Being a digital artist is simultaneously absolutely freeing and horribly confining.
Being on a digital platform opens avenues of possibility. Designers and artists bypass the limitations of physics, materials, mistakes, tools, time and workshop space. I realised early on that the intimidation of the empty page can be absolutely suffocating, but is somehow missing when it comes to an empty design field.
The digital domain lets me make mistakes (constantly!) but forgives those mistakes, or let’s me save happy accidents, or make hundreds of variations in duplicate documents, and edits that may or may not pan out. With digital design I need only create a clasp, or a broochback once, save the elements and copy/paste them into a different design when necessary. The confining concerns with materials and waste are eradicated, making the entire process easier, and ultimately less expensive. There is an accessibility bonus, both for the wearer and for the designer, that handmade art with all its hours of labour and physical wear on the body, sometimes makes difficult.
That said, restrictions are not completely absent for the digital designer. My art exists, for the most part, in computers. There is no physical reference for many, many objects that I create. Because of a lack of endless riches it would be impossible for me to print every single design I complete, let along their prototypes and drafts. Every time I order a digital design to be made I have to know that the creation will work, will be the right size, will have a purpose. My inner business person that keeps my inner artist afloat and cashed up needs to know that a piece will sell, will pay for itself, will somehow be worth the expense. Is my inner artist satisfied with just designing a completed piece, or does the obsession with the physical, tactile, tangible thing I’ve made demand the next step?
What, exactly, is the art when it comes to digital creation?
Well. That, and I’m feeling a bit guilty that every time I am asked about my jewellery design, I respond with a noncommittal ‘no new designs yet’. In fact, my hard drive is full with designs, in a hundred different states of completion.
But to the lay person, how can I explain that the finished design on my computer is just as real as the object they were expecting? That, in fact, I’ve made hundreds of pieces of jewellery… They just can’t see them.
I think I just need to bite the bullet, and take a chance on some of my favourites. And, I think I’m ready to press print on a few… Maybe…
What do you think?
The Nest Brooch – part of the Home Coming collection, 2014
The Gills Brooch – part of the Autumn Fungi collection, 2014
(PS, I hate using WordPress on my iPad. What’s even is this app? #frustrating)