There’s an old adage that most people can’t define art, but they know it when they see it. The definition of art was debated long before the digital age. From Greek philosophers to the United States Supreme Court, wise people have tried to define what art is, the process by which it is created, and its meaning to society.
Defined in simple terms by Merriam-Webster, art is “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.”
As the process of creating digital art evolves and becomes more commonplace, we see debates in internet forums and hear conversations in museums and coffee shops about whether art created digitally can really be considered art.
Open for interpretation
Many would argue that art cannot be defined. In fact, the legal system has declined to “define” art and has instead left it open to interpretation. It allows for societal norms and does not put limitations on the evolving process by which it is created.
For the most part, fine art has been defined as something created primarily for beauty rather than utility and placed into categories such as painting, sculpture, poetry and music.
What is digital art?
Digital art is any form that utilizes digital technology during production. Fairly broad in definition, we know, but there are as many forms of digital art as traditional art. For the most part, though, a digital artist sits in front of a computer monitor to create, rather than a blank canvas or hunk of unformed clay.
Sometimes the image created is done from scratch; other times the artist is manipulating an existing image into something different and unique. Like other forms, digital art can take on many forms, from illustration to multimedia to interactive.
Commonalities exist between digital and traditional art. As in traditional art, there are very few successful, self-taught artists. The best digital artists study traditional techniques in order to become better artists. There is skill involved. Like a painter, a digital artist has tools available to help him create. But those tools do not create; the artist does! And like a painter, the digital artist must be well-versed in light, color, texture, saturation, and depth. Perhaps most importantly, each artist has to possess a desire to create and express through the medium.
Does digital art meet the definition of art?
Of course it does. At its base, art is merely a form of communication. The artist, through creativity, is attempting to express an idea or evoke an emotion. The same is most certainly true for a digital artist.
Like any other form of art, digital is merely the newest evolution of art. The potential of digital will grow as technology progresses and will be limited only by the artist’s imagination.
Cogswell College’s Bachelor Degree in Digital Art & Animation is designed to prepare students for exciting careers throughout the entertainment, media and art industries. Through extensive coursework, students gain hands-on experience using the latest tools and applications for 3D graphics and animation.