Friday 23rd May 2014Mac or PC for Your Digital Art?
One of the bitterest rivalries that has consumed generations of digital artists is the divide between the Mac and the PC. Okay, that might be a touch hyperbolic, as they haven't existed in their present incarnations for more than a generation, but there are still bitter feuds and harsh words exchanged between the two opposing camps. When the time comes to buy yourself a new computer, it's an important decision to make. Switching between the two can be something of a hassle, but it's not impossible, although as long as Adobe and other software makers are unwilling to allow their customers to switch platforms without purchasing additional copies of programs, that can be a major added expense when it comes to switching environments.
That being said, Macs have a long tradition of being used by the more creative types of personalities (although how much of that tendency is really justified and how much of it comes from Apple's exceptional marketing capabilities is really up for debate). In the hazy days of yore when even the most basic computer cost thousands of dollars, there was a real advantage for artists to use Macs. They paid closer attention to design, displayed colours more accurately than PCs of the day, and worked easily with Postscript printers.
Those days are past - long past, in fact. At this particular moment, 95% of the internal components of Macs are exactly the same as they are in PCs, and PCs tend to be capable of running anything that a Mac can with equal facility. Adobe has improved the PC versions of their products (Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, among many others) to be completely on par with the Mac versions, and PC monitors now offer exactly the same colour fidelity that Mac screens do.
The next major concern, of course, is price. We artists tend not to be rolling in cash, although we are also very conscious of image (even though we often pretend not to be). This tends to make us lean towards Macs anyways, simply because they have a cachet that PCs don't, but when you're on a budget, 9 times out of 10 you can get a PC that will run circles around a Mac at a similar price - not to mention that the cheapest Macs available tend to approach the $1000 price point, while a perfectly serviceable PC can be had for half that price.
Naturally, there are some caveats, but at this point, the long-fought battle between the two can be said to be little more than marketing hype. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you're most comfortable with, as 99% of your digital artwork will be completed equally well on either platform. If you're into high-end video editing, you may be better off with a Mac, whereas if your emphasis is on 3D rendering, you may be better off with a PC. It all comes down to what you need, not which is better.
Posted on May 23rd 2014 on 07:13pm
Friday 25th April 2014Never Before Seen Digital Works by Warhol Recovered
Perhaps the most dreaded scourge of the digital artist is data loss. Unless you manage to regularly maintain a strict backup schedule to keep copies of all your digital work files in separate places (and let's be honest - that's right up there with flossing every day and jogging 4 times a week) you have probably encountered the problem before. But what happens when you diligently back up your work, only to have the storage medium you used go out of style? Imagine being a filmmaker who has copies of all their work on BetaMax tapes. Well, the same thing apparently happened to works by pioneering pop art icon Andy Warhol.
Originally commissioned in 1985 by then-thriving computer company Commodore to create a series of works using their computer graphics software, Warhol produced a number of images using a now-hilariously antiquated program named GraphiCraft, which was never the less the pinnacle of computer graphics technology at the time. Out of the whole series he created, only one piece was ever used in a real-world setting, a picture of artist Debbie Harry. All the rest of the images were saved to floppy disks, and left to gather dust and be forgotten in some back corner of Warhol's studio.
After the artist's death, however, the disks were part of a collection that was donated to The Warhol, a museum in Pittsburgh dedicated to all things Andy Warhol, part of the Carnegie Museums collection. However, by this time, Commodore was going bankrupt, and the museum had little technical knowledge that would have allowed them to access the content of the disks - and, not knowing was contained on them, they had little incentive to find out.
Fast forward to 2014, when Cory Arcangel saw a Youtube video of Warhol promoting the Amiga 1000, which inspired him to reach out to the museum to find out what happened to his experiments with the first computer graphics systems. The result was a collaboration between The Warhol's chief archivist, Matt Wrbican, and a group of computer enthusiasts from Carnegie Mellon University, the CMU Computer Club. Thanks to the expertise of the CMU Computer Club, the images were able to be recovered after painstaking tests and careful problem solving. For those of you who've read our recent post on drawing tablets, you'll be easily able to see how even the most capable artists would have struggled to adapt to the mouse interface that was standard issue on most computer systems at the time!
Posted on April 25th 2014 on 10:55pm