Artist Talk in Saskatoon on March 3

On March 3, 2007 I will be giving a short, informal talk about my digital art practice. The talk is part of an ongoing series of artist talks at Paved Arts in Saskatoon, which are intended to address practices based on—or relying heavily on—digital technology and/or electronic media. I plan to talk about my art-making process and how I came to use the computer as an expressive tool. I will talk about the specific software I use—the vector-based imaging program Adobe Illustrator—and how it relates to a more general practice that includes painting, assemblage, and sculpture.

I also plan to talk about how my digital practice has affected my work away from the computer, and the feedback loops created by working with a number of seemingly different tools. This talk is not intended to be a tutorial about Adobe Illustrator or any other software, though there will be occasional descriptions of specific tools and techniques. I plan to avoid technical jargon unless a majority of the audience wants it.

The talk will be 20-30 minutes long, followed by questions and/or discussion. If there is time and interest, I will talk about some of the challenges and advantages I have faced in my digital practice.

Here are the full details of the talk:

Art and Vectors: Adobe Illustrator in a fine art practice
An artist talk by Ed Pas
Saturday, March 3, 2007 from 1:00-2:00pm
Paved Arts
424 20th Street West, Saskatoon
(306) 652-5543

My background with Adobe Illustrator includes my use of the software as a graphic design tool since 1988, and as a fine-art medium since 1996. As of the date of this post, all of the digital images featured in my portfolio were created in Illustrator. That is, in order of newest to oldest, Encounters, Ghost Trees, Lunar Threads, Conversations, and Pyramid Suite.

For those of you with better things to do than keep track of my recent movements, here’s a really brief overview: I lived in Japan from 2003-2005, followed by a brief return to Canada. I promptly moved to England for a year, and came back to Saskatoon in October 2006. Prior to these intercontinental moves my creative practice shifted between digital work and traditional media such as painting and sculpture. My physical work has been exhibited at various venues in Saskatchewan, including the Saskatchewan Craft Council Gallery. Because of the logistic challenges created by my semi-nomadic lifestyle, I have worked almost exclusively in digital media since 2003. My primary interest in technology is as an enabler of creative expression, rather than an end in and of itself.

The following image, which I used on the poster and flyer promoting my talk, is a digital composite of three possible views of Encounters: 43. The left side is the basic outline of some of the main shapes. The middle is a simplified view of some of the fully worked-up foreground elements. The right side is a fully rendered view of the finished piece.

poster image (digital composite of Encounters: 43

I’m really excited about this talk, and not just because I’m really excited about my recent work. In my experience vector-based imaging is a rarity in fine art practices. Until recently I’ve felt that there was little interest in digital art practices that were anything other than photo- or video-based. After all, Paved Arts—an artist-run centre focusing on media-based practices—was formed by the merger of Video Vérité and The Photographers Gallery a few years ago.

Whether or not this was the reality, my perception was that artists with practices like mine tended to exist in a no-man’s land outside mandates of either organization. On the one hand photography was concerned primarily with camera-mediated still images. My drawing-based stills didn’t quite fit in, and until recently digital methods were suspect. On the other hand, while video art facilities were open to all manner of imaging processes, the aesthetic concerns seemed to focus on time-based pieces. And regardless of the kinds of experimentation that were encouraged, source material was almost always generated via the camera. With the move to computer-based editing systems, my technological methods might have fit in at the time. But the fact that I was creating still images—pictures to be hung on walls—and using drawing rather than a camera for input didn’t seem to fit.

What I’ve discovered as I’ve told people about this upcoming talk is that my perceptions were wrong. In fact people seem intrigued by my work and somewhat mystified about how vector imaging works. It seems that the main reason people avoid vector imaging—and Illustrator in particular—is because for beginners it has a much less intuitive interface than other readily-accessible tools like Photoshop.

In any case, I’m happy to have discovered that my practice now falls within the mandate of Paved Arts. Please attend if you can.