Monday, February 16, 2009

Linux + Art, is there such a thing?

Most of us are totally convinced that the only shoes we can run in are Nike and Converse. We have made an industry out of running, heck there are even running magazines. It is the same with computer generated art. We have made an industry out of it. The big guns are Photoshop and Illustrator and other software that are Microsoft and Apple based. Some insist you can't be serious about computer art unless you use these programs. It's very much like saying you can't do otherwise, we won't accept it, and if you manage to do it, you are the only one.

It's also been suggested that you can't make art unless your trained. This assumes that you as an artist are pursuing a career in the commercial art world. Now with your accepted credentials you can work anywhere in the world as an artist. Canned and programmed, the artist who works for some company never really gets into what drew him into art in the first place, to be able to realize his own work.

Well, there are so many assumptions that we forget the fundamental ability of an artist is to take what is around them and formulate a new view so that we see things differently. I could give many examples from a guy drawing portraits using an Etch-a-sketch to another who uses a cheap ball-point pen to do photo-realistic work...........So why is it so hard to imagine doing artwork on a Linux computer? Linux is not taught in the art schools, or any school for that matter. Linux is so not the industry standard, the programs do not meet up to the standards, tools and functions and requirements and.........."You can't make a Linux based art business, it won't work."

I once heard of an artist not affording his art-ware, plucked his own hair out to make his brushes and I can't tell the stories of thousands of African artist who made their own paints and dyes of various substances to paint on bark, fabric and walls. We acknowledge and give great respect to them and their works. But now you have to use the industry standard training, tools, practices and materials in order to do art.

Then it is assumed I am not a purist to my Linux cause if I take the work created in Linux and pass it over to a MS or Apple computer to print out, because printer drivers for the wide format printers I prefer are not available yet for Linux.

Tools, training, practices, standards, credentials, you have to wonder if it is really art anymore.

The part that struck and stuck to my bones was an interview with an African crafts person many years ago. He was asked why he crafted. His answer was "I just want to make beautiful things." Yes folks, there is an art gene or it is just how our brains are wired.

So today, Linux (GIMP and Inkscape and others) is my pulled out hair to make a brush, my Etch-a-sketch, my cheap ball-point pen, my home made paint and dyes and even my running shoes of recycled tire treads. My motive is, "I just want to make beautiful things." And I hope people can appreciate what I have chose to call "art via Linux".

I think I have to add some background texture to them but I like the simplicity. It is all a blending of my African sensibility (I still have some!), technical drafting and other things using Linux tools. I am working on the print, pricing and marketing aspect, but things are coming along. My feeling is that art should be lived with. After all these years I am still not seeing what I like on the market. Perhaps I can put it there. Yeah, I just want to make beautiful things too!


Unknown said...

Dear Mr. Johnson —

or may I call you Arno — I just read your post, enjoyed it and admired your artwork. I am not an artist myself, only an amateur of arts (amateur=lover) and a sort of sophomore Linux enthusiast. I am also somewhat familiar with artists' socioeconomic struggles.

I very much like the idea of promoting the combination of Linux & art. I'd like to show you a sort of joking (which does not exclude serious thoughts and intentions behind it) representation of that idea: My avatar. I hope you enjoy it.

All the best!


rno said...

Piraja, I am glad you enjoyed my post. Linux + Art is not a strange thing just under appreciated. Computer art itself still strikes fear in the minds of art traditionalist. And many digital artist's work never leave the computer screen, but the will to explore other avenues is there.