Art Gone Digital

With the incredible technology boom we”ve been experiencing since the 1980″s, it”s no surprise that art is going digital. The release of incredibly powerful programs such as the popular Adobe Photoshop CS5 and the ultra useful Wacom Bamboo Tablets has led to many artists going completely paperless and it”s no wonder why. The simplicity of the bamboo tablet in combination with a program like photoshop allows it”s user to have complete freedom in their use of mediums (paint, sketch, marker, etc.) as all of these may be simulated in the photoshop program. Further control of creation is gained by using a Bamboo tablet for hand drawing directly into the program using whichever medium you select. It is true that when first beginning to use a Bamboo tablet, the movement is different than using a regular pencil or charcoal on paper. Aiming and accuracy of placement on your screen in correspondence with how you draw on the tablet does take some practice, but once achieved, you will be surprised at how well this tablet works for any and all types of art pieces.

While many might assume that the art created with completely digital tools is less than, you will be astounded then to find out that some artists are able to create masterpieces in the same way as is done traditionally without the mess, the expensive cost of supplies or canvas, and actually in a more eco friendly way than painting or drawing would be. In fact, although the Photoshop program may seem expensive at nearly $500, later versions are cheaper with this newly released version and Wacom Bamboo tablets range anywhere from $50 to $150 so artists can easily buy for their budget. If you compare these one time cost items that will not need to be upgraded for several years with the yearly cost of art supplies ($100-$500 depending), you actually save quite a bit of money. These tools, both Photoshop and Bamboo tablets, are frequently used by graphic artists, photo editors, and other media artists and have gained popularity in recent years. Both items may be found virtually anywhere online or at most Best Buy stores near you.

Add Video (Speed painting in CS5): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K_NQe57C-k
Screen Captures of CS5:

Featured Artist: Alex Grey

Born November 29, 1953, Alex Grey is an American born artist most known for doing the album art for the alternative band Tool. Unique and notable for his psychedelic style, Alex Grey has been drawing and painting since childhood, encouraged by his father who was a graphic designer and recognized his son’s natural talent.

Since then, he has gone on to create many paintings with a new age spiritual style. Many of his paintings seem to depict Buddhist and Christian teachings and stories, showing his subjects deep in meditation and his own vision of Jesus Christ. Aside from his many evidently spiritual paintings, Alex Grey is also known for his distinct style in painting glowing “x-rays” of people whose internal anatomy is shown in a series of bright colors. He paints numerous pieces demonstrating complete systems in the body including the lymphatic and cardiovascular systems, some of which take many years to complete. He also employs the use of filling in his skies with energy waves and other creative designs to illustrate energy, chakras, and other intangibles. The depth of emotion in the paintings of Alex Grey is evident with the relationships of the people shown in many of his paintings. Such as in the painting titled “Wonder,” a child gazes up at the sky in wonder, eyes filled with clear emotion and innocence as well as the complete anatomy of the child displayed. One other painting by Alex Grey that shows similar emotional effects is the painting titled “Kissing” in which a man and a woman are embracing, their anatomy also displayed, yet this time shown also with their hearts and minds entwined with golden string, clearly demonstrating mental and emotional unity.

Alex Grey participates in a number of art festivals and new age workshops including the upcoming “Pre-Full Moon Workshop: The Magic of Mushrooms with Martin Bridge” on April 16, 2011. His art may be seen in galleries in New York City, purchased online at his website alexgrey.com and noted on the album covers of Nirvana, Tool, The String Cheese Incident and the Beastie Boys. He has been featured in many books as well as having written one himself entitled The Mission of Art (1998). He is the co-founder of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, a non-profit institution in NYC that supports visionary culture and art.

For more information on Alex Grey, his work and appearances please visit http://www.alexgrey.com/.

The Magic of Art Direction in Film

Art directors, in a general sense, are responsible for overall visual effects and how the effects will affect moods within the story and how they appeal psychologically to an audience. They make decisions about creative styles implemented and how they are set in motion.

An art director in film is responsible for working in collaboration with a set decorator and manages a team of set designers, illustrators, model makers, costume designers, and makeup and hair stylists to create the mood and themes called for by the script and director.

Sometimes art direction can make or break a good film and it takes quite a bit of work to make things happen. Such as in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, who could imagine what the movie would be like without the great art direction, costumes, and fantastical effects? The same can be said for many other films including the Star Wars franchise, Harry Potter films, Aliens, various period films, epic war dramas like Saving Private Ryan and Atonement and many more. Although we only see the end result, it’s important to remember that behind every good movie not only lays a great director, actors and editors, but also many great artistic minds.

On Pop Art

Pop art was an art movement in the mid-1950s Britain and late 1950s United States in which artistic tradition was challenged by the use of popular culture images and other mass-produced images to create a collage piece of sorts. A term credited to Lawrence Alloway in the 1950s, pop art includes the use of advertisements and propaganda such as logos and food labels, comic books, and other seemingly ordinary cultural objects to create varying imagery.

Made popular by the likes of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, pop art has been employed in comics, art, media and advertising ever since as a way to combine contrasting images and forced the viewers to see everyday objects together in a different light. While many believe pop art to have little values as real art, many stand by the pieces of pop art as pure artworks that send social, political or other messages among the collages.

What do you think of pop art?

Would you consider pop art as having the same value as an impressionist or surrealist painting?

Let me know what you think!

The History of Anime

Anime, short for animation in Japanese, is a popular animated or cartoon style of art dating as far back as 1917. The anime style we know today was developed most notably by the works of Osamu Tezuka in the 1960s and gained worldwide exposure in the 1980s. The first talkie anime released was called Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka (Within the World of Power and Women) and focused on a family with four children whose father has an affair with his typist as a way to escape the nagging of his wife.

After the success of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Japanese animator Osamu Tezuka was influenced and simplified many of the animation techniques and styles of Disney artists in order to reduce overall costs temporarily to enable the production of anime on a tight budget and schedule. His work in anime has heavily influenced other artists in anime and inspired genres and characters that are essential to anime even now. Dubbed the “god of manga and anime,” Tezuka revolutionized and gave life to the anime done later on that became extremely popular in Japan and Asia, and later the world.

In Japan, anime is considered a form of art. Many different styles and genres exist today, but many employ the use of exaggerated body proportions, large eyes and the use of exaggerated facial expressions to express emotion. Modernly, anime exists in all shapes and forms including serious dramas, comedies, fantasy and sci-fi genres, and more. In fact, anime is seemingly watched by most people in Japan, not just children or young adults as is the case with anime in other places in the world. Anime can be taken completely serious with extensive and complicated storylines or written as a comedy with light-hearted plots that make little sense.

In other parts of the world, anime has been dubbed in many different languages including English, French and German. Different versions of popular Japanese anime have been huge successes in other countries, especially American television and cinema. In American cinema, it has gained positive reviews and industry respect with Oscar nominations in the animated feature category since the 1980s. In American television, dubbed versions of popular anime have been extremely popular among children and young adults. Anime conventions are held worldwide in the Americas, Asia and Europe. While it is argued in American culture as to whether or not anime is considered art, it is commonly accepted as such in Japan and is gaining popularity and recognition with the world’s audiences more and more over time.

Featured Artist: René Magritte

Born November 21, 1898, René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist. Gaining recognition and exposure for his out of the box artistic style, Magritte claimed his goal was to challenge the viewer’s perception of reality and their surroundings. Born in Lessines in Hainaut, Belgium, Magritte was the oldest child of Léopold and Régina Magritte. Although little is known about Magritte’s childhood and early life, it is known that he began drawing lessons at the age of 12. He then later attended the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels where his earliest works included much impressionism and were said to be influenced by Cubism and Futurism.

(Les Amants, 1928)

Much of the later work of Magritte was surrealism. Magritte frequently painted ordinary objects in unfamiliar surroundings. Many claim he wished to create poetry through paint and display thought-provoking images to change the perception of daily, ordinary objects, lending symbolic significance to these by toying with illusions and reality.

His work was shown in New York, United States, in 1936, at the Museum of Modern Art in 1965, and again at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1992.

(La Victoire, 1939)

Magritte died on August 15, 1967 of pancreatic cancer in Brussels, Belgium.

The works of Magritte gained much popularity in the 1960’s and have influence the likes of Andy Warhol and John Baldessari.

His work has influenced conceptual art, pop art and even plagiarized in many advertisements.

The artwork of Magritte is now shown in various art galleries and museums around the world including the United States LACMA.

For more information on the life and works of René Magritte, please visit his website: http://www.magritte.com.

Fashion As A Form of Art: Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga has been a pop sensation and style icon since she rose to fame with #1 hit song “Just Dance” and then followed with the even more popular “Poker Face.” She is one of the top searches on google and seems to be just as famous for her audacious style and attitude as she is for her musical prowess.

A self-taught child piano prodigy at age 4, Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta on March 28, 1986 in New York City to internet entrepreneurs Joseph and Cynthia Germanotta. Going on to compose her first piano ballad at age 13, Gaga went on to perform open mic nights at 14.

Rising to fame in 2007/2008, Lady Gaga was an instant international sensation. Noted for her catchy songs, she stirred up even more controversy with her outfits. Beginning with her “Poker Face” music video in which she wears what appears to be a diamond studded mask over her eyes and one sleeve shirt with spiked objects on the shoulder and waist. Interest peaked even more in the public and press when it was found that Lady Gaga herself had designed many of these outfits.

Fascination with Gaga’s obviously unique fashion continued as she appeared on many a red carpet in outlandish outfits that showed similarities to nuns, widows, and most recently arriving to the Grammys in an egg-shaped vessel carried by four men. Many style critics seem unsure whether to love it or hate it, but Lady Gaga strongly defends her style as an art form that goes along with her message as an artist.

In fact, many of the outfits worn by Lady Gaga claim to have some meaning behind them such as in the egg-shaped vessel, which she says represented being born and helped her focus on her performance and her new highly anticipated album Born This Way (2011) and the message it sends to her fans.

Using fashion also as a way to protest, Lady Gaga is featured below in a photo from her controversial and highly praised music video “Telephone,” much of which speaks out against censorship.

All in all, with Gaga’s undeniable talent and charisma, I think it’s safe to say she’s here to stay. With all of her wacky styles and crazy music videos, she seems to have touched the youth of the world with her words, fashion, charisma, and message of acceptance and empowerment for all the misfits and outcasts of the world. Look for Lady Gaga’s Born This Way (2011) album in stores on May 23, 2011.

The Art of Being a Geisha

Geisha, contrary to what many believe, are not prostitutes. In fact, the Japanese word “geisha” literally translates to “art person” or “artist.” So, the art of a geisha is the art of performance and the embodiment of all things beautiful. A high paid profession; geisha were both men and women, though male geisha disappeared in the 18th century. Some geisha might start their training as early as 3 to 5 years old and follow different levels of apprenticeship into adulthood when they would become full geisha. Once they reach a certain age (15-18 depending), they either become a maiko or a full geisha and are then debuted into society. Maiko translates to “half-jewel” and usually denotes a young girl who is not yet a full geisha, but has debuted into society already in her set profession and for half the wages of a full geisha. Maiko cannot be over the age of 21. Those over 21 would be accepted into the geisha community as a full geisha.

Dating back to the 600s B.C., geisha began as displaced girls trying to make a living for their family by entertaining high class citizens or selling sexual services. Later, they became hybrid performers and courtesans who would entertain married men. In the way we know geisha, as existed in the 18th century, geisha were not courtesans. Actually, courtesans or prostitutes existed, but as a profession separate from the life of a geisha. Geisha were strictly artists and erudite companions.

Surprisingly, the first geisha were men who entertained guests by performing or making them laugh while they waited to see courtesans. Beginning in the 17th century, men geisha disappeared and geisha became a term only referring to females. Geisha worked within “pleasure quarters” (sole locations where prostitution was legal) where they were often imprisoned and forbidden to sell sex, but instead were trained as high class entertainers by the highest ranking geisha of their okiya (geisha house). Many geisha were well-versed in storytelling, dancing, singing, and playing music while some were renowned poets or calligraphers. The highly evolving fashion of the geisha was imitated throughout society. Classes existed among geisha to express rank: some geisha slept with their male customers while others strictly entertained them at social gatherings in bars and teahouses. The virginities of many maikos were often sold to the highest bidders.

The decline of the geisha occurred during WWII when many women had to go work in factories. After the passing of WWII, the profession of the geisha did not see a revival until the 1960s, but much about it had changed. Today, geishas still exist, but girls are no longer sold into the life of a geisha and sex is a private matter of each geisha, rather than something to be sold to the highest bidder.


Art Gone Digital

With the incredible technology boom we’ve been experiencing since the 1980’s, it’s no surprise that art is going digital. The release of incredibly powerful programs such as the popular Adobe Photoshop CS5 and the ultra useful Wacom Bamboo Tablets has led to many artists going completely paperless and it’s no wonder why. The simplicity of the bamboo tablet in combination with a program like photoshop allows it’s user to have complete freedom in their use of mediums (paint, sketch, marker, etc.) as all of these may be simulated in the photoshop program. Further control of creation is gained by using a Bamboo tablet for hand drawing directly into the program using whichever medium you select. It is true that when first beginning to use a Bamboo tablet, the movement is different than using a regular pencil or charcoal on paper. Aiming and accuracy of placement on your screen in correspondence with how you draw on the tablet does take some practice, but once achieved, you will be surprised at how well this tablet works for any and all types of art pieces.

While many might assume that the art created with completely digital tools is less than, you will be astounded then to find out that some artists are able to create masterpieces in the same way as is done traditionally without the mess, the expensive cost of supplies or canvas, and actually in a more eco friendly way than painting or drawing would be. In fact, although the Photoshop program may seem expensive at nearly $500, later versions are cheaper with this newly released version and Wacom Bamboo tablets range anywhere from $50 to $150 so artists can easily buy for their budget. If you compare these one time cost items that will not need to be upgraded for several years with the yearly cost of art supplies ($100-$500 depending), you actually save quite a bit of money.  These tools, both Photoshop and Bamboo tablets, are frequently used by graphic artists, photo editors, and other media artists and have gained popularity in recent years. Both items may be found virtually anywhere online or at most Best Buy stores near you.

Add Video (Speed painting in CS5): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K_NQe57C-k
Screen Captures of CS5:

The Art of Video Games: True or False?

It has long been argued that video games can never be and will never be considered art, but with fantastical game releases such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty and Final Fantasy, some might argue back that video games are redefining what art, cinema and entertainment are entirely.

World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Final Fantasy are international best-selling games. They are both loved and revered by many gamers worldwide for their incredible cinematics, great storylines, and seemingly innate ability to transport gamers into vividly colorful worlds of mysticism and might. The fans’ love is so deeply felt that many attend conventions in full character dress in the same way that movie and book characters might be imitated.

The argument that video games may never be considered art, especially by the likes of Roger Ebert in my honest opinion, are simply the angry banter between the old generation and the new. You cannot really even compare cave paintings or the brilliance of Da Vinci to the Call of Duty series or any of the Final Fantasy games, but I think the point is that you shouldn’t compare them. To me, comparing these completely different art pieces is doing them a disservice as they are their own entities in their own right. Each belongs to their time, place, and their own medium.

Even so, video games have come a long way from their small beginnings. Take Pac-Man, for instance. I would not dream of calling that art in the slightest, nor would I consider even Super Mario a form of art really, but with the advancement of video games and the presence of some top games today, it is hard to ignore their artistic and creative value. Consider the cinematic trailers for some of these games such as Folklore, Final Fantasy or Halo and imagine the time and effort the character designers, riggers and various level designers who spend hours toiling over the characters, environment designs, level designs and all the mechanics that go into that. Not only are the hours spent equal to an artist’s own piece if no greater than, but the result is to very similar effect if not in a different medium.

I will conclude with the opinion that I think video games are entirely art. As defined in my college beginning art class, art is considered art when it is a reflection of and/or imitation of life. Is that not the main function of story-based video games?

World of Warcraft Cinematic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIJiWQMsVOE

Final Fantasy Cinematic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJPbozRomX4

Call of Duty Cinematic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWIJTydRLt8

Halo Cinematic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2zefO4ak2c

Folklore Cinematic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKTU6xJF42E

Comment and let me know what you think!