Wanna know a pet peeve of mine? People that say that they work “by hand” when what they mean to say is that they don’t work with a digital medium. Every single time I hear somebody say that I feel like whipping out my penis and pushing my digital pen around with it, since according to them, I’m not using my hands to produce any of the things I make (granted, I could’ve used my feet or any other part rather than my penis – but that’s not the way it goes around here).
If I had such a skill, I’d have a very different job. But sadly, I cannot paint with my penis – I’m sure there’s at least a couple of people in the world that can do it, but I’m not one of them.
If I had it my way, people wouldn’t say that things are “done by hand” or “digital”, because it doesn’t just imply that I’m not using my hands, it also insinuates that somehow I am not participating in the process as much as they are. It’s as if working in Photoshop didn’t take any skill at all, and somewhere in the menus there was a “produce image” function just waiting to be clicked.
Quite some time ago, I remember reading about Vanessa Mae (the violinist) and how she was responding to criticism towards her playing remixed versions of classical music with an electric violin. I can’t really quote her verbatim, but she basically said that if Bach had a synthesizer available back in his time, he probably would’ve used it.
All discussions concerning what Bach’s attitude towards progress might’ve been, I believe that Ms. Mae makes an excellent point that can be applied to any art form. Oil paints, pencils, paper, canvas, watercolors, Photoshop or even coffee stains – all these are just the tools we use to produce our art. All of them require skill and none of them do our work for us. But the truth is that some of them actually allow us to do more with them, in what perhaps could be considered a more convenient manner. I’d say that’s what progress is all about.
Every single time that I’ve gotten into discussions of this sort, I’ve observed that the person that’s against digital media normally comes from a mixture of misdirected nostalgia and/or simply not knowing how to work with whatever computer program they’re against. They’re the same kind of people that will try and argue that vinyl records sound better than digital formats.
I’ll admit, I don’t know much about music or sound production, but I’m pretty sure that the fuzz sound in the background wasn’t originally there. I won’t deny that there’s a certain charm in vinyl that is worth appreciating, just like I won’t deny that there’s a certain pleasure in feeling a sheet of paper or getting dirty with paints. But what will happen if some day we just run out of paper, probably because we cut down all the trees or something like that?
Will graphic arts then die?