Embracing Technology As An Artist

Grass Orchid Painting from Chinese Brush Painting an Instructional Guide by Ning Yeh. Ning wrote this book in 1986 on an Apple IIc computer and it is still once of the most useful, and influential books on Chinese Brush Painting.

No Part of the Process of Being an Artist is Untouched by the Effect of Technology

I've been involved in producing many types of art projects over the last 30 years. If there is one common thread that crosses all the experiences in all the different art forms that I've been involved in, it is the effect of technology on the production, promotion, and even the definition of what it means to be an artist.

I'm from a generation where we still remember when photographs had to de developed in dark rooms, movies were filmed on 8mm or 16mm film and were edited by splicing film together and music was recorded with expensive tube microphones and 2" analog tape.

Every industry I've been involved in underwent the same transformation process. At first, everyone dismissed the technology. Then they marginalized it as being inferior to the older more expensive ways. Finally every serious artist I knew was eventually faced with a choice: embrace technology or risk being made irrelevant by technology's transformation of their art form.

Fine Art is the Last Holdout

Fine Art is one of the last holdouts, stubbornly resisting being changed by technology. Asian art, in particular, revels in being an ancient art form and still adopts very old tools like handmade brushes, paper and ink.

What has changed even in fine art is the way that art is promoted and appreciated by audiences. With the advent and dominance of social media, the process of promoting oneself as an artist has been made available to anyone who is willing to embrace the technology and apply some patience and persistence over time to expose their art and find their audience.

Technology is Supposed to Empower

For those of us who dislike technology, it is important to realize that in every case the purpose of technology is to empower an individual person to have a greater impact on the world around them. And in large part it is successful. Music artists like Beck and Billie Eilish recorded platinum selling albums on relatively inexpensive home equipment. YouTube is redefining stardom more democratically as tens of thousands of content makers are building audiences in the millions and earning comfortable livings doing all kinds of artistic activities.

Not Just Art But Everything

Avoiding technology not only limits you as an artist but also can make you a kind of second class citizen. The internet is such an efficient means of distribution that it is being used to distribute all kinds of things in a way that is supposed to be fair and efficient. Unfortunately for those of us who hold ourselves away from computers, this puts us at the end of the line. We've seen it with frivolous things like concert tickets but it also is being used extensively for more critical things like vaccine distribution and voting.

Some Practical Tips

  • If you are someone who has yet to embrace technology start by examining and softening your attitudes. Instead of saying, "I hate computers" say, "I've found computers difficult to understand in the past but my mind is open to how they may be used to make my life better."
  • Realize that computers are a skill that can be learned like any other skill and as time goes on, computers are actually getting easier and easier to use.
  • If you are unfamiliar with Apple products, visit an Apple store. They have an army of people willing to demystify their iPhones, iPads, and computers.
  • Use computers and devices like smart phones and tablets as a way to connect with kids and grandkids. If you question whether or not computers, smartphones or tablets are designed to be intuitive, just watch a child as young as 4 years old play with them. Immediately they learn how to watch videos or look at photographs on them. When you are visiting with kids or grandkids ask them to show you something on their device.
  • Take a class. Senior Centers are amazing resources. City planners have been preparing for the baby boomer generation for decades and have built palaces called Senior Centers which offer free classes on computers.
  • Realize by receiving these emails you are already showing some proficiency of using a computer in a way that can help your artistry
  • Don't be shy to call us. Obviously we aren't in the business of providing free tech support to our customers but we are your OAS Family and when appropriate, we are willing to help you with things like how to select a free gift lesson with a qualifying order or how to find our videos on YouTube or sign up for our OASLife Facebook Group.
  • Have fun with the process of all learning including technology. Life is so much easier if you think of it as a game. Mistakes just mean that you are learning! Always remember to enjoy the process and to keep telling yourself that you can do anything that you focus on!

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