Wednesday, August 08, 2012

What computer skills do artists need?

Three questions for you:
  1. Can you be a successful self-employed artist in today's art market without computer skills?
  2. What computer skills does an artist need?
  3. Which of your computer skills do you value most as an artist? (Tell me your top three if you like!)
I've still not got quite got the hang of my Apple Magic Trackpad!


  1. You definitely need computer skills as a self employed artist. You need image and media prep skills like formatting images and at least some understanding of web design or website maintenance

  2. 1. No you cannot be successful without computer skills.
    2. Ability to take and resize good photos. Ability to maintain own website. Ability to maintain own blog.
    3. The above! Also value being able to adjust colors in a photo program to get the photo to look like the painting. Value knowing how to work the camera, to get decent photos of my work. As in so many areas, the more I learn, the more I realize how much I have to learn.

  3. The skills I value most with the computer?
    1. Photoshop skills. Whatever software you use, you ought to be able to size, format and save (and catalog) your images. Also, it helps to be able to design and publish banners, brochures, cards and other visual ads.
    2. Social Media. Just to be able to navigate social media, such as Blogger (or WP) or Facebook and Pinterest, is critical. After this simple skill is in place, one needs to be able to interact with social media with posts.
    3. I value basic skills in organizing my files and typing documents. That may seem very basic, but as one whose school life, up to and including my college and post college educations, lacked any computer presence, I am constantly exploring even simple tools with computers. Call me a Luddite, but I am growing with the need!
    4. I will add the ability to produce and edit video as a new skill on the horizon for artists who want to make your presence known on the net.

  4. Computer is beginning to take the place of pencil and pad. In preparing for a painting I use parts of different photos as different layers on a single frame with Photoshop. It is very easy to make variations of it. Then with black and white versions I check the light and dark distribution. Then I take the final result and use it as input to Corel Painter. Here I try limited color painting versions.

  5. I think it is almost essential these days otherwise you have to pay someone to do it for you, ie photographing, photo editing, uploading etc and when resources are limited this could be a problem.
    I certainly value my Photoshop, Corel and even tho I don't use it quite so much now, Painter and Illustrator. Illustrator is particularly useful for creating, ads, brochures etc.
    I did work in IT for about 15 years so I have a bit of a set up at home, large format printers for giclee printing, 2 macs and a couple of PC's all networked... so a slight advantage but thinking how much it would have cost to buy this kind of service...

  6. Learn to draw with real pencils and charcoal - the computer can teach no art skills because it's world is virtual, second hand and once removed. The drawing surface is unsympathetic slick and glib. Use a computer to moderate and alter images in real time but only after you have learned to do the real thing!

  7. My best in order of most useful:
    1. Photoshop for either preparation of photos for drawing/painting or for creating effects and layers to get ideas or using perspective tool to check accuracy of composition right up to creating work - graphics, drawing etc. for cards.
    2. Illustrator can also be useful for some functions Photoshop doesn't have.
    3. Phone and Ipad drawing painting Apps for sketching out and about- I just got into this - so Sketchbook (lots of tools) and Infinite Painter (mix colours on screen)
    4. social networking - google blog, etc to get comments back on your work and get is seen
    5. would love to buy expensive projector that can project photoshop work and photos onto canvas to give me a good starting point for a painting.

  8. I use my computer to :

    build my website
    post to my blog
    manage social media
    send newsletters to an electronic mailing list
    manage my collectors database
    field inquiries
    send out project proposals
    edit photo references and plan new paintings
    scan my completed work and maintain an inventory
    design advertisements/marketing materials
    write correspondence
    write articles/press releases/etc
    manage banking/bill paying
    invoice customers
    schedule commissions/projects
    review sales figures and make projections
    manage a to-do list/events calendar
    network with other artist groups
    research trends/review exhibitions and museums I cannot visit personally
    request library materials
    order supplies

    I could not have built my business without some basic database knowledge, accounting know how, and photoshop/design software skills. I would say that computer knowledge is key to the success of any small business!!

  9. Question 1:
    Realistically you must have at least basic computer skills if most are handled by another.

    Question 2:
    Interaction with the outside world. Email, website, blog, promotion etc.
    Most art business' require being able to communicate via a computer. Some galleries only accept submissions through email for example. Commercial art business' like illustration etc the same.

    These are the very least you need in my view since it is still possible to do business accounting and maintenance on paper.

    Question 3: Image editing (for me, archiving my art), business maintenance (accounting, records etc), business communication and promotion.

    The scariest part of our entire business on a computer is massive failure/crash where all or even some of it can get lost forever since there is no failsafe system, even back up systems.

  10. Have you seen this interesting link about the need for drawing skills in computer games?

  11. Although I am glued to my computer as much as my easel I do actually believe you can (just!) make it as an artist without computer skills. There still is an older generation of artists who work without them and doing fine. To be a successful artist you need, first and foremost, skill, talent and vision and no-one needs a computer for that. Just a brush.
    But, for computer-savvy people, a computer is darn handy and great fun.

    1. I wonder if they're doing well because they were already established before computers came along?

      Would an artist starting out now be able to become a success without using a computer?

    2. Yeah, I'll bet being established first is a big factor.

      An artist starting out would probably not do well or survive without a computer, it's a tough enough business with a good set of skills and tools.

      If an artist did nothing but create work to keep up with demand they would have to have someone handling the business and computer tasks.

  12. I think it helps in many ways but is far from the bedrock of an art career. It saves money to have computer skills but in all instances you can employ someone else to do these things leaving you more time to work.

    1. I agree. However, this means you must have working capital to employ somebody to do things computer-related BEFORE you start earning income from being an artist.

      For those with limited resources, it pays to learn how to do things for yourself - and how to source and use webware which is free (eg there is absolutely no need for anybody to pay for a website anymore in order to get their art online under their own name)

  13. Resources away from the web are getting fewer and fewer. Paper catalogues and directories are fewer and smaller and always refer to more online. Just see what has happened to the yellow pages.
    My favourite computer resource is being able to find an image of , say, an elephant, and instead of hunting through books there it is at the click of a mouse.

  14. Love these questions! I've seen computer skills invading lots of creative fields. I'm very fortunate to have started my schooling in information technology. I think (1) it's getting harder to be successful without computer skills (2) you need social media and communication options (email) at a mininum. For (3), I value most the comfort I have around learning new technology. I've been able to add skills with less stress than someone who's not comfortable around a computer.


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