CTRL+Z

“DESCRIBE A PLACE OR ENVIRONMENT WHERE YOU ARE PERFECTLY CONTENT. WHAT DO YOU DO OR EXPERIENCE THERE, AND WHY IS IT MEANINGFUL TO YOU?”

I am at peace on my computer, Photoshop application open, eyes fixated on a 5000 by 7000 pixel window. This window becomes a very special type of canvas. It can be expanded and cropped without any effect on its contents, which are comprised of a myriad of geometric structures, vector graphics, typefaces, and so on. When imported onto this canvas, each article becomes one of many separately intangible layers that can be unceasingly repositioned, skewed, and rotated to digital precision and perspectival accuracy, all the while leaving no evidence of their alteration. East of my Workspace, stored in a Swatch Palette, are colors I have created. My personal favorite – # 1200ff – exists in neither Gouache, Posca, or Tempera. I make art for one reason: to produce anything, knowing that no one else would have done it the same way, to complete it, and to call it yours, is quite gratifying.

By some meticulous quirk of nature, I’ve always hated making traditional art. Painting, drawing, sketching, all of it. I couldn’t endure how, if I botched up one line, stroke, or paint splatter, the entire image became an aesthetic wreck. Having finished a drawing or painting, I’d return compulsively to it, staring it down until I managed to pick out something wrong. Neurotically, I’d obsesses over the error, trying to convince myself of what my roommates told me every time – no one else would see it! I’d look at it again, this time from 12 inches away, then 12 feet away. Nevertheless, every time I looked at it, all I could see and think of were two lines drawn too close together, an unevenness in the paint’s color and texture, or some inerasable marking at the border of the paper. Naturally, I’d get out my materials and start the thing all over again. Palms sweating, having finally finished round two, I’d point out another mistake. I usually got it right after going through an entire pad of cartridge paper. That’s 30 copies of the same image, 29 of them suffering from some error or another. Only then, however, did I feel…content. And so this self-inflicted cycle of stress continued with any form of traditional art I attempted to produce. For years I snubbed my way of working, afraid I’d never enjoy art as a result of my precisionist expectations – ones I was incapable of meeting.

Eventually, it was my introduction to digital mediums of creation that brought an end to my extreme apprehension about art. With a cursor and keyboard, I have full control over every aspect of the artwork, as opposed to being suppressed by the fear of making an irreversible mistake. No mistake is ever permanent; I am mainly assured by two keys during the process: CTRL+Z takes me back to where I was 3 seconds ago, undoing any one mistake that – in traditional art – would have instantly thwarted any motivation I had to carry on. I can do one thing that can’t be done with any traditional art form in the world: I can undo my errors as I go along, fixing them up into the precise and symmetrical images I want them to be. I can immediately retract a mistakenly placed element – no markings are left behind. I can nudge layers to exact positions determined by units as minute as one pixel. Most importantly, I don’t feel obliged to commit to the repetitive chore of reconstructing entire pieces from scratch just because something is off-center by 2 coordinates, or because two vector images don’t line up at the same point on the X axis. Thus the very nature of making digital art lends itself nicely to the way I work; my fears obliterated by technology, the process becomes more experimental than obsessive. My art becomes far more precise, and far more rewarding.

Leave a Comment