Wednesday 02nd March 2016Robot Artists
Another week goes by, and another story trumpeting robotic artwork comes to supposedly dazzle us. Recently we discussed the Instapainting robot that drew based on a collaborative Twitch stream, and techies across the net were fascinated by the interplay. It was fairly interesting, of course, but as a collaborative art project rather than as a dire warning that robots are soon going to be replacing human artists.
This week, we bring to your attention a robot created by Google's Creative Lab that is able to create a pencil line drawing of a photographic portrait taken by a phone camera. It's an interestingly quirky piece of tech, but hardly something that can really be called an artist, despite what the gadget-hungry internet would like you to believe.
The robot is really just a Nexus 6P smartphone attached to a device known as a IOIO (yo yo) that enables it to move a pencil up and down the canvas by contracting and releasing two cables. But all of the interpretive work, in other words all the elements that actually make up a portrait, are handled by the application that converts your photo into an on-screen line drawing. While it might have a chance at replacing a boardwalk caricature artist on sheer novelty alone, it hardly seems likely that it will ever create something that will hang on a gallery wall.
But that's not to say that it's the last word on the potential of robot artists.
As artificial intelligence becomes one of the hottest areas of scientific research thanks to some actual, tangible leaps forwards in the field (think IBM's Watson winning at Jeopardy or Google's Deepmind AlphaGo beating the world's best Go player in 4 out of 5 matches), we may actually begin to see some true attempts to create an artificial artist. Many people around the world are concerned about robots replacing them in their field - McDonalds fast food workers, for example - but is this really going to ever be a concern for the art world?
Perhaps the better question is what will happen to the creative arts in a world where menial labour is all handled by machine intelligences, leaving us with a glorious excess of free time to work on whatever may catch our fancy.
Posted on March 02nd 2016 on 04:37am
Wednesday 17th February 2016Robot Artists of the World Unite
It seems like robots are everywhere lately, whether it's replacing cashiers at a McDonalds, on the assembly line at the local plant, or being harassed by Boston Dynamics workers. While it's surely only a matter of time before our robot slaves rebel and crush us into so much biomass, surely the jobs provided by the artistic community would be safe - at least for the time being, right? Well, maybe not.
While robotic painting is hardly a new phenomenon, as experiments were conducted with the mashup as far back as the the 1950s, new technology always creates new opportunities and new ground to cover. Chris Chen has a dream, and while that dream is a slightly blurry and more than a bit messy one, it still involves robots painting portraits of the customers patronizing his company Instapainting.
Above and beyond the stated goals of Instapainting, Chen has opened up access to one of the painting robots to the internet (always a risky move) and streamed the whole thing using the Twitch platform. Users could control the motion of the painting robot, which lead to its own unique set of problems.
"The bots came back and tried to paint 'dickbutts' but the point and click interface made it easy for anyone to interfere. That's probably why this looks more like a Jackson Pollock. I was surprised it mostly ran without issues," he said. "It was a $250 machine slapped together with quickly written software, so running it for that long was an endurance test."
So is it all overblown hype? Surely a robot can't really be an artist, without the hopes, drives, dreams, emotions, and all the other je ne sais quoi that helps fuel the human creative spirit …. right? But what about a robot that is indirectly controlled by a mass of humans?
Perhaps the issue lies in the fact that all the headlines about the story are written as clickbait, hoping to ensnare users for their valuable ad space consumption and clickthrough rates, but if you stop and consider it as a collaborative art project, it starts to become a bit more appealing. We shouldn't go so far as to call it a robot artist, but rather an interesting experiment into collaborative experience that creates a necessary interstitial zone between the body of collaborators and the body of the work.
Posted on February 17th 2016 on 02:38pm
Friday 28th August 2015Here's the Artist Statement
It's probably fair to say that most artists hate to write. There are the exceptions, of course, those lucky few who have talents that bridge the multiple medium divide, but they are far from the rule. It's unfortunate that so much of the value of a piece of work is generated by the story behind it, when artists tend to be loathe to commit it to paper - or at least, to commit it to paper in a manner that is in any way sensible or understandable to the general collector. There is a certain joy in writing art-speek, the tangled mesh of intricate phraseology and vague aesthetic theories that tend to comprise most artist statements, but not everyone is equally adept at it. So why bother?
A new website has come to our attention, one with a cheeky purpose on the surface and a possibly inspiring purpose hidden beneath. Called the 'artybollocks generator', it does more or less what it says on the tin: it will use algorithms and a database of art-speek and aesthetic theory terms to generate an artist statement for you. The particular gem we received on our first visit runs as follows:
My work explores the relationship between acquired synesthesia and recycling culture.
With influences as diverse as Wittgenstein and Andy Warhol, new tensions are crafted from both explicit and implicit discourse.
Ever since I was a postgraduate I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of the universe. What starts out as yearning soon becomes corroded into a dialectic of lust, leaving only a sense of unreality and the inevitability of a new understanding.
As intermittent forms become clarified through emergent and repetitive practice, the viewer is left with a tribute to the inaccuracies of our future.
By the time you reach the end, your eyes may be starting to go slightly crossed as you try to unravel the sense out of what is, in fact, complete gibberish invented by a machine. But to the unenlightened, it sure sounds good. In fact, it sounds so good that it leads us to the hidden purpose behind this post: next time you're stuck on where to go next, try visiting the artybollocks generator. Click through a few times to generate a nonsensical artist statement that appeals to you, and get to work creating the pieces described by the algorithm. Through the most random of inspirations, you may find yourself creating something that's actually quite wonderful - and hey, at least the artist statement is already finished for you!
Check it out at http://www.artybollocks.com/ and have some fun next time you're stuck for ideas!
Posted on August 28th 2015 on 04:30pm
Saturday 29th November 2014Holiday Gifts for Artists
It's that time again - and this year, with our suggestions, every artist in your life will be sure to appreciate their gifts. Whether they're for a loved one or a special treat for yourself, this is a fantastic time to get great deals on art supplies, no matter if you're restocking your supplies or branching out into some new experiments you might otherwise not bother with.
Winter can be a creatively bleak time, and even though the bad weather tends to lend itself to extra studio time, the holidays tend to be full of bustle and family and friends - all lovely, of course, but not always the best way to produce new work. Take it as an opportunity to explore new media, or try out new projects that require supplies you might not buy. Give yourself a budget, and drop by your local art supply store or browse the net for some new and interesting ideas, and give them a shot!
Tech toys are one of the best items to pick up around the holidays though, as the combination of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all sorts of holiday deals mean there is a huge section of time when tech products are on sale. While they might not seem like the first choice for artists, you can be sure that you'll get some great deals they'll love.
One of our favourite deals for the burgeoning digital artist is a tablet. Not a drawing tablet, although those are awesome too, but actually a tablet computer. Thanks to the various deals, its possible to pick up a cheap tablet for under $50, making it affordable to even the most starving artist. Add in a free sketching application, and suddenly they have a digital sketchbook that never runs out of pages - and comes with an 'undo' button!
Digital picture frames are also a great gift idea for artists, who often have difficulty choosing between the various works they love to display around their homes. With a digital picture frame, you no longer have to choose. For an even better gift idea that's a sneaky promotional idea to boot, buy cheap digital frames, preload them with your own artwork, and give them to friends and family in the hopes of generating some sales for your larger works!
And of course, if none of those ideas suit, it's always a good idea to help the artists in your life with a Gallereo subscription! ;-)
Posted on November 29th 2014 on 05:07pm
Friday 12th September 2014Animal Artists
No, we're not talking about artists who portray animals in their works, but actual animals who have become artists. For those of you who scoff at the idea, take note: the most expensive piece of work ever sold by (on behalf of, perhaps) an animal artist was a piece done in the 1960s by a chimpanzee named Congo - which sold for over $26,000 dollars. Certainly nothing to scoff at!
This, of course, is something of an outlier - on a list of the top 8 sale values from animal artists published by Macleans magazine, Congo ranks first, but the 8th highest value was only $370. Still, fairly impressive considering their lack of speech must surely inhibit the public perception of their work, and more than many artists sell their works for!
The list includes the following artists: Congo the chimpanzee, Ruby the elephant, the orangutans of Krefeld Zoo (presumably an artist collective), Metro the horse, Mini the cat, Arbor the dog, Big Cats of Tampa, and the adorably named Pockets Warhol the monkey. Even among those who are willing to consider the possiblity that animals have the level of self-awareness and cognition to actually be considered artists, the sheer variety of species that have claimed the title artist is rather astonishing. It may even be enough of a surprise to reconsider the role that animals appear to play in our worldview. The phrase 'mindless animals' suddenly seems rather naive and ignorant, when you consider the possibilities of animals gifted with the power of abstract thought and the ability to express such thoughts.
Naturally, not every animal from each of the species listed above is likely to manifest such talents, but that's not really very differenty from humanity. Some individuals excel at certain areas, and some excel in others - you wouldn't expect a polyglot to also be a fantastic artist, nor would you expect a K9 unit shepherd to be a canine Cezanne.
If you're stuck on inspiration and you have a pet, why not experiment with giving them the paintbrush and canvas? Naturally, only certain types of media are suited to animal dexterity, but with a little bit of a creative thought, you might unlock a wholly unexpected dimension to your favourite furry friend - not to mention discover a whole new way to express yourself in a new type of medium.
Posted on September 12th 2014 on 11:50pm
Wednesday 27th August 2014Email Marketing for Artists
Like oil and water, artists and email rarely mix. It's a serious problem, because email marketing is one of the best ways to make sure that your adoring public knows what's happening in your artistic life, and what they can look forwards to in the future. Many artists think they don't know have the know-how to use email as an effective outreach tool, or that nobody would want to read their emails. This may have been true 10 years ago, but in 2014, it couldn't be farther from the truth. You've already realized that you need a website to keep yourself going - adding an email signup system isn't very difficult once you've mastered your own website.
The easiest way to integrate a mailing list in your artist marketing toolkit is to use a service like Mailchimp. It's free to start, and you only have to pay once you reach a certain number of subscribers - something around 2000 - by which time, you'll no doubt appreciate the value of what email can do for your artistic career. They make it extremely easy to integrate into your website, and soon you'll be starting to build a list of people who are dedicated and interested in you.
If you just sit back and hope for people to sign up, however, you're probably going to be a bit disappointed unless you're already fairly well known. Yes, you're going to have to sell yourself a bit to make this work! But that's often what separates the well-known artist from the artists nobody has heard of - it's not their talent or their skills, it's their ability and willingness to market themselves. You could be the best artist in the world, but if nobody knows your work, well... nobody will ever know your work.
I can hear you know, 'but what would I say?' and it's a good question. But if you stop and think, you'll be able to come up with a few different ideas that you can regularly use. First of all, you're probably maintaining a blog - and if you're not, you should be - so you can mention your latest blog post when you mail out to your adoring fans. You can also mention upcoming gallery shows, pieces you're working on, thoughts on art, experiments you're doing, and what's next for your artistic career. Just make sure you don't over-contact people! That's one of the fastest ways to make them unsubscribe. Try to contact them at least once a month, to make sure you stay on their artistic radar, but don't contact them too much more than that unless you have some really exciting and important news. Good luck and happy emailing!
Posted on August 27th 2014 on 01:07pm
Wednesday 16th April 2014Foregoing Photoshop: The Work of JeeYoung Lee
Perhaps the strangest result of the era of digital imagery is the effect it has had on the photograph. When photography was originally developed, it was easily the most precise of the possible methods to reproduce a particular object or scene with near-scientific accuracy. There were still ways to manipulate perception of the image, and even some fairly sophisticated optical illusions, but for the most part, photographs were regarded as reliable documentation, free of the artist license inherently given to painters and other artists. All this would change.
Enter the world of the digital photograph. With even the most basic training in Photoshop or similar image editing programs, the average person is capable of creating a photographic composite that is a complete fabrication, all while looking real. This creates an interesting blurring of the lines between photography and painting, since painting with pixels that look photo-realistic is still painting. As a result, some artists have expressed a deep frustration with the ease of creation of fantastical landscapes and scenes.
One such artist is JeeYoung Lee, who works out of a small studio in Seoul, South Korea. The studio really is small, measuring just 3 x 6 meters, but the scenes she constructs within it are anything but. Instead of using Photoshop and other digital methods to create her fantastical works, she takes the time to actually construct the scenes in her studio by hand. Some of the results are more successful than others, but the ones that do succeed are truly incredible, and are made even more so by her talented handicraft.
In a world of ersatz people where everyone and everything is airbrushed to within an inch of its life, it's refreshing to see a talented artist deliberately defying the conventions of a digitally fabricated reality in favour of actual construction. As both artist, photographer, set designer and model, Lee has a degree of intimacy in her photography that isn't always apparent in the works of others, and the fact that many of her scenes are depictions of her life, whether memories of childhood or dreams of fear, only serves to reinforce the personally cathartic nature of her work. Regardless of your opinion of her current pieces, she's definitely an emerging talent that should be watched closely as she develops, sans Photoshop.
To see a gallery of some of Lee's most popular works, check out the selection here
Image shown above is 'Treasure Hunt', by JeeYoung Lee.
Posted on April 16th 2014 on 06:28pm
Tuesday 26th November 2013Don't Fall Prey to These Old Refrains
Every artist, without exception, has chosen to go into art because it's what they love to do. Nobody wakes up one day and says to themselves, 'Well, time to quit my job and become an artist to make some real cash!' We've all arrived where we are because its what we really want to be doing. That being said, we all have times when we find ourselves in the creative doldrums, not producing anything and not quite sure how we got so stuck. If that's where you find yourself, take a good honest look at what's holding you back, and see if you're unconsciously using any of these common artist's excuses for not doing what you love.
"I'm just not inspired!" is probably the most common one, and we've definitely all felt this way at one time or another. We recently posted an article about some ideas on how to deal with creative burnout, so be sure to check that out. Beyond that, though, there are some decent structures you can use to start generating ideas. Immerse yourself in the art world, find something you're passionate about, and try your hand at it. Use random input from the world. Most importantly, stop telling yourself you have no inspiration and just start doing SOMETHING. Anything. Once you unblock the logjam, your natural creativity will reassert itself.
"I can't find enough time to work on my projects!" is another equally common excuse for not creating, and it has an extremely simple answer: make time. Work, family, and life in general get in the way, but in the end we always make time for the things that we really want to do. Prioritise your artistic time more highly, whether it's on solid afternoon in the studio every week or even only half an hour every day. If it's truly important to you, you'll make it happen.
"Nobody likes my work!' is an excuse that can often lead to others. As artists, most of us are naturally sensitive, and even those of us who aren't easily offended can still be cast down by negative feedback (or even a lack of constant positive feedback). There are a couple of ways to handle this: change your work (not recommended), use it as motivation to excel (better), or join a group dedicated towards constructive critiques (best). A critique group will help you deal with almost all of these excuses, and keep you on track and producing the work you love.
Posted on November 26th 2013 on 05:37pm
Friday 22nd November 2013How to Stand Out from the Pack
One of the things that staggers most artists who are getting their start in online art sales is the sheer overwhelming number of other artists who are already out there creating. We all react in different ways - some shrink away from the idea, some don't care, and some view it as a challenge. No matter how you handle it, however, there are some great ways to make yourself stand out from the pack that modern digital art sales has become.
We've covered a lot of tips about how to actually get eyes on your work already - so be sure to check out those posts if you haven't already. We cover some great tips on SEO for artists, specifically related to your Gallereo page, how to leverage social networking and your Gallereo blog to create a fanbase, and other essentials for the digital age. But standing out in a crowd is more than just getting people to look at your work - it truly comes from two main elements, and they both start with embracing art completely and utterly into your life. So if you haven't done that, go for it - we'll wait.
Probably the most important thing that will help you stand out (and further develop your own artistic sensibilities at the same time) is living, breathing and eating art every day. If 'artist' isn't your day job, it can be a bit more difficult, but it's absolutely essential that you immerse yourself in the art world. Getting a sense of what else is out there, what's contemporary, what's reactionary, and what's innovative - no matter what your style or medium or sensibility is - will help you figure out where you want to go and how you can differentiate yourself from everyone else.
Equally important is to not be intimidated by the flood of work that some artists post online. Instead of posting every single piece that you do, ensure that you're showing only your very best work that represents who you are as an artist. Figure out what it is that makes you different, or even what it is you want to make you different, and highlight that aspect of your work. You'll find that your own uniquely individual style will start to emerge, the more you start to embrace both the art world as a whole and your own personal desires.
Posted on November 22nd 2013 on 07:43pm