Art goes Digital – it is not easy!

July is the monsoon season for us. Grey clouds, rain and humidity make it difficult to paint by hand. That is why I usually take it slow during this time of the year. Whether it is about clicking pictures, getting new ideas or creating art: the weather doesn’t help much. Oh! Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t mean I like this season any less.

What I am trying to say is nature is asking you to take a break. Step out and enjoy the music while it plays. After all, nothing in nature blooms 365days. We, artists, cannot be doing the same thing all year round. Hence I use this time of the year to break the monotony by 1) Travelling – so that I get new ideas and inspirations 2) Upgrading – to be better at my work, learn about the trends and maybe polish or learn a skill or two.

I learnt making caricatures digitally last weekend. How to make Reels on Insta the weekend before. Animation in a software called Procreate this weekend. Video editing and photo editing with In shots before that. And sometimes an entire software like Affinity Designer. The list goes on. Earlier we used CorelDraw, Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe Illustrator and Flash for designing and animations.

So I prefer to do more digital artwork during this time. Fortunately I was introduced to the world of computers by my parents at a very young age. I would finish my school work on time to play the latest video game cassette. It wasn’t just me! Everyone in the family had this zeal for tech and computers. And all of us were good at it in our way. I also liked helping my friends with basic computer skills for school and college.

During those days we had to take up computer courses as additional training. Schools and colleges taught mere basics. The specialised art courses did not teach computers either. It was mainly about drawing and painting by hand. Back then, computer courses were pricey. And finding a good teacher was difficult. Many people thought it is an expense that they want to avoid.

However, our thinking was different. I took up training in Graphics and Multimedia professionally. I also had access to some tech journals and magazines that my father had subscribed to for himself. They were indeed helpful in getting started. Later I took up a job in that field for a couple of years. It was mainly to pay my expenses, gain experience and learn work discipline.

After that, I continued to work as a freelancer alongside my studies. Art was considered more as a hobby by everyone. People in India do not think of art as a career. Art is perceived more as time pass in our society because it doesn’t pay much. The race is all about becoming a doctor, engineer or manager for an intelligent child.

Art took a backseat for a while until I completed my education. I started working in the corporate world like everyone else. It was just designing logos, business cards, brochures or other material once in a while here and there. Art for commerce, business or trade is called commercial arts. I did scribble in my office memos. My office colleagues would know it is from my desk because of my art. Even though I had formal training in Graphics Designing, 2D Animation, 3D Animation, Video and Sound Editing and Web Designing, it wasn’t of much use.

The time gap widened and the softwares that I used got redundant. My mom believes ‘No knowledge goes wasted.’ Later when I set up my shop for selling art I started finding all that I learnt helpful. I felt it being put to good use. Even though I use different softwares today and so much has advanced in technology, I can grasp or learn any new stuff easily because of my foundation years. That is why I say ‘Art remains, only the tools keep changing.’

Now I do digital art regularly. My art is available as instant downloads or digital downloads that are printable at my Etsy shop. Once the buyer pays, Etsy sends them the link to download the files. They can download the files and print them at home or with a printing service. The details for downloading and printing are all mentioned.

“Nah! Give me a printed one!” If that came to your mind do not worry. You are not the only one. Many people wish to avoid the hassle of going and getting it printed. They can shop at my Redbubble and Society6 shops. All my shops are by the same name NMARTWORKS.

Society6 is a print on demand service. Meaning I upload my art or designs through the artist panel. Once a buyer purchases a product society6 prints it at their nearest vendor (printing hub) and ships it directly to the customer. It means as an artist I should know how it prints on different surfaces, how the colours will look and how to do the settings for each product. This is where my earlier experience makes a difference. Society6 is a preferred destination for Art Prints both framed and unframed.

Redbubble is also a print on demand service just like Society6 but has different products. Their artist panel is very user friendly. Here one can find artistic stuff like tech products, home and living, stationery and school, travel accessories. Society6 also has products but different ones. And similarly, Redbubble also has art prints but both have a different customer base. I would suggest you visit both and pick the one you like.

Then of course I have to market them on social media. My video and sound editing knowledge helped me there. And my knowledge of web designing helped me with WordPress. Basically all the marketing material and handling my shops. I agree the new apps and upgrades have made the task much ….much easier and faster. We don’t need to put in as much effort or spend as much time anymore thanks to presets and templates. But for a novice, it is like entering a whole new world.

I get a number of queries like; How did you do it, show me! Can I make it? How come yours turned out better? Edit this picture, why can’t I? The app says anyone can do it. The lockdown made so many people digitally savvy. There are numerous resources to learn anything you want including online classes. What they seem to be missing is the foundation.

‘Rome was not built in a day. It requires the same effort, hard work, diligence, discipline, a practice that learning offline would require. Don’t jump! Most people learn a little here and there or ask for shortcuts to get the work done and move on. Best explained by saying I learn some from the first-grade book, a few pages from the fifth grade and then expect a 100% result in the tenth grade. And btw they want to be able to do it like a tenth grader in one month.

I am glad I learnt all that, even applied it at work. Now I only make improvements to get better. Digital is good. But it is not easy! There is a lot we need to know. Best to learn at least the fundamentals and then have a go at it. Have an Arty Week!

Links to my Shops 1) Etsy Shop 2) Redbubble Shop 3) Society6 Shop