can CG break into the Art World?



I think the artists motives are key:

Not all artists are going for a big market. I know and know of many artists who paint for the love of painting, pure and simple, (and sculpting whatever). For them its not about the money, in fact most of them know that they will live in a relatively low income bracket.

Yes we are definitely in a new paradigm, but I don’t think pre CG artwork is going to go the way of the dodo bird (traditional commercial art will likely dissapear, because it for the most part ended up in a production enviroment anyways). So called fine art is another story.

There is alot of hype and crap in the ‘high art’ realm. There is also work which is not crap, and could only exist as a singular entity - a lesson I learnt standing in front of ‘the red studio’ by matisse (reproductions will never do it justice, and it could never have been done in CG) There are many contempory artists who could be used as examples - Philip Pealstein, Chuck Close, Jasper Johns (who I am sure would be hated by most people on this forum).

As far as the definition of high art you have given - you are defining the art market - not the art - two totally different things (and I know you knew that :slight_smile: ).



Yes, but I think many people define it that way too, and that’s the problem. That causes many cg artists to feel ‘inferior’ or left out, because they know (rightfully so) that no one will ever pay a million for a single print of a cg image.

But this I think will change, it could take 50 years or more but it will happen.

(reproductions will never do it justice, and it could never have been done in CG)

One day printers will be able to synthesize or reproduce on a molecular level. Then everyone in the whole world will be able to enjoy perfect copies of high art, no one will be able to sell originals for millions anymore, no one will be able to tell if a work was originated in “traditional media” or digital media, and we can finally say goodbye to the opportunists and speculators and just enjoy art for arts sake.


I’ve sold a few prints of my CG work, but I’ve always compared it more to photography than works on canvas – it’s a better analogy, I think.

Photographers can also make more-or-less unlimited duplicates of their work, so in order to maintain the value of the work, they commit to ten prints at size X (large print), twenty at size Y (medium), one hundred at size Z (small), then all of those are signed and numbered and the negative is retired – although not usually destroyed. Either that, or the photographers sell the rights to their image for a certain amount of time (stock company or agency), but that’s getting more on the commercial end of things.

The trick with CG art, like photography, is giving the appearance of safeguarding the investment people are making in the art.

It can be argued, however, that many of those who buy and sell ‘fine art’ don’t really care about the art at all – it’s the perceived value they’re interested in.

We’re talking about completely different markets, and I don’t see that changing any time in the future.

If you’re talking in terms of CG artists getting respect on par with ‘fine’ artists, however, that day is coming soon.


i completely forgot Walter Benjamin. in 1936 he wrote the essay:

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

about the impact of cinema and photography on the art world. a must read on the subject of copies.

and this is a really interesting perspective :slight_smile:

i think that what makes CG goes banana, or anything digital, is really this ability to have an image, a sound or a movie anywhere in the world in just a couple of seconds. it´s a much deeper step than the one Benjamin talks about.

and that´s something many people have not grasped yet (read: the movie and phonographic industry for example). the most recent big event being the revenge of the sith in the internet (read: anywhere in the world) a couple of minutes after opening in cinemas. without a single penny from a corporation to back this kind of huge distribution.



If you’re going to look at art from a business perspective… then its arguable.

If youre going to look at art from an Artistic perspective… then the person trying to argue should shut his closed minded trap.

Art is a business when it comes to making money, like any other thing. The beauty of working on digital art for films and games is that youre not only creating this for your client; you are creating it for the audience as well… and for your name out there. Digital art is very much a community thing… its not just enclosed for rich buyers and the sorts… I believe its better to get a fixed job doing cg than hoping someone buys your paintings. You have to remember… traditional artists only sell paintings at such insane prices when theyre considered ‘‘mature’’ artists in their 50’s.

Anyways, if youre doing art only for the money… then stop now.


Art is Art. No matter how its made! You put effort in it all and you always get some results(aint saying they have to be good), Maybe you do use a bit more time if you do it manualy but that shouldnt matter, should it? You use maybe even more time on digital art, caus when you have finished the render you probably wil go back to it and maybe change something. Anyways to come to the point.

These days we can make copyes of anything with the technology we have in our hands. And lets face it, if oyu only make 10 prints of sumin you have made, and you dont want to make more prints (ever) then the value can go up in the future.

haa im tierd soo im probbably talkin about sumin i know very little about. But anyways i just want to tell you all that you can never set a price on art even if it is digital or not.

Night all @@



I think your point is correct, but it only applies to the very top level of film production. If you look at it realistically, what are the chances of someone working in the CG industry actually benefitting from that several hundred million profit? Most people working in CG are production artists–they have no say in the screenplay, direction, casting, and do not get a cut of the pie when the box-office numbers, toy sales, foreign distribution…etc come in. At the most they might get a nice Christmas bonus, and they get to have their names in the credits–which most movie-goers don’t read. Your average movie-goer couldn’t care less who modelled that creature or textured that building. Film is all about the actors, director, and writer–everyone else gets ignored by the media. The general media always interview the voice actors, but never the actual animators. You could spend a lifetime that way, and no one outside of your life’s small circle will remember who you are after you die–unless you make a point to make a name for yourself as an individual creative mind–not just a production guy.

However, a gallery painter is the entire creative force onto himself. He doesn’t get told what to do by the director, producer, art director, lead artist…etc. Everything he does is his idea, his inspiration. What he paints is his, and what gets sold, is split between him and his agent (or the gallery). If you can make a name for yourself, your pieces will sell from $10,000~$50,000 each easily in galleries. If you are good, you will be in demand, and you would basically sell everything you paint before you even paint it–people will have to fight for your paintings, to the point of using lottery systems to see who gets to purchase your next painting. There will be monographs of your work published, and you will leave your mark in this world in a more tangible way than any modeller, texture artist, art director, or animator at a CG studio. Even if you’re not a fine artist but an illustrator, you will still go down in history, and you will still have monographs published of your works.

I think this is really a personal choice. Some people want that personal achievement, and no amount of working on other people’s ideas will satisfy that need. You can have your artworks you’ve done for a studio published in one of those “The Art of XXXX” books, but you are sharing the limelight with dozens and hundreds of others. But as an individual creative mind that has an individual career that doesn’t require a whole group of people, you are remembered as an individual. (And that’s why people like you and me write screenplays and aim to have our own stories told, because we will never be satisfied only working as a cog in the machine on other people’s creations)

For many people, they stopped being a production guy and became creators because of malcontent with the creative vision of the person that’s calling the shots. There are times when people just want to be part of a team and work on something they could really believe in, without having to be responsible for making any vital calls on anything, but if what they’re working on no longer satisfy that need to feel proud of the work being done, then that malcontent rears its head and they’re off to wanting to be a creator instead of a production guy. But for some, they are lucky enough to have always worked for a great visionary, and they are content with just helping to bring those visions to fruition. I can imagine the guys who work at Valve on Half-Life series, or people working with Steven Spielberg, or people working at Bioware…etc being totally satisfied working on creative ideas they can be proud of. But if one day the creative ideas start to suck, then there’s a chance one of the production guys will jump ship and try to become a creator himself, so that he could once again be working on a creative idea he could be proud of. I mean, why would Doug Chiang try to do Robota? He had a cushy job at ILM working on one of the most famous IP’s in the universe, but something drove him to want to be a creator of his own universe.

To get back to the CG job vs. being a gallery painter comparison–look at it this way. The chances of you becoming a good fine art painter (or commercial illustrator) and be known as an individual creative talent, is higher than becoming a well-known creator in CG film. You could work a lifetime in CG and never get to write and direct a CG feature film.


I think your point is correct, but it only applies to the very top level of film production. If you look at it realistically, what are the chances of someone working in the CG industry actually benefitting from that several hundred million profit?

Yeah that wasn’t maybe the best comparison… I was kind of thinking more towards the future, when a single CG artist can do - well whatever I think of is probably going to be too small. For us CG artists the sky is literally the limit… not so for the traditional artist, who will be working exactly the same way a hundred years from now (or he won’t be a ‘traditional’ artist). This is not necessarily a bad thing (though it does seem like it would get boring in the long run).

I just can’t believe people who get paid 5 or 6 digits for painting something that could be done by anybody off the street, in about less time than it takes to drink a cup of coffee and eat a sandwich, are being 100% honest about their art and motivations.

Hey, I think I just invented a new art form - Delegative Art. I hire a bum off the street, sit there and have my lunch, while I direct him how to fill a canvas with paint. When my lunch is done, the art work is done, the bum gets paid his ten bucks and leaves, and I call my agent. He tells me the New York art scene is so hot for my new art that it’s already sold - and I just made another cool 45,000 dollars.


I totally agree! I have been fighting with myself over that exact same conflict. Whether to work for a company and just do their bidding, or to take the risk and fulfill my own creative purpose in life. I have decided on the latter! :slight_smile:


Yeah, I personally think that there always will be something special and unique with something that is “paint on canvas” or “sculpted wood/marble” etc. And some people will always be drawn to the hands-on “authentic” feel to it. Digital art definitely has its own unique qualities but I don’t think it will ever replace traditional art practice.

When photography was first invented in the 19th century it was thought that it would/could destroy painting and the other traditional arts. 200 years later photography has developed into its own unique art form, and painting is still thriving and developing just as before.

And I would personally prefer to be using real paint and creating art in the real natural world than sitting in front of a screen for my whole life :slight_smile: But that is just me!


Well, I’m not a fan of abstract expressionism, conceptual, or any other type of “intellectual masturbation” type of art. The painters I pay attention to are the painters with true talent and skill that I respect–people like Richard Schmid, Jeremy Lipking, Scott Burdick, Pino…etc. They are very successful and demands for their works far exceeds their ability to fulfill them. Morgan Weistling, another of the successful painters I respect, is so hot that collectors use lottery system to see who gets to buy his next painting. These guys are the real deal–master painters in ever sense of the word. The DVD’s of their painting sessions are real eye-openers. Watching them actually painting each brushstroke and explaining the creative choices they make as they paint–you cannot fake that. I’m particularly fond of these painters because they carry the tradition of Sargent and other bravura painters. No guy off the street can do what they do.


The CG images on CGtalk are mostly what I’d call “fast delivery”. The thing with illustrations, animations and whatnot is that they have to deliver their content instantaneously. A frame will only last so long and you can’t expect people to really look at an illustration for more than a few minutes, not if the message is aimed for any audience wider than just the enthusiasts.

I admit that I’m not a big fan of hanging around art galleries, but I’m the first to admit that that’s probably because I prefer fast delivery over slow. There’s lot’s of that “I could do that in five minutes” -stuff around, but you have to take note of the fact that those traditional artists responsible for it are mostly immersed in a slow delivery culture.

There’s no telling what you can find in a splotch of paint, if only you spend enough time looking at it. And most importantly, get over the first negative reaction. I rarely do, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say there’s just opportunism and greed behind those splotches.


I’ve been thinking about this for a while as well, to me there is CG art which is as good as any other art form now. The problem comes when you talk about selling it as art. Since there is no “original” you will never get a comparable price for what traditional art sells for. Its only cmparable to other prints.

However as a commercial venture it is sold in different forms, such as games/films etc.

Someone mentioned Ray Ceaser, yes he does sell prints and they do fetch a reasonable amount but generally only the same sort of price that prints go for of traditional paintings. Compared to the originals of traditional paintings they go for pennies.


And I would personally prefer to be using real paint and creating art in the real natural world than sitting in front of a screen for my whole life :slight_smile:

But that’s what I’m trying to explain - in just a couple decades from now CG will have changed a lot.
What do all CG artists want? A better interface. Looking back 20- 30 years, have they gotten their wish? Yes, and then some. There’s quite some difference between today’s Cintiq and a card hole-puncher! Now imagine another 30 years into the future. Maybe the interface will be so cheap you can have a different one for each type of painting you want to do - a paper one, a canvas one, a watercolor board one… you un-roll it, press a button, and it takes on the look and feel of whatever ground you can imagine. Same with your brush tool. Then you paint, and the image is saved as a molecular file, 500 Terabyte or whatever, but you can re-use the “canvas” later. Then you print the image using nano technology, and it looks, feels and smells just like a real oil painting. With the difference that you can animate it if you want, or make the colors glow in ultraviolet if you want, or… I’m sure someone will come up with something wild none of us can even imagine yet. :slight_smile:


Another issue I have been contemplating over the past few months is what does CG, whether it be 2D or 3D or a mix offer over a traditional painting on canvas. Say you have an absolutely perfect and stunningly rendered 2D or 3D CG image and you also have a traditional oil painting of the exact same standard. The only way you can get the CG piece out the into the real world is to print it as aforementioned. With the painting it already exists in the real. But its existence in the real offers it many advantages over a print - canvas texture, paint texture, paint reacting to light/shadow etc. With current technology there is no way that a CG can match this.

When it comes to displaying a static (non-moving) image a traditional painting is still far far ahead of what any digital piece can offer. When an audience is viewing the work it shouldn’t matter what tool was used to create it, whether it be Maya, Photoshop, or oil paint. The only thing that matters is the final resulting piece of art. There is just something special about the texture, feel, and light of an amazing traditionally painted image. I have yet to see anyway a CG still could match this unique quality.

The place CG art obviously has something incredible to offer is in moving-image art, whether it be animation, video art, or film. Here we have something that a traditional painting cannot easily excel at. And even if you were to hand paint every frame of an animation traditionally it could still only be displayed through a TV or a projector - no different from how a CG piece would be displayed. There is still that special unique “natural” quality that hand-drawn animation, or hand stop-motion animated characters can offer, but CG art is a whole lot closer than it is in the static image art space.

Just something theories I have been going through in my head, debating the merits of traditional and CG art…


All those ideas about new digital canvases sound great and exciting. I definitely look forward to all sorts of things like that happening, and I’m sure they will change and create various new art forms.

I still think that there will always be something unique and special about creating something with traditional media. It comes down to how far you think computers will be able to replicate the real, and if they will truly be able to replicate the randomness of what nature and real life offers. The problem is someone always has to design how a digital watercolor brush will work, or how spreading differently colored thick oil paint into itself works. If you are creating a traditional water color every slight movement, breath of air, slant of the paper, of the brush affects the drip and flow of the colored water. Every instant the artist is at the canvas is unique. The complete randomness of life and existence is affecting their work. Computers (unless something like AI truly happens) will always be programmed and “told” how to do certain things, they will be replicating what we can already do in the Real.

I think where computers stand out is where they are generating something we can’t in the real. I’m thinking of electronic music compared with midi of traditional instruments as an example. Uniquely computer generated sounds and music really are special and different - they could not exist if it were not for computers. On the other hand, midi is recreating and replicating what already exists in the real. Even the best midi sounds pale in comparison to a true unique orchestra.

I really can’t see the computer ever completely replacing a violin or paint on canvas. It will however bring its own special gift to art, generating exciting and new, still unheard of techniques and ideas.


i completely agree with everything stated in your post, but i want to pose a question:

in this world where we see an ever far more computing power, an ever broadening possibilities of doing art with computer, an ever increase in technologies able to produce art (cintiq vs hole-puncher cards as Stahlberg put it), does a traditional artist will leave a “harder mark” in the world than the CG industry?

i agree that the names remembered will be from the creative minds using these new tools to create unique and completely new art, but a hundred years from now, in 2105, will historians look back at this year, for example, and pay more attention to traditional artists that sold their works to a handfull of rich people or the creative minds inside de CG industry that, sometimes, reached huge masses?



Historians are already looking at the world of CG as part of the film industry. Animation and special effects have always been part of the film industry. Video games, on the other hand, might have a chance of breaking out into a medium that claims its own spot in history. The interactive nature is what sets video games apart from special effects and animation.

I think even in the best case scenerio, CG still image artists will only rise to about the same prestige as illustrators. But to even get to that level, CG still images will have to have their own roster of talents comparable to illustration giants like Norman Rockwell, JC Leyendecker, Howard Pyle…etc. That hasn’t happened yet–not by a long shot.


how about, the more prints I make, the more will survive into the future. Including future technologies for better digital storage with no data loss in the long run, you’re all in for quite the surprise. I think the monograph is a thing of the past. It will never completely disappear completely but I think that you will be more easily noticed and respeted for actual ability through the digital media. Making money from a digital painting which can easily be reproduced is an entirely different story.

I mean, we all know the movies, but what artists do we really know :curious:?


does it needs to happen now? does an artwork needs to be sold and known when it was created to have some artistic value? or “historic artistic value”?

again the most classic example of this, Van Gogh paintings were sold only after he died. one of the things that set Van Gogh´s painting apart was the emotion each brush stroke breathed. during a period where there was still many academic painters fighting against photographers for the position of better represeting the world, something Van Gogh was not worried about, this expressive brushes went unnoticed. only after paiting turned to itself and to the act of painting that those emotional brushes stand out in the general public eye. it was an era of revolution (that, in my humble opinion, with traditional painting, ended in Pollock and abstract expressionism). and, eventually, Van Gogh artwork was more important and relevant than his contemporaries.

and we are, still, in an era of revolution, in an era of new paradigms. the work from many many people here at CGTalk excel in quality, be it creative or technically or both, sometimes a piece can make you breathless as a traditional painting. the fact that such work is in a CG forum and not hanging in a museum gallery or in the dinning room of one of the Rockefeller´s does not make it less or better art. it´s still art. probably many people will stand out eventually, but that only time will tell. it´s hard to see the future when so many things are changing so fast.