crafting, maybe it seemed that way because companies were preferring the digital illustrations and so that's what was what we were being exposed to. I think nowadays it's a mix of the two, a lot more people are mixing digital and handmade together, and it works. I think the future for illustration looks bright, and that although people's opinions differ, there's a place for everybody.

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