Illustrations Digital Future

Illustrations Digital Future

As an illustrator, the argument between traditional and digital illustration pops up. I take no sides, I admit I enjoy both and use them both to my advantage (I like to think). However, others argue the creative industry has become too digital and the work is becoming flat and souless.

This has sparked a revival in the cottage industry with craft and the hand-made. You only have to look at the front page of etsy and folksy to see the number of people hopping on to that bandwagon, or pop into any artsy shop and you’ll see a room full of hand-sewn characters and painted brickabrack. That said, there is an argument in defense of digital, that at the time, any new print process (lithograph, silk screening, etc) revolutionises how illustrators work. Digital can just be seen as the new process. However, it’s still a relatively young method of working, in the grand scheme of things and is still developing and growing. It takes skill to command digital tools, just as it does with the more traditional tools and they can both be used to the detriment or beneficial to the artist, depending on their level of skills.

Despite the many people who argue against digital, indeed defying modern technology, they use the technology they’re so against to sell their wares. You cannot belong to etsy without a computer, after all. Many people turn to etsy as, though there are shops who sell handmade, depending where you live, there is a distinct lack of such options. One shop can only sell so many artists work before they have to begin to turn some away. So where do these artists go? Online, in hopes that they’ll find their market there. Most of these people will sell a few pieces here and there, but not many will make a living, which causes me to ask the question, how long can it carry on?

Many also predict the death of the book due to the kindle/iPad/etc moving in on the territory, which I do not agree with. There will always be a need for certain books in print, atleast, including the artbooks so many illustrators desire to be involved with. However, whilst at the Manchester Illustration Symposium back in early november, a point was made that people want to utilise all of their senses. The invention of the print press ended the need for vocalisation of stories and tales, as they could now be shared instead with the masses through the power of word, thus the world became primarily a visual culture. Now, however, people feel a desire to optimise all of their senses, especially as technology allows it. An example was given of moving illustrative posters in the London Underground. They included imagery, sound and motion. This makes one wonder what the role of the illustrator will be, in a world of discipline versus roles that illustrators can take on. Are we just illustrators, creators of still images or do we need to adapt? Of course, as with any artist from any time, we will have to change and learn as technology and demand dictates.

However you work, if you are unable to adapt and learn new skills, I think your time in the creative industry would be very limited, unless you’re one of the lucky few who become known for their work outside of the industry, by the common person.