They always say that, in order to be a good artist, one needs original ideas, a unique form of expression and great technical skills. When it comes to choosing a medium, creatives have been going hand in hand with the trends and innovations of their times for centuries, picking just the right tool to help them visually transmit their thoughts and feelings. Think of photography and the year 1839, when a camera was used for the very first time to provide a physical representation of our reality - or better yet, our view of it. Something similar happened in the 1950s and the close decades that followed. With the first computers, those in the know started experimenting with them, creating algorithmic designs which today could be considered the first pieces of computer or digital art. And so, the digital technology became the new painting brush for many painters, the new pen of many illustrators, the new keyboard of many musicians, and with the fast evolution of computer programs and graphics, digital art has managed to establish itself as a strong realm of its own that is here to stay.
Because of that wonderful, boundless freedom it gives artists of whichever medium, abstract art continues to gain great popularity. Sometimes intertwining with the notions of conceptual art and surrealism, abstraction works far from realism, embedding its ideas into shapes, forms, textures, colors. Due to such nature, abstract art often issues no explanation, but only transmits an idea, a thought, an emotion that sometimes not even its creators cannot explain through any other way but the one we see in their artworks. With all this in mind, it could be said that abstraction attributes visual appearance to the philosophical concepts of our consciousness, thus requiring as much creative input as it can get. As the possibilities of digital art kept growing in this sense, it was only logical that these two movements collided to create an alluring field for creativity.
As I mentioned, by using the means of the digital technology - computers, if you will, although today we can also talk tablets and even mobile phones - artists can create all kinds of arts, from paintings, drawings and sculptures to sounds, installations, graphic designs, computer-generated codes and images and so on. To do so, digital artists also start from a blank surface and a painting tool, only their environment is completely virtual and inside a software, it often being a program like Photoshop, Illustrator or some other painting application. Because of a mind-boggling variety in tools that these softwares offer, abstract digital art became perhaps the most popular form of such expression, especially during the last decade, in which many fresh and exciting features saw the light of day. Although mostly used for photography, Photoshop proved to be one of the most popular playgrounds for abstract artists, in part because of it being simple to use as well.
In virtual world, to paint an abstract artwork with Photoshop is like finding yourself inside a big warehouse with an empty canvas before you and every tool you can possibly imagine in real life. You can start by randomly painting with brush or pen tools, or you can generate patterns, import an existing picture and manipulate it, apply a filter, cut out a piece, create a collage made of different layers, insert shapes, draw lines, navigate gradients, modify every single pixel according to your wishes, create 3D forms and micro-animations, mount movies and videos, anything you could possibly imagine. Once done, you can print your artwork or present it on any given screen, publish it on the world wide web, project it onto another surface, make infinite copies of it or make it all disappear for good. The options are truly endless.
As the abstract movement is making a comeback to contemporary trends, we can only expect more of it, and with every update, Photoshop and other programs will only look to fuel the creativity of digital artists even further. Perhaps we can already take a look of the future and proclaim abstract digital art the next big revolutionary thing of the arts world as we know it.
Featured image: Jonathan Foerster - Vena II. Courtesy the artist
All images used for illustrative purposes only