Digital Art and The Future of the Digital Artist

25/05/2021
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Digital art has been around for some time. However, it took a $69,3-million sale, a blockchain and endorsements from the likes of Elon Musk, Lindsay Lohan, Kings of Leon or Steve Aoki to propel the digital artist into the limelight.

It is now generating massive sums of money on the blockchain, and many collectors and speculators are drawn to it.
At the core of this eruption in popularity are the non-fungible tokens (aka NFTs). Acting as almost bullet-proof digital signatures, they bestow the blessing of scarcity and authenticity upon digital art, which has been suffering immensely from its easily duplicable nature.
More than that, NFTs cut out the middleman and connect artists directly to collectors. Digital artists can also continue to make money on their work, way after it has been sold, through royalties – a true rarity in the classic artwork. While not without its shortcomings, the NFT technology has propelled digital art to new heights in recent months, which can only be a good thing.

However, the question still lingers on. Is this the future of digital art and the digital artist? Will we still be talking about NFTs and crypto art in 50 years? Before even attempting to find an answer to this question, let’s engage reverse and park neatly on the History Street of Digital Art.

When Did the Digital Artist Begin to Make History?

Who was the first digital artist? Hard to say. However, we can trace the term “digital art” all the way back to the early 1980s when computer engineers first used it to describe a paint program known as AARON. What is digital art in short? It is art generated by a computer, scanned or drawn on a tablet, with a stylo or mouse. This is the most stripped-down definition.

In the mid-1980s, the American artist, film producer and director Andy Warhol created several digital artworks and doodles on his Commodore Amiga home computer. They have recovered a few years ago; among them, a computer-generated The Birth of Venus from Botticelli. In the 1990s, you could already download videos onto a computer. This gave artists the creative freedom to manipulate the imagery in ways they could never think of with the old film.

However, in talking about digital art, we can go as far as the 1960s to John Whitney, one of the fathers of computer graphics, who used mathematical functions to make artworks. So, math and art? Yes, why not.

Fast forward several decades, and we’re on the threshold of AI-powered video editing tools helping artists put their ideas into practice without worrying about all the technicalities. What do you think about it? Check out our free Vidalgo tool for creating 3D animations and leave feedback for us so we can keep improving it.

But let’s talk about “motion graphics” and animations a bit more. The term “motion graphics” can be traced all the way back to early cinema and those first opening credits that would roll on the screen and get us excited about the movie we were about to watch.  We didn’t call those “motion graphics” at that time.

Nowadays, motion graphics are evolving in a more refined form of art. There are countless software programs and tools that make it all the more exciting for the viewers and complicated for the artists, for the most part.

The term “motion graphics” was first used by John Whitney in 1960. It is a type of graphic design put into action. It adopts artistic elements from illustration, typography or photography, and the result is a visually rich composition with excellent storytelling potential. Illustrated objects, backgrounds and characters interact with each other to create unique visual metaphors and convey narratives.

You’re probably already thinking of your next motion design concept, so check out our video animation tool, and let us know how it can help put your idea into action.

Looking to the digital artist’s future

Physical art is still considered superior to digital art; however, what a digital artist’s artistic potential can bring to the table is immense. In the following decades, we might see a swift change in perceptions here.

Digital art allows for more widespread distribution; it won’t just be for collectors or museums; everyone could gaze upon it. Moreover, with the new VR emerging technology, we’re going to witness whole new artistic experiences. We could visit art galleries from the comfort of our homes, using a VR set. Most museums have created virtual tours as an effect of the Coronavirus pandemic, prompting them to close their physical doors.

Who knows, maybe in the future, we could be able to “enter an artwork” using only a pair of VR glasses and enjoy every stroke of brush like it’s a scene from a movie. Are we going too far? It’s not a crime to dream about it.

In the intelligent homes of the future, smart picture frames can interchangeably display every digital artwork you possess. So, you can easily have a “museum” at home that no one can break into. The digital artwork is stored on the blockchain; you just display it in your house.

There is a critical downside to digital art that we cannot ignore, though. The need to physically touch and feel the object in front of us is deeply ingrained in our human nature. You must know that feeling when you go to a museum, and you find a sculpture or a painting that draws you in, and you gaze upon it for minutes on end, it’s almost like your fingertips are asking you to touch it, to sensorily experience it. No wonder there are “no-touch” signs in all museums.

However, there are solutions like a haptic suit with several vibration points that help you interact with a virtual environment by sending haptic feedback. This way, you can immerse yourself into a motion graphic and be part of the entire scene that unfolds in front of you.

So, probably, the future of digital art is immersive, is about experiences. For the digital artist, it is perhaps about NFTs or other ways of selling their art and living off it.

The Future for The Digital Artist

As digital artist, we feel there is a lot to be enthusiastic about at this time. Technology is now more and more part of our lives, our jobs, our leisure activities. It is like a snowball that keeps rolling and rolling, gaining speed as it goes. For some, this acceleration of technology might be hair-rising, leaving them anxious about what our world would look like in 20 years.

However, we think that the digital artist of today should be excited about what’s to come. Machine learning will be a bit part of our lives; it will augment the work we do, even in art. However, that will not change the intent behind the art. Even if the tools change and evolve, the artistic impetus will remain pretty much the same.

User Experience will become crucial. The process of creating should be captivating, not dreadful. Digital artists will rely very much on powerful, flexible and user-friendly software to give life to their vision and ideas. Tools need to be simplified, and the only way is to do that together. So, if you’ve got time and feel like it, don’t forget to check our animation creation tool and leave feedback for us, so we can constantly improve it.

Even if the future digital artist has to develop a whole new set of skills, the principles will stay the same. The tenets of animations are fundamental; honing one’s ability to draft a new image that tells a story is the artist’s solitary life pursuit.

What will change for the digital artist is the marketing and selling of the artworks. The art world has already entered an “NFT craze”, and there are no signs of slowing down.

While there are some shortcomings to it, NFTs have the potential to grant the artist a certain creative freedom. There are no art galleries to dictate what can be sold or not, no middlemen. With some research and a little bit of luck, one can sell their own artworks on the blockchain. Here’s a simple guide on how to create NFTs and sell them.

The fact that NFTs are serious business is proven by the big investors and famous pop artists’ interest in them. Even the auction house Christie’s, founded in 1776, has joined the hype, offering Beeple’s NFT artwork.  

There is big money involved and many speculators looking for the next significant investment; that is true, but so is in the classic art world. All in all, NFTs can provide the artist with more control over what they create and how they choose to share it with the world.

Only time will tell us for sure if the future of digital art and the digital artist stands in the NFTs. However, for the moment, the crypto art world provides more copyrights security and a decentralised marketplace for selling art. These might be just the things to help promising digital artists keep on going.

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