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An Ongoing Bias?

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Has digital art truly moved into the 21st century?


Maybe a better question is whether or not our recognition of valid art, within the art community, regardless of it's origin or execution, has evolved to keep pace with lightspeed gains in technology.


My previous post asked about acceptance of this mechanism, this process, among buyers. Having recently had the opportunity to join a local art club, and upon reading the fine print in the rules for what is billed as the 'premiere event' of the year for this club, Rule 1 stated "All art must be ORIGINAL. No prints, giclees, or other reproductions allowed, with the exception of printed photographs.".

How disappointing, on many levels.


As I am sure you are aware, digital art (as with modern day photography), has no true original physical product. As such, any product produced for presentation or resale is a print; a reproduction. I won't even get into how the term 'ORGINAL' might be defined. See where I'm going?


When I questioned this rule, I was told that the rule had been in place for many years (read: "that's they way we have always done things") and - my interpretation - was possibly in place before the emergence of a mature digital art process. Without any offering of a reexamination of outdated rules in light of this being the 21st century, and all, I was given apologies that the club might not be a good 'fit' for me. I tend to agree.


How revolutionary was the advent of the paint brush, a stick with animal hair strapped to it, 2500 years ago when, previously, the accepted artistic tools were sticks, palm leaves, and tree bark? Was this new tool met with opposition and exclusion in the Paleolithic Period?


I am certainly not saying that digital art should or could ever replace traditional media. My point is that there is room for both. Parallel paths to the same end. Any sense that one is better than the other is invalid. Artists live in a world where there should be no boundaries (fundamental rules - yes). I cannot see how a new tool in my toolbox is less valid than any existing tool in that toolbox.


Twenty-plus years ago, I might be able to understand the bias. Today, I don't get it. And no, I didn't join the club.



Tell me what you think. Agree? Disagree? Speak up! All feedback is welcome.


Copyright 2021 Olin Gillis Original Fine Art








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3 Comments


Lynne Chavez
Lynne Chavez
Oct 23, 2021

An artist uses tools. The tools do not use the artist! And, art is truly subjective and in the eyes of the beholder. Learning what you love, and how it was created is part of a wonderful journey. We no longer carve letters and declarations on stone tablets (No offense to Moses), so why should we not welcome all methods and tools to encourage unique creativity?


And, not joining a restrictive club was a good decision. :) I disagree with their bylaws but respect their right to state them. However, losing your extreme knowledge and talent is a loss for them !

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Ellen Harrison
Ellen Harrison
Oct 04, 2021

In 1999, I was blessed to teach graphic arts in a fledgling HS digital and traditional lab - I worked with some fabulously creative young people, one who loved art, but as a senior had never had a formal class before. He began working in PS for yearbook, and as I watched him learn, he began mixing images to produce fascinating, original work. I entered several pieces in the First District Congressional Art show and had to defend his use of other images to create something original. They made the cut, he won an award, and he now sponsors a gallery in Savannah. I advocated for digital art, all those years ago :-)

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Olin Gillis
Olin Gillis
Oct 04, 2021
Replying to

His raw materials were previously disconnected images, as opposed to pigment and bristle. He brought them together in a way that no one else had previously done to create something new. That is a creative process. That is art, regardless of materials or tools. We have grown to assume that the process, the tools, and the materials are sacrosanct/immutable. And in doing so, we are missing the point.

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