NCN Convention and Digital Media

I'm sitting in the NUGGET hotel in Sparks, NV (near Reno) a day after the final awards banquet for the National Caricaturist Network Convention and Annual Competition. What an event! There is nothing that compares to this convention, and a week full of drawing, painting and sculpting is never enough! I highly suggest you take a peek at caricature.org and join the NCN, as well as plan on attending the next convention for the best time of your life as an artist, if you appreciate the art of caricature at all.

I was also lucky enough to pick up a caricature sculpture of myself, completed by artist/sculptor/illustrator David O'Keefe. What a magnificent piece of art... and a bit creepy!

Lastly, I've received an email from artist JC Reyes, asking a few questions about digital painting for his thesis report. Here are his questions and by brief answers. I realize that I am not a great writer and have fairly simple views on this topic, but if it helps anyone, it's worth sharing:


Q: "What do you think are the advantages of using digital illustration softwares like Adobe Photoshop in making caricatures?"

A: There are several advantages in using digital software to create paintings and illustrations. I feel the biggest advantage has to do with time and cost. When being commissioned to do an illustration, a project can be turned around in far less time than doing traditional media, because one does not have the burden of materials, prep and cleanup. Many different effects, textures and approaches can be achieved with the same program (ie: Photoshop, Painter, Sketchbook Pro, etc), rather than purchasing costly materials for each project, style or medium.

It is also easy to make large and substantial changes to an image when working digitally, and many different versions of a piece can be created quickly, without redoing a piece multiple times. This, again, is an advantage for an illustrator when a client or art director feels the need to see different color themes or elements in a piece. It is easy to experiment and find what "works" in each piece of art, when you have the option to "undo" changes, as well as work with layers.

Q: "What are the difference of using traditional media from digital?"

A: The differences are very simple. Using traditional media is very important in keeping up an artist's skills, as well as calligraphy. Putting lines or brush strokes on a board, paper or canvas will keep your muscle memory and ability to work in a speedy and comfortable manner. This is mostly lost when working digitally. The invention of tablets such as the Wacom Cintiq are blurring these lines, however you still may not experience the texture and drag that traditional media can offer. For example, using acrylic paint on a canvas has a distinct and unique "feel." This feel is not experienced when working on a digital tablet surface. There is also the problem of not having a true "original" piece of art. A digital file is nothing more than 1s and 0s in a particular order. While the image is created, the artist does not have a one-of-a-kind physical object to hold afterwards.

Recently, the ease of reproducing original art on board, paper and canvas has caused an increase of marketing in the "print" world, and artists and dealers can sell many copies of one original piece of art. This can be done with digital paintings, so the validity of selling work is now becoming more clear and interesting.

Q: "Does it have great affect on your work?"

A: The biggest effect digital painting has on my work is by hurting it. With how easy and fast it is to create a digital painting, it becomes tempting to create most work in the computer. In doing this, I lose my feel for raw materials from time to time, and I'd rather be more loose and ready to paint or draw at any time. There is an advantage, however, and it has to do with versatility and speed, as mentioned above.

Q: "What are your other views on this topic?"

A: I feel digital painting is a great thing. The current state of art has led many jobs to rely on speed and versatility, and without this knowledge, I feel many artists are behind in the 'game.' Working in digital media is as important as learning to type (for artists) and is part of the current state of illustration and concept art/design. Without this knowledge and practice in an artist's portfolio, they are clearly behind in the technology, and it may hurt them. I also feel that any artist that works exclusively in digital media is limiting their exposure and possibilities. There is much more to talk about in this topic, and it is all very debatable. I feel the digital transition has much to do with technology and the digital wave of our time, and keeping up is possibly the most important choice in an artist's career.


Alex Owens said...

you really make a good point about "the feel" of natural media. And its absolutley true, give a digital painter a markette and you're bound to be dissapointed, give a traditional painter a tablet, and you'll get a painting. I do feel strongly that its important to learn fundamentals, and really build the dexterity of your drawing hand. So I agree 100% on that one, well said.

Gabriel Hunt said...

Don ferget to post your artwork from the con bro. Your Matt Zitman sculpure was very impressive.

Nelson Santos said...

ahah who´s ugglyier! Great job by Keefer.

Jeff Pecina said...

that sculpture of u looks really similar to the sketch dan hay did of you

The Hurricane said...

Well said. You gud. AND DAMNNNNNNNNNN on the sculpture... so so cool.

holla holla.
me :)

Josh Spencer said...

thanks for the Q & A. And i thought that sculpture was jerry sienfeld at first. haha

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on subjects such as these..

Alex said...

dig the o'keefe. gave you the touch o' the creepy, he did

ramanjit said...

hi guru,
this is so sweet.

Anonymous said...

putting traditional art over digital art is as senseless as a discussion whether drawing is better than sculpting, it's just a different tool and it always comes down to the mastery of it. the author should know that digital painting is by no means easier than traditional painting and it certainly doesn't happen by itself!

Vincent KUBICKI said...

The sculpture is awesome !