A Deep Look at Digital Art
Chris Labrooy is a digital artist who has created work for brands. We spoke to him about his, and how the digital landscape has transformed the way we interact with art.
We live in a digital world. The rise of technology in the 21st century has completely transformed the way in which we think create and consume. And the art world – far from being sheltered inside the walls of galleries and institutions – has been undergoing a metamorphosis of its own.
Digital technology has not only expanded the potential for creating new forms of art – it has changed how the industry operates. From CGI software and virtual auctions, it has affected how art is created, promoted, bought and sold.
’’I was in my early twenties when I started dabbling with digital art,” Chris explains, “although I didn’t get serious until my mid-twenties after leaving the RCA where I studied product design.”
The practice of digital art is the creation of pieces which are computer generated, scanned, or drawn using a tablet or mouse. This includes digitally manipulated videos, photographs, and in recent years, it has often been interactive – allowing the audience to influence the images which are made.
This increasing proximity between the art and the audience is an important part of what makes digital art stand out.
“In college, I was interested in making high-end design, art, furniture and products. But I started to realise that the image was just as important as the actual object – most people only get to experience these ultra-rare objects through an image online or in a book or magazine. These thoughts pushed me to pursue image-making using digital technology.”
Old meets new
His finished product takes the form of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), but although the result may feel distinct from traditional artistic mediums, the process remains largely the same.
‘The physical world informs what I do in the digital space,” says Chris. “My work is a digital simulation of reality. In order to make it convincing one must have a good sense of the immateriality of things.
Usually, I have an idea then grind away for many hours until it takes shape as something presentable. During the development process, I am constantly drawing and sketching in conjunction with building the ideas on the computer.”
“What appealed to me about the digital side was the absence of friction in the process.” He continues, “I didn’t have to rely on anyone to get stuff done which can get tiresome when making physical things, I think with digital art you can maybe explore and test more ideas without having to worry about budgets, prototypes, storage of prototypes etc.”
And while traditional artists face the high cost of materials – such as paint, canvas, clay or film – digital artists have different expenses. “One key challenge is the learning curve with all the different tools available today – my main outlays are for annual software subscriptions and new computer purchases every couple of years.
But the biggest cost is one’s own time – in that respect there is no difference between physical vs digital. Advances in software and computing power has meant that you can achieve far more with less money than you could 10 years ago, making it much easier for people to participate in the production of digital artwork, design and filmmaking.”
In the same way that technological advances have opened-up the possibilities for people to create digital art – media and other online platforms have made enjoying, sharing and buying art, more accessible.