A German cartoon mag called “Don Quichotte” has published a survey on whether “digital” caricatures and cartoons, should be eligible for international caricature competitions alongside “traditional” ones. This was supposedly answered by 700 cartoonists and cartoon “fans”. The result was 74%-26% in favour of admitting digital art. This is a welcome, if belated admission that a computer is just another tool in the artists’ toolbox and will be a kick in the pants for those cartoon competition organisers who demand “original” (i.e. marks made on paper with pens, pencils, quills etc.) artwork in order to build a collection of cartoon artwork for their museum/foundation at double quick time.
It does rather muddy the waters for gallery owners though. Collectors like to collect original art. Maybe it’s the frisson of actually seeing the scratchy, messy results of the frenetic panic of a cartoonist attempting to meet his/her deadline. You, as the proud owner of the original artwork, now know that those vast areas of white page, which mere passing readers may have admired as bold compositional flourishes, conceal, in fact, half a dozen previous attempts to paint in a battle scene, now embalmed in half a gallon of Tippex. Whatever the reason, original art attracts higher prices. But what of the “digital” artist? Is his/her output “worthless”? Many cartoonists now routinely use a Wacom board and “magic” infrared pen to create their artworks without ever picking up a sheet of paper. The programmes (Painter, Photoshop, Illustrator etc.) allow almost any stylistic conceit. They are, of course, only as good as the frazzled artisan directing the cursor, so the results of some experiments show as much grace and dexterity as the proverbial cow firing a musket.
Bring on the bright, feather-bedded future, awash with giclee prints.