While digital art has been around since the 1960s when computer-generated imagery was in its infancy, it is only in the past few decades that it has exploded on the world thanks to incredible advancements in publishing and mobile technology.
The creative process in painting, sculpture and music has been revolutionised to the point that it is now rare for artworks not to encompass at least some aspect of digital enhancement, even if only at the planning stage.
Today, net art and virtual reality pieces have pride of place in many prestigious galleries, while digital art techniques are seen everywhere in the mainstream media, including social networks and streaming services.
Some of the world’s best artists feature in the digital space and have forged their own unique styles that resonate with millions globally.
Californian Joey Chou’s unmistakable illustration style, noted for its clean and precise lines, has made him a popular and respected in Hollywood studios such as Disney and Dreamworks, according to reputed online design platform, Vexels.
Johannesburg based Tasia M.S. is another talent identified by Vexels as a dominant force in the global art game on account of her strong female figures, including “super pastel fairy queens” and “urban street-style inspired girls”.
More South Africans are taking up this space, Pretoria digital artist Lethabo Huma, is known for work that mirrors her emotional responses, and Bloemfontein’s Kyle van Wyk, famed for having an electric portfolio.
Ukrainian Alena Tkach has become a household name in children’s books where her depictions of animals tug at the heart strings.
Amazing dreamscapes swirling with clouds and stars are the trademarks of artists like American Photoshop guru Anna McNaught and Croatian wunderkind Renato Prkic, both of whom enjoy huge followings on Instagram, says publishing platform Medium.
The diversity of these artists speaks to the power of technology as a democratising tool.
One of the exciting things about the digital revolution is that it is making art programmes so accessible to so many more as artists can now draw on their smartphones simply by downloading an app.
According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, mobile technology has “made art mobile. Art is everywhere”.
Not only is everyone with a smartphone now an audience member, but they can also be the artists themselves.
As far back as 2008, in one of the earliest examples of mobile performance art, audiences were asked to cycle through London hooked up to a smartphone hiding voice recordings of confessions and secrets on wireless networks around the city for others to find.
This “art is everywhere” reality means that smartphones need to deliver state-of-the-art technology – and importantly, at affordable prices – like never before.
That is why brands like TECNO Mobile, Africa’s Number 1 smartphone brand in 2020, is pulling out all the stops to produce high-performance, big screen and cinema-quality devices that allow artists to let their creativity flow without worrying about failing battery life and poor refresh rates.
TECNO’s Spark 7 series, launched in South Africa in September, features an ultra-fast G80 chip and 90Hz refresh rate, guaranteeing lightning-fast speeds for artists to bring their creations to the world.
A massive 6.6-inch edge-to-edge display, complete with Super Night Mode, provides the perfect canvas, while the phone’s 5000mAh battery retains phone power for an incredible 14 days without recharging, making those days of frustration over dark screens a thing of the past.
The great thing is free drawing apps like Paintology, which can be downloaded from Google Play on the Spark 7, are not only for professionals.
Budding digital Picassos have an opportunity to watch numerous in-app video tutorials and take part in digital drawing exercises to improve their skills. Where the tablet drawing method requires a high level of competency in photo editing software, the app makes it easy.
It is citizen artistry at its finest and most convenient.