Thursday, November 27, 2008

Your Observations of Digital Natives

We all know the generalizations about Digital Natives: they read more lines of text messages than they do lines from books, they spend more time on Facebook than with their face in a book, they need a constant stream of music to be productive, etc. But, what are your actual observations? I would love to hear from those of you who have a lot of time to observe digital natives.

These are my observations: Digital Natives are not really that impressed with digital art like we were when Photoshop hit the streets. It's fun to make, but they are more in awe with art a mano. After all, they have always had a world of Photoshop art, it's almost 20 years old now. Art by hand seems more of a challenge to them, and highly individual, to many of them, frightenly foreign. Following the lead of the professional graphics world, I create projects for my computer graphics II students that incorporate their drawings. The design world now demands the surprise and individuality of handwork. We can't cheat our students of that experience. My computer graphics students who have taken one or more 2D class have no problem with incorporating one of the scanned drawings into a final digital design, but those that haven't freeze up.

Videos as non-art class projects are so common now that some of my students had 3 videos due in one week for 3 different subjects.

Have you noticed all the handlettering in posters and ads and even commercials that target those under 30? Take a look at these awsome hand-lettered restaurant chalk-boards. Art schools still require some handwork in typography classes.

Most digital natives who are musicians don't make music alone on a synthesizer or with Garage Band. They crave a band and an instrument. Of course, they will always promote their music with posters, videos, myspace, pure volume, etc. And, they will lay down tracks with their recording software. Technology is a convenience that won't disappear.

How do digital native poets get attention now? Sure, thanks to technology they can self-publish with affordable on-demand book publishers, and they can put their work online. But poetry slams are like the pre-technology beatnik poet coffee house readings. In my town, I'm trying to find a space for a young poet to write his poetry on the wall of a gallery with illustrations by his buddy accompanying it. Writing on the wall. Why hasn't graffiti art fizzled out with computers? Just search "wall art" and "murals" on vimeo or youtube.

Art a mano. It must be something primitive that we won't ever let go of, that is, until our opposable tumbs disappear. Of course, we wouldn't be able to see it all without the internet...

My son who is majoring in graphic design (communication arts, actually) just had his 21st birthday. Guess what he asked for. Art supplies, canvases, brushes, paint. Yea, we gave him a wacom tablet, which he didn't ask for, but guess what he is most excited about. He's got a head full of painting ideas and is begging me to let him make art on some of our home's white walls.

He's a fan of the artist blu . That's the subject of another blog.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Course Content Materials for Everyone

MIT OpenCourseWare is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to put all of the educational materials from its undergrad and grad-level courses online, free and available to anyone, anywhere.

Check out this list of 100+ Courseware Links for Artists from

Monday, November 17, 2008

We Love Posters

In Graphic Design classes, poster projects are the fudge brownie sundaes of projects. The history of poster design shows that in the effort to be eye-catching creativity is given free range. Lettering can be hand-drawn, composition could include mismatched cutouts. Doodles and tape and the bizarre are welcome.

But we all have students who freeze when given such a chance to show their creativity. I have recently purchased 2 fantastic poster books that I prefer to keep by my bed so I can look at them every night, but my intention is to take them to school for my students.

Modern Dog: 20 Years of Poster Art (Not Canine-Related) is a collection from the Seattle group of cutting-edge poster radicals/comedians. Check out their website.

Masters of Poster Design includes their peers, 256 pages of eye-candy and a book jacket great enough to frame.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Remember those CG 3D modeled fantasy landscapes that blew us all away about... a decade or more ago? The Bryce software used to create them is now FREE. Yes, legally FREE. It is not the latest version, but if you have been wanting to introduce your CG students to 3D animation software, this is a good gateway. You create a "wire mesh" frame, put a skin on it, control the lighting and see it in multiple directions, and even give it simple movement. It is easy to make your own landscape and 3D objects, after you spend time figuring out how it works.

The only drawback is the slow rendering time, so you need to plan how to render overnight, maybe encouraging the students to download the free version at home as well and using a flash drive, take their work home to render.

You need to go to the DAZ 3d website first, go to support, create an account and request your free serial number. Then you can download it for free at

Check out the demo reel .

The. Lens: A Network for Student Photogrpahers

Check out David Gran's latest great idea, a ning for student photographers:

The photos are excellent and an inspiration to any photography student. They can create a profile, upload their photos, create a slideshow of their photos, leave comments and start discussions and read the blog. Nothing new for them, right? The pool of participants are international. If you are my age, the closest we got to such excitement were those handwritten letters we got back from our foreign pen pal a few times a year.

One especially interesting blog entry by Paddy N is about Graffiti Research Lab

Thanks again David.