Look, I’m just going to get right to it: art is art.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an illustrator, a painter, or a photographer. It doesn’t matter if you use pen and paper, an iPad, or mashed potatoes. It’s. All. Art.
This gloriously artifact-laden plague doctor I cobbled together in Blender this summer? It took me half a day, I made it for my daughter, and I’m proud of it.
As you should be proud of whatever it is you do, regardless of the subjects you depict or the media you use. This much should be obvious to anyone who’s ever had the passion and follow-through to create something, anything, of their own, but apparently it isn’t.
I see a lot of people giving others grief for the tools and techniques they bring into their art. I see a lot of complaints along the lines of “the undo button is cheating,” and “it’s not ‘real art’ if you had to use Photoshop,” and “‘real artists’ don’t work from a reference,” and it’s all just so stupid.
Seriously. This purity policing in the art world isn’t new. It’s been around forever, probably since the first cave person smeared a stick-figure zebra on the wall of their condo.
These very same accusations of “cheating” were thrown about by portrait painters when the camera became all the rage back at the turn of the last century. They were even said of painters who began using the then-wild-and-crazy tubes of paint when they came out in the 1840s, because the self-proclaimed “real artists” back then hand-gathered their pigments and mixed their own paints, don’t you know.
And what do you bet the Renaissance had its own share of elitist twits, who spent half their lives whining about oils being “just a crutch.”
Don’t listen to people like this.
Really. Just don’t even bother talking with them, because anyone still going on about what is or isn’t “real art” in this day and age…well, let’s be honest here: just how interesting can any of their other ideas be?
And to be clear, I’m not putting artists down for choosing to use “traditional” materials themselves, or otherwise intentionally working under tough conditions for their own creative purposes.
Someone wants to take uncropped photos using only expired film and a pinhole camera made from a shoe box? Super! Someone else wants to draw and shade that life-size nude of Hector Elizondo riding a unicycle using only a charred toothpick? God bless ’em.
There are all sorts of challenges or restrictions artists can self-impose for all sorts of reasons, and that’s all perfectly fine. I’m not criticizing that.
What I am criticizing are the people who pretend that their own, personal creative choices are the One True Way and everyone else is just a poser. I’m criticizing the people who claim they are somehow superior to artists who make different choices than they do. And I’m throwing extra-special criticism at the people who think a work of art is somehow made less worthy of interest, acknowledgement, and praise the moment a computer gets involved.
Because no matter how you create it, art is art.
Now go create something you can be proud of.