An Anchor Point
posted: January 8, 2011
As an illustrator, I've worked for a while now with digital software. The adobe illustrator software has been my favourite. The clean lines I was striving for in some of my painting is more readily accessed through the vector based algorithms of the digital software. Many see it as cold, or not expressive enough. This relates back to the now old complaint about the artistic "truthiness" of the brush mark. Something the great American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein had fun skewering in his work. I've found in personal work the satisfaction of realizing an image in oils, or as a digital print. With painting I've found that the process of pencil drawing base, with layers of oils built-up results in it's own "skin". The physical painting itself becomes an object in the singular. Alternately, when I worked through a piece with software, and then producing a print of the file on quality paper, there is a great sense of satisfaction as well. My process for either is quite different, but working with both media, informs my overall thoughts concerning process, and objective. The process of interpreting, and editing in an observational manner takes me out of the conceptualizing approach of an editorial illustrator. The subject is there, shutdown your mental conversations, and look. Park your ego, and open your eyes. For me there is a two dimensional elegance that vector software can achieve. I know there are many other artists that work, and feel the same. A digital piece, even vector has it's own flavour. It's that flavour that has me going back to it.


Car Wash, vector, 2010...

Base pencil template...

MarkFisher January 8, 2011
Vectoriffic Doug!
Chris Spollen January 9, 2011
Gary Taxali January 9, 2011
I want to see this printed on 20 foot canvas and hung in a gallery. How hot would that be? Really great work, Doug.
Douglas Fraser January 9, 2011
Mark, Chris, and Gary, Thank You. Gary, I'm sure you already know about one of the virtues of vector art, and it's quality of almost limitless scale in printing. I'm an appreciator of rich satin papers. For larger scale, I would want the surface to be of a nature that embraces new materials, like a huge sheet of stretched tyvek. something with a semi smooth satin finish. I've not printed on canvas, it's just when I've see the finish elsewhere, it's lacking something in my opinion. Thanks for seeing it big though!
Chris Whetzel January 9, 2011
Hi Doug. Great images as always. I agree with several of the points you make, and I wish others would also see this program as just a tool to realize visions we don't see working as well in traditional media. Vector art definitely has a "look" of its own that can be difficult to imitate by other means; it is that look that makes me want to work in such a manner. While Photoshop has been moving toward a painterly or comic-style popularity, Illustrator has really become its own visual style. Perhaps that look isn't for everyone, but I wish people wouldn't judge the medium and instead judge the message of the image. We could both name several artists working in vector whose artwork could never be described a "cold" or unexpressive." I also get that same feeling of satisfaction after completing a drawn image, a pulled screenprint, or a printed giclee. In regard to your comment concerning scale, I also love how vector is so flexible! I like to draw small with a max size of around 11x17; things get wonky if I go any larger. But when many projects require very large images that I could never feel comfortable rendering by hand, vector's scaling capabilities let me work comfortably and keeps the client happy at the same time! Isn't that the ideal situation for an illustrator? Enjoy the Day, Chris
Douglas Fraser January 9, 2011
Chris, all good points you make, Thanks.
Richard Downs January 9, 2011
Great piece, Doug. The style in which you embrace this technology makes it art. I also see it big, 9 color silkscreen on 4x8' sheet aluminum and hanging behind a salesman in a Ferrari dealership!
Greg M January 9, 2011
Doug I admire how seamlessly you move between digital and non digital. Few artists, if any, do it as well. More importantly, I love how you present the everyday subject in an extraordinary way. Like Gary and Richard point out above, someone out there needs to get on it, and give this work it's rightful setting.
Gary Taxali January 9, 2011
Lately I've been doing personal works with SUPER toxic lead oil enamel paints on steel. They're so flat and weighted, and on the steel, they're sheer beauty. That would be cool too! Anyway, it's endless and no matter what the media and size you choose, this work is absolutely kickass, Doug.
Douglas Fraser January 9, 2011
Richard, Ferrari! well I guess it would make my work affordable in comparison. Ha! Greg, as a digital artist working with vector software what do you prefer to print on? Gary, very interesting about what you're working with. It would be great to see the finish you're achieving.
Greg M January 9, 2011
I tend to prefer paper. I think flat color/graphic stuff is the only thing that looks good (ie natural) printed on canvas.
harry January 10, 2011
Kickass indeed, want this on my gallery wall BIG as Gary says, but would frame your words on vector art as well. Leading the charge, great stuff. I think we are getting beyond that sort of bias towards computer generated art and in particular vector art. There is some real crap out there with all the whistles and bells of PS and AI. This sir has none of that, simply great art no matter the tools.
Daniel Pelavin January 10, 2011
So far as I have been able to determine, the only thing you cannot achieve in vector art is the exalted "original art," the ultimate value of which rest more on its scarcity and exclusivity than execution. Your point goes beyond even the notion that "a tool is just a tool" and illustrates splendidly that new tools pursued in earnest open new opportunities of expression. Thank you for this. Danny
Douglas Fraser January 10, 2011
Greg, I prefer a paper like surface as well. Not so much on canvas, as I feel it gets in the way of the "flavour". Harry, I believed you'd understand. I do agree that the digital question is relativity mute, but ironically I've experienced negative reactions from the pixel camp users of photoshop. I do think it's a taste thing. Just that some of the status quo are still very attached to their perspective. They seem to feel that the openly digital feel is only worthy of certain less effete, and less romantic visual tasks. Danny, yes the "original" question does persist. Thanks for the support.
Dana MacKenzie January 10, 2011
This would look amazing printed up billboard size. Ah yes - vector: limitless resolution. Great piece. I love the little imperfections in perspective. This could easily be drafted out with pinpoint accuracy, but what you bring to the medium is a personal touch. A human touch. The fact that you appreciate the pros/cons of every medium you work in, translates to your work.
Paul Rogers January 10, 2011
Doug, you handle both approaches so well. I think the question of "digital or paint" comes down to the final purpose of the piece. The one-of-a-kind "original" carries a long history of art with a capital A. Somehow, a print, no matter how beautiful, never carries that same weight for me.
Mark McBride January 10, 2011
I can appreciate a print because I cannot afford the original. While I like your vector art Doug, its the brush work that I have come to know and love more. I am going to piggy bank a bit off of what Mr. Paul Rodgers said, digital art has many possibilities, limitless options but I don't think it can carry the same weight as an original hand piece.
Douglas Fraser January 10, 2011
Dana, another size strength is just how small the files can be. Paul, & Mark, the intimate qualities of a painting are best seen in person. Still as Mark points out prints do offer a greater accessibility. It's not a question so much of digital or traditional, but what communicates. I guess it's the shadow of the old on the new that draws my attention in this subject. The edge of that shadow is fuzzy, or just pixelated, not a curve described by an algorithm, and I do enjoy the arch of the latter just as much as the first. maybe I'll hunt down my old airbrush. cough, weeze....
Richard Downs January 10, 2011
Doug, This is a perfect piece to discuss whether or not this work breaks free from the digital chains that will bind it! How's that for drama? Could your piece hit a wall when it scales up and it gets out of your hands and into the hands of large scale billboard style printers? If you worked with industrial screen printers hand in hand with the process and oversaw the entire production would that elevate the final and transcend it's computer beginnings? Am I over analyzing your piece because I really like it and think that it is more than a piece of computer art? yes:)
Victor Juhasz January 10, 2011
Doug, in your hands even digital feels natural and warm. Fantastic.
Douglas Fraser January 11, 2011
Richard, you given some homework, and inspiration. Victor, thanks for checking in.
Dana MacKenzie January 11, 2011
I love it! Great conversation. To tack onto Richard's point, I recently did a couple of poster designs for both the ArtCrank Portland and ArtCrank Bend poster shows. Both designs were produced digitally, but silkscreened by hand. It was the final printing that really sucked me in and got me hooked on the process, because down to the final pull there was that human potential to mess things up. It was no longer a computer strategically placing colored dots down on paper - but a guy named Chris, sweating his butt off to make sure each print looked right. Needless to say, many prints wound up in the garbage. At the same token, I let a few minor imperfections slide, realizing that that was what made each print potentially unique, and possibly the happy medium between being digital vs traditional.
Dave Wittekind January 11, 2011
Excellent post and wonderful work Doug. For me the appeal of working in Illustrator is the ability to work through countless color and shape iterations quickly and fearlessly. I have no doubt many of the old masters of graphic & poster design would've leapt at the chance to work digitally. On the other hand, I still have a problem with programs like Painter that try to emulate the texture and relief of natural media.They do a decent job, but it still feels like a cheat to me.
Marcela Restrepo January 12, 2011
That's great. Very nice angle!
Leo Espinosa January 12, 2011
I'm with you about Illustrator and about the process, Doug. Both of your techniques carry your voice loud and clear and to me, that's all that matters. Handsome carwash and interesting post.
art January 24, 2011
It's doesn't matter if its charcoal on a cave by a caveman, or done on a computer in you house. Art is Art,and this is Art. Keep it up !
All images copyright Douglas Fraser