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Digital/Computer Paintings as a Modern- day Igbo Artists’
vehicle for creating unique Artworks
(Analyzing the Digital Paintings of Ikenna Aghanya Ph.D, Johnson
Okechukwu and Chidi Onwuekwe)
By
Dr. Ikenna O. Aghanya
Chief Lecturer
Dept. of Fine & Applied Arts
Federal Polytechnic, Oko
Nigeria
Email: iyke70@gmail.com
2
ABSTRACT:
Revolutions come in many varieties. Some tear down established notions destructively,
while others consist of forging new paradigms through constructive means such as an
ideological or technological innovation that fundamentally alters an individual or group’s
creative path. But all have their place in history. This paper charts a course of change in
art and art styles, as been practiced by some modern-day Igbo artists. It follows the
meandering path that has been influenced by technological advances that have in turn
influenced art culture and practices in technique. In particular, this paper examines how
the modern-day processes of digital art have attempted to broaden the modern-day Igbo
artist’s knowledge base, and has influenced new ways of doing old things. Together these
ideas have impacted modern-day art by creating a fertile landscape allowing an artist’s
inquisitive tendency to take root and uniquely flourish. The aim of this paper is to analyze
the various digital paintings produced by three modern-day Igbo artists (Ikenna Aghanya,
Okechukwu Johnson and Chidi Onwuekwe) and in turn examine how the use of the
computer, as an art tool has affected their creative process. The paper will also look at the
functions of this medium as it pertains to each of the decorative paintings done by these
artists.
KEYWORDS: Digital Art, Igbo Artists, Art Styles, Nigeria, Technological Innovation.
3
INTRODUCTION:
Fine Art spans the history of mankind from the caves of Lascaux to the dazzling neons of
Ginza. In both this extensive history and in the rather recent explosion of visual
communication in the 20th and 21st centuries, there is occasionally a blurring difference
and overlaying of advertising art, graphic design and fine art. After all, they all share
many of the same elements, theories, principles, practices and languages, and sometimes
the same patron or client1
. In advertising art, the definitive objective is the sale of goods
and services. In graphic design, “the quintessence is to give order to information, form to
ideas, appearance and feeling to artifacts that document human experience.”
By the early 19th Century, artists were trained in specific areas of art, such as, Fine Art,
Architecture and Photography. The concept of improving the arts came about when a
group of artists wanted to commercialize their artwork. In the late 19th Century, a
movement known as, “Art Nouveau” was established to define a new area of the arts.
The rapid evolutions of this movement can be best understood by an exhibition that was
held in the 1900’s to categorize the arts. Art Nouveau was in many ways the direct result
of the Industrial Revolutions of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Towards the end of this
transitional period, major changes were brought about in the arts. Movements such as
Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism and Abstract expression (just to name a few) came about
due to the changing process of the arts2
. In each one of these movements change
occurred. Most notable were: fragmentation, motion, illustration, photomontage and
machine. While some artist embraced these new found possibilities, many did not.
1
Robin Baker, Designing the Future, Thames and Hudson, London, 2008, p.19
2
Morgan Spalter, The Computer in The Visual Art. Longman, Inc., New York 1999, p.118
4
After introduction of personal computers and software programmers in the 1970s
computers were used to generate art. Machines began to replace man, thus affecting
designers and artists alike. This development of machines made it possible to create
digital art thus providing the ideal opportunity for commercial development within the
arts. For example, Marcel Duchamp used different pieces of metals to create a series of
complex imagery in his work. By 1980, computers emerged as the “de facto” standard for
art. There, after artist began to work very closely with their new found palette to create
works of art beyond their own imagination. Computer art soon began to extend from one
part of the world to another.
Modern art exhibitions often include more digital paintings, videos and installations than
traditional painting or drawings. Even artists who use traditional techniques increasingly
use modern technology such as the internet to display their works and communicate with
other artists. Modern technology provided a means for artists to create works faster with
more tools than ever before.
METHODS/EXPERIMENTAL
A lot of experimental techniques were used in the creation of these digital artworks. The
various digital artworks produced by these three Igbo artists are all geared towards the
attempt at addressing 21st
Century challenges and opportunities, especially in a
developing country such as Nigeria. The three artists have always believed in progress
and in creativity’s role in progress. They have also remained critical to most traditionalist
modes of art creation, hence they concentrated on experimenting with various interactive
media such as, computer, photography, video and installation, as their choice of art tools.
5
ORIGINS OF DIGITAL ART:
The origins of digital art began from plain patterns and shapes made by computer
programs into finished works of art which can look as realistic as water color or oil
painting. The evolution of computer-generated art is intrinsically connected with the
accomplishment made by scientists, mathematicians and engineer with the access to
technology and technical skills. In her book Digital Visions, Cynthia Goodman points out
that, “accomplishments with the computer were achieved by scientists, mathematician
and engineers, who had access to powerful mainframe”3
.
Anne Morgan Spalter believes that, “Many artist followed the path laid down by the
earliest computer artist and developed more complex approaches to programming
artwork.”4
Nevertheless, artists have always been looking for new and creative ways to
express their ideas, since many of them were trained in Fine Arts, Stage Design,
Architectures and Photography.
The profound impact of technology over the past 25 years has only begun to be
appreciated. Computer technology has since achieved some of the most stupendous
successes in creating art. For example, the internet provides endless information that
empowers artist to share information with each other. Most of the work created with the
computer is either manipulated, or rendered, which helps artist to create work in record
time. Artists such as Cynthia B. Rubin, Ikenna O. Aghanya and James F. Walker (as well
as others) have contributed tremendously to the computer art world. Some of them have
3
Cynthia Goodman. Digital Visions. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York:, 1987. p.29
4
Morgan. The Computer in The Visual Art. 1999, p.75
6
discovered that the ability to combine photographic images, physical paint, and digital
paint into layers of ideas.
EVOLUTION OF THE DIGITAL ART SYSTEM:
The evolution of digital paint system can be best understood through the widespread
introduction of digital computers, software programmers, graphic tablets, and the stylus
(just to name a few). Alvy Smith noted, “a digital paint system is a set of tools for dealing
with pixels.” In this system, the artist is often able to arrange their painting in layers,
which enable them to edit each layer separately. This intervention not only changed
design procedures, but rather it also made it possible to conceptualized the current
development of digital art.
The main difference between digital paint and traditional paint is that digital paint has the
ability to undo and redo. Digital painters also have more tools at their disposal, such as:
virtual palette with many colors, mouse, tablet, and stylus. In some cases digital painters
prefer to use tablets to create digital painting instead of a mouse or pen and paper.
In the 1970’s the first digital paint system program was designed by Joan Miller at Bell
Labs. She was one of the first designers to have created a rough paint program on a 3- bit
frame. This programmer was then used by Ivan Sutherland and Charles Csuri to develop
the first intricate liner advance program in the early 1970’s. However, Sutherland had
previously developed his Sketchpad (this program allowed users to draw on a computer
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screen) and interactive computer graphic system. The Sketchpad is believed to have led
to the creation of a more advanced form of the graphic tablet.5
Over the years Dick Shoup, Garland Stern, Alvy Smith, and Marc Leroy developed 8-bit
paint programmers’ for E&S Frame Buffer. By 1978 Alvy created the first 24-bit paint
programmer for higher video resolution, while Marc Levoy implemented a program that
preserves soft edges by using a color mapping technique. This invention became the
platform for future development. Hence digital painting system of the 1980’s saw an
introduction of paint programs such as raster graphic, bitmap images and pixels. The
paint system had become so adaptable, that it was used in software programmers for
personal computers. This enables digital painters to assemble and create paintings’ in
higher resolution. These 24 and 34-bit paint programs were developed by Richard Taylor,
Thomas Porter and a few other designers, and was later used on Pixar image computers.
This technological growth has since expanded the range of skills, which digital artists
need to create more advance digital works of art.
Towards the early 1990’s there was a sudden increase for digital paint programmers as
technology became more advanced. Microsoft and many other software companies
became patrons of this lucrative business. And, in1994, Microsoft merged with Altamira
Composer to create Microsoft’s Photo Draw 2000. These were some of the first steps of
advanced painting software.
5
Douglas Davis. A History/Prophecy of The Collaboration between Science Technology and Art.
Praeger Publishers, New York, 1985. p.20
8
COMPTUTER, STYLUS, GRAPHIC TABLETS AND DIGITAL PAINTINGS.
This area of the paper would define some of the terms that the reader would encounter in
the process of reading this paper. It will also assist the reader in clarifying the main
aspects of this paper.
What is a Computer? According to Douglas Davis, a computer is, “an electronic or
electromechanical device that accepts “input” information, processes or modifies it
according to a logical, predetermined sequence and produce “output” information.”6
There are two basic type of computers; analogue and digital. An analogue computer uses
continuous electrical codes while a digital computer stores its information in a digital
format. The first computer was so large it took up the space of an entire room. As
computers evolved they were made small enough to fit on one’s desk and later even on
one’s lap (i.e., laptop).
A Stylus is a computerized instrument used for writing text or drawing lines on the
surface of a computer. The stylus is an electronically sensitive tool that is attached to a
tablet which improves the precision of touch. It is commonly used with hand held
computer games such as the Nintendo DS.7
A Graphic Tablet is a substitute input device used in place of a mouse or in conjunction
with a mouse or other pointing device to allow an artist to work with precise hand
movements and give the effect of drawing with pen and ink. Anne Morgan Spalter points
6
Douglas Davis. A History/Prophecy of The Collaboration between Science Technology and Art.
1985. p.20
7
Douglas Davis. A History/Prophecy of The Collaboration between Science Technology and Art.
1985. p.49
9
out that, “tablet can also be used with a mouse like pointing device called a puck; the
puck resembles a traditional mouse, but its precise location on a surface is shown through
a cross-hair in a transparent view finder. She also went on to say that pucks are useful for
precisely digitizing various types of layout and engineering or architectural drawing.”
Early model tablets were commonly known as acoustic tablets or spark (wooden
alphabetical tablet) while the most modern notable those by Wacom, are electromagnetic
or pressure sensitive.
Digital Painting is an emerging art form in which digital paint replaces traditional
painting technique such as watercolor, oil painting impasto, acrylic etc. This art form is
created on a computer in digital format. Digital Art consist of computer generated
images, algorithmic art scanned photograph, vector graphic etc. The artists also have
access to several tools that are not available to the traditional painter. For example, a
virtual palette consisting of a very wide variety of color, almost any size canvas brushes,
erasers, pencils and most of all the ability to undo and redo your work.
A pixel is a computer word formed from Picture Element, because a pixel is the smallest
element of the digital image. Digital images are dimensioned in pixels. To further
corroborate this concept of pixels is absolutely essential to be able to use digital images,
because pixels are all that exists in digital images. It may help to realize that a picture
constructed of colored mosaic tile chips on a wall or floor is a somewhat similar concept,
being composed of many tiny tile areas, each represented by a sample of one color. From
a reasonable viewing distance, we do not notice the individual small tiles; our brain just
sees the overall picture represented by them. The concept of pixels is similar, except that
these pixels (digitized color sample values) are extremely small, and are aligned in
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perfect rows and columns of tiny squares, to compose the rectangular total image. A pixel
is the remembered color value of each one of these color samples representing tiny square
areas. The size of the image is dimensioned in pixels, X columns wide and Y rows tall.”8
ANALYSIS OF ARTIST WORKS OF ART
Technology has advanced from computers the width of a room that can only perform one
particular task, to personal computers (PC's) that fits on a desk and perform multiple
tasks. Understanding computers and their programs and being capable of applying that
knowledge is very important in today's world. Artists in the future may find it beneficial
to have a strong background in computer technology.
It has been about 50 plus years since the first digital computer was introduced to
designers and without a doubt it continues to advance the process in a massive way.
Digital/Computer Art is now entering a new phase of its development. Artists such as
Ikenna Aghanya, Johnson Okechukwu and Chidi Onwuekwe and so many others have
contributed tremendously in the history and practice of digital art. The works of art that
they have produced over the years have represented a significant departure from
traditional art. These three artists have also developed a host of new digital skills that can
improve and inspire other digital artist.
8
Douglas Davis. A History/Prophecy of The Collaboration between Science Technology and Art.
1985. p.18
11
1.) IKENNA OBUMNEME AGHANYA
BIO
Ikenna was born in Oct. 1972. He had his secondary education at the Federal
Govternment College, Enugu from 1983 - 1989. In 1990 he was admitted to study
Fine Arts at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. He graduated with honours in
1995, with a B.A Degree in Fine & Industrial Arts, specializing in
Graphics/Advertising Designs. He worked as a Graphic Designer for Niconeng
Limited from 1996 - 1999. In 1999 he was awarded a scholarship to study for an
MFA Degree in Computer Graphics at the prestigious College of Fine Arts,
University of the Philippines, Diliman, Metro Manila, the Philippines. In 2001, he
was awarded the M.F.A Degree, specializing in Computer Graphics. He returned to
Nigeria in 2002 and got an appointment at the Federal Poyltechinc Oko as a Digital
Art lecturer. Ikenna is a pioneer in digital arts in Nigeria. He also obtained holds a
PhD candidate in Fine Arts (Studio) at the Imo State University, Owerri, Nigeria in
2019. He has exhibited his artworks and presented papers on Digital Arts in Nigeria,
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Ghana, New Zealand, Brunei, the Philippines, the UK, the USA and Korea. He has
made tremendous contributions in the education of young artist over the years. His
works of art extends his vision into the invisible realm of experience. According to
Ikenna, “my art works evoke the contrast of the digital life and the analog life.”
Ikenna belongs to a number of International and Local Art organizations, most
notably the E-Art Philippines, CFA Alumini group (University of the Philippines),
The Society of Nigerian Artists, just to mention a few. He is also the CEO of
PrintPlus, a Graphic Design firm.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Ikenna is presently working on ways to fuse the use of technology (as an art tool) and
traditional art techniques, into one Art structure or style. This technique can be seen
in most of his recent Art works. In 2001, as part of his MFA thesis work at the
University of the Philippines, Ikenna embarked on using the fusion of digital printed
images on canvas and acrylic paint to create some social commentary
paintings/posters on the problems in his home country, Nigeria.
“Umu Afrika” 2011. Medium: Digital Painting on Photo-paper. Size: 24’’ by 36’’. Artist: Ikenna Aghanya
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“Divine Inspiration” 2011. Medium: Digital Painting on Photo-paper. Size: 24’’ by 36’’. Artist: Ikenna Aghanya
“In the midst of plenty” 2011. Medium: Digital Painting on Photo-paper. Size: 24’’ by 36’’ . Artist: Ikenna Aghanya
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2.) JOHNSON OKECHUKWU
BIO
Johnson Chukwuma Okechukwu (b. January, 1969) is the fourth child of late Mr. Charles
and Mrs. Victoria Okechukwu of Oko in Orumba North Local Government Area of
Anambra state. As a very young boy, even before his adventure into education, he had
always exhibited an innate attitude of always drawing or scribbling forms and objects on
paper and even on the sand. This attitude became very uncontrollably expressed that no
one bothered or disturbed him any longer, and he grew up with it. He started his
educational pursuit at the Ogui Nike Primary School, Enugu; went further by gaining
admission into the prestigious College of the Immaculate Conception (C.I.C.), Enugu
from 1979 – 1984 and came out with his O’ level papers at the end of the period. But it is
absolutely amazing and true about Johnson that all through his secondary school days,
there was virtually a no properly organized tutelage on art. Then at C.I.C., Enugu, the
school authorities exhibited a relatively passive attitude and approach to subjects like Art.
The curriculum in place then was designed to focus hugely on the sciences, the liberal
arts and commercial subjects with neither a substantive art teacher nor any art studio
15
available in the school. All through his stay at the school, every art teacher that was
posted to the school appeared to be on transit as none ever completed one full academic
year. Some years would even come and go without any art teacher at all. However, this
apathy against Art never really bothered him. Art has been a subject he so loved but he
rather ended up not offering Fine Art among his subjects at the School Certificate level.
However, a turning point came up in his life in 1985 when he personally considered his
O’ level papers to be very unsatisfactory to him without any trace of Fine Art. At this
point, he did not stop merely at this consideration but went beyond that to wake up the
innate quality he had always exhibited much earlier by going ahead to sit for an O’ level
examinations including Fine Art. He prepared and sat for this examination practically
under no tutelage but came out with a very excellent result and in that same year he sat
for his JAMB exam and was successful.
He gained admission to the Art department of the University of Benin in 1986. His
sojourn at the Benin Art School primarily marked his ever well organized formal training
in art and secondly, it opened a great window of opportunities for him to have a practical
communication with the rich cultural heritage of the old Benin kingdom and to tap from
it. This alone added yet another colour to his art. Johnson was successfully schooled
through the Art department of the University of Benin and graduated in 1990 with a
specialization in Graphics.
On graduation, after the compulsory one year national service by late 1991, he gained
employment as a Graphic Artist in 1992 with Reads & Mark Limited, (an advertising and
marketing company based in Enugu). His venture into the advertising industry
tremendously contributed to the improvement of his art by giving him the privilege of
16
taking an early peep into the digital world. His eventual adaptation to the digital tools, via
his advent into the world of advertising, opened him up to the vast flow of digitally visual
information techniques which put him on a better pedestal to reflect these techniques in
his art. Johnson’s venture into the advertising industry equally gave him the rare privilege
of relating with other artists from different agencies as they shared common knowledge
and ideas. He had worked with some agencies among which are the Reads & Mark
limited, Enugu, A.O. & A. Associates, Lagos and many more.
Due to his pursuit for research and improvement, Johnson has joined forces with the
Federal Polytechnic, Oko as a lecturer in Graphics. This he has done with a strong
resolve to nurture and groom the young and upcoming Graphic artists with a view to
closing up the very wide gap between the classroom and the industry. He is also the Chief
Operating Officer of Johnson Goldwaters & Associates, a graphic design, advertising,
printing and publishing company he had put together to drive home his knowledge of
digital graphics. This establishment was registered with the Corporate Affairs
Commission due to his advertising background on 9th December, 1996 in Lagos. Since
inception till date it has undertaken some commissioned jobs for many organizations like
First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Royal Cargo Shipping Agencies Limited to mention but a few.
He belongs to so many professional bodies among which are the Society of Nigerian
Artists (SNA), Advertising Practitioners’ Council of Nigeria (APCON) to mention but a
few.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION:
I strongly detest working with images that have been over doctored by this class of
photographers who menace our image bank of pictorial information by eroding the real
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essence of a photographic image. In fact, naturalism gives me absolute drive as nature
itself is an embodiment of beauty. I’m very passionate about colours particularly when
these are beautifully interpreted on a piece of graphic work with a strong sense of balance
and proportion. Colours are like a language which drives good graphic designs and a
good application of such in adequate and proper percentage in intensity and essence
hugely underscores the degree of the beauty about that graphic work. I love cool and
sweet colours.
In my professional practice, I employ the use of some digital applications like the Corel
Draw, Adobe Photoshop, Print Artist, and Microsoft Office among other digital tools.
“Untitled” 2012. Medium: Digital Print. Size: 16’’ by 20’’. Artist: Johnson Okechukwu
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“Arise!” 2012. Medium: Digital Print. Size: 16’’ by 20’’. Artist: Johnson Okechukwu
“Journal Cover” 2013. Medium: Digital Design. Size: 8.5’’ by 11’’. Artist: Johnson Okechukwu
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3.) CHIDI OSWALD ONWUEKWE
BIO
I was born in Awka in November 11, 1984. My Primary and Secondary School Education
were in College Demonstration Primary School and Igwebuike Grammar School Awka,
respectively. I developed interest in art at the age of five. I was influenced by my eldest
brother Obinna, who did many comic illustrations with pen, ink, and water colour. As
time went on I realized that I could make imaginative pictorial compositions. With that I
started my own comic illustrations with pencils and ink. World Wrestling Federation in
the nineties influenced me as much. My primary school mates would ask me to sketch
superstars like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Psycho
Sid, Papa Shango, Shawn Michaels and so on. I would delve into my imagination to dig
out my perception of the wrestlers’ anatomical framework, garb and poises.
During my secondary school days in Igwebuike grammar School, if we were given
assignment that required drawing, my pals would urge me to sketch theirs for them. I
often made small token from them for each drawing. I was nicknamed “the second
artmaster”. Every holiday I would create a comic story that fascinated my family and
friends. Apart from my elder brother Obinna, some people contributed to my ardent
20
interest in art. My parents were supportive in many ways. Mr Amobi Ebudide nutured
and guided me throughout my Odinary level examinations.
I picked interest in digital arts in 2003 when Chinedu, my immediate elder brother
installed a desktop computer my mother bought. Obinna sent some comic books,
Dreamcast game console, software packages like Photoshop 7, Lightwave 7, Premiere
and After effects. I started experimenting with windows Paint programme and
subsequently with Photoshop 7. My first attempt was my still comic characters of
“Mutants of the universe” title. Also, my debut digital illustration in Photoshop was
“Mortal kombat” characters such as Liu-Kang, Sub-Zero and Kung Lao.
By my third year in 2006, a remarkable experience came to pass when I completed 20-
page comic illustration with Photoshop and CorelDraw respectively. John Otaka helped
in editing and dummy of the comic titled “Enforcers”. John Otaka was a good layout
designer, proficient in Photoshop application for photo editing. My mum funded the
publication.
I involved fully in digital art when I enrolled in Nnamdi Azikiwe university Awka for a
Master of Fine Arts Degree in Grapics (MFA). From there I was advised by Professor
Cliff Nwanna to attend art symposia, conferences and publish in journals. Through these
successive outings I became exposed. I attended Society of Nigerian Artists National
Symposium Lagos (2010), Faculty of Arts Conference on Humanities, Nnamdi Azikiwe
University (2011), Exhibition for formal opening of Prof. Ezenwa-Ohaeto Resource
Centre Awka (2011), Second Society of Nigerian Artists National Symposium and art
exhibition, Calabar(2011), Anambra chapter of the Society of Nigerian Artists Art
Exhibition, Awka (“growth”, 2011), Omenala Unizik Art Exhibition, Nnamdi Azikiwe
21
University (2011), of Arts Conference on Humanities, Nnamdi Azikiwe University
(2012), Igboukwu New Yam festival art exhibition,National Gallery of Art,
Igboukwu(2012), Life in my City Art Festival, Enugu (2012) and the First Faculty of
Environmental Sciences Conference on “Green Environment”, Anambra State
University, Uli (2012) and Enugu State Ministry of Culture and Tourism Art Exhibition
(2012). I have published relevant information on draw and paint technique of digital
illustration in some academic journals. I am about to complete my MFA degree.
RESULT AND DISCUSSION:
I usually employ the ‘draw and paint’ technique for digital illustrations. First of all I
make line drawings with pen and ink, which I would scan thereafter and trace in Adobe
Photoshop or related vector program such as CorelDraw. The next step is defining the
chiaroscuro effects using digital brush tools and feather properties. The atmospheric
effect is usually the last thing I do while designing on Adobe Photoshop layout. I do not
refrain from employing layering properties for composition and design. I usually add
texts, speech bulbs and the related elements as and when do to enhance my style. Most of
the times, my settings are usually Igbo or Nigerian in some occasions. I create works of
art such that they would delve into the subconscious minds of viewers and their emotions
as well.
22
“Transition” 2012. Medium: Digital Illustration. Size: 24’’ by 36’’. Artist: Chidi Onwuekwe
“Race To the Top” 2011. Medium: Digital Illustration. Size: 36’’ by 60’’. Artist: Chidi Onwuekwe
23
“Explosions” 2012. Medium: Digital Illustration. Size: 36’’ by 36’’. Artist: Chidi Onwuekwe
24
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING A COMPUTER, A TABLET
AND A STYLUS TO CREATE WORKS OF ART
The advantages and disadvantages with all forms of art is that there are quite a few pros
and cons. Now if your artistic piece is controversial then that's a whole other story.
Critics tend to place more negative ideas about digital art as it tends to be a comparatively
new form of art. I would like the opportunity to consider the pros and cons of the liberty
that digital art allows for generally controversial art. Digital Art has allowed the
autonomy to articulate controversial views that they may not have had the in the past.
This enables the artist to reach a wide audience at any given time. Digital art is a fairly
new form of artistry, considering painting has been around for hundreds of years so there
are always things to be cautious of; mainly the negatives of digital art technology and the
freedom that it allows. One negative to explain can be the actual "realism" of the
substance provided in the form of digital art. Various clips, pictures, links can be formed
together to give us the impression that it is an imaginative piece. Some individuals that
work for major television shows use digital technology for various news reels. How can
we be assured that what is being presented is what it appears to be?
Over the past 10 years, digital technology had a profound influence on artist and their
works of art. Ever since its invention, artists have been using computers, tablets and
stylus to create and recreate some very outstanding pieces of work. Artists were able to
produce everything ranging from interactive installation to purely internet based art. The
use of the computer has not only challenged traditional notion of the artist and his
artwork, but rather it creates a whole new shift among the arts.
25
CONCLUSION
There are many aspects that can be mentioned in this regard, however, one of the most
obvious is the fact that computerize technology has brought about many changes in the
artistic and commercial world. The most obvious is that an artist can easily edit and
reconstruct images within their work. There are also many tools to produce various kind
of output and gather huge amount of information and storage.
Some digital artists find it very hard to not use a computer or a tablet. For Fatima Lassay,
“it is hard not using her tablet or her computer to draw, because most of her paintings
started out by playing around with lines and brush design”.
It is then my belief that the use of the computer or a tablet, or stylus is like a treasure
chest of interactive programs that are designed to improve our artistic skills. I strongly
recommend that artists tap into this virgin area of Art production.
DECLARATIONS
- Availability of Supporting Data – Not Applicable
- Competing Interests – Not Applicable
- Funding – Not Applicable
- Authors' contributions – Not Applicable
- Acknowledgements - This is a compilation of works by Ikenna Aghanya, Johnson
Okechukwu and Chidi Onwuekwe, all contemporary Igbo digital artists. Most of the
26
works included in this article are outcome of their several years of visual art research
and verbalization. A lot of experimental techniques were used in the creation of these
digital artworks. The various digital artworks shown in this article, all are geared
towards the attempt at addressing 21st
Century challenges and opportunities,
especially in a developing country such as Nigeria. The three artists have always
believed in progress and in creativity’s role in progress. They have also remained
critical to most traditionalist modes of art creation, hence they concentrated on
various interactive media such as, photography, video and installation, as their choice
of art tools.
The works contained in this paper has opened a new vista in the area of visual
communication. It has shown that African visual artists could engage local issues
alongside foreign counterparts from a global perspective without being victims of the
vicissitudes of global socio-political and cultural turbulence.
27
Reference:
Baker, Robin. Designing the Future: The Computer Transformation of Reality. London:
Thames and Hudson 2008.
Catmull, Edwin and Smith, Aaron. 3-D Transformations of Images in Scanline Order.
Washington: J. Thomas Books, 1999.
Crary, Jonathan. Techniques of the Observer. London: MIT Press, 1990.
Davis, Douglas. A History/Prophecy of The Collaboration between Science Technology
and Art. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1985
Feldman, Edmund B. Practical Art Criticism. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc, 1994.
Fulton, Wayne. A Few Scanning Tips, (1997-2008). Retrieved July 17, 2012 from
http://www.scantips.com/basics1b.html
Goodman, Cynthia. Digital Visions. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1987.
Spalter, Anne Morgan, The Computer in The Visual Art. New York: Addison Wesley
Longman, Inc., 1999.
Read, Herbert E. The Grassroots of Art: Lectures on Social Aspects of Art in an
Industrial Age. Cleveland: World Publications, 1961
Richard, Wendy. Design and Technology Erasing the Boundaries. New York: Mostrand
and Reinhold, 2005

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Digital/Computer Paintings as a Modern- day Igbo Artists’ vehicle for creating unique Artworks (Analyzing the Digital Paintings of Ikenna Aghanya Ph.D, Johnson Okechukwu and Chidi Onwuekwe)

  • 1. 1 Digital/Computer Paintings as a Modern- day Igbo Artists’ vehicle for creating unique Artworks (Analyzing the Digital Paintings of Ikenna Aghanya Ph.D, Johnson Okechukwu and Chidi Onwuekwe) By Dr. Ikenna O. Aghanya Chief Lecturer Dept. of Fine & Applied Arts Federal Polytechnic, Oko Nigeria Email: iyke70@gmail.com
  • 2. 2 ABSTRACT: Revolutions come in many varieties. Some tear down established notions destructively, while others consist of forging new paradigms through constructive means such as an ideological or technological innovation that fundamentally alters an individual or group’s creative path. But all have their place in history. This paper charts a course of change in art and art styles, as been practiced by some modern-day Igbo artists. It follows the meandering path that has been influenced by technological advances that have in turn influenced art culture and practices in technique. In particular, this paper examines how the modern-day processes of digital art have attempted to broaden the modern-day Igbo artist’s knowledge base, and has influenced new ways of doing old things. Together these ideas have impacted modern-day art by creating a fertile landscape allowing an artist’s inquisitive tendency to take root and uniquely flourish. The aim of this paper is to analyze the various digital paintings produced by three modern-day Igbo artists (Ikenna Aghanya, Okechukwu Johnson and Chidi Onwuekwe) and in turn examine how the use of the computer, as an art tool has affected their creative process. The paper will also look at the functions of this medium as it pertains to each of the decorative paintings done by these artists. KEYWORDS: Digital Art, Igbo Artists, Art Styles, Nigeria, Technological Innovation.
  • 3. 3 INTRODUCTION: Fine Art spans the history of mankind from the caves of Lascaux to the dazzling neons of Ginza. In both this extensive history and in the rather recent explosion of visual communication in the 20th and 21st centuries, there is occasionally a blurring difference and overlaying of advertising art, graphic design and fine art. After all, they all share many of the same elements, theories, principles, practices and languages, and sometimes the same patron or client1 . In advertising art, the definitive objective is the sale of goods and services. In graphic design, “the quintessence is to give order to information, form to ideas, appearance and feeling to artifacts that document human experience.” By the early 19th Century, artists were trained in specific areas of art, such as, Fine Art, Architecture and Photography. The concept of improving the arts came about when a group of artists wanted to commercialize their artwork. In the late 19th Century, a movement known as, “Art Nouveau” was established to define a new area of the arts. The rapid evolutions of this movement can be best understood by an exhibition that was held in the 1900’s to categorize the arts. Art Nouveau was in many ways the direct result of the Industrial Revolutions of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Towards the end of this transitional period, major changes were brought about in the arts. Movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism and Abstract expression (just to name a few) came about due to the changing process of the arts2 . In each one of these movements change occurred. Most notable were: fragmentation, motion, illustration, photomontage and machine. While some artist embraced these new found possibilities, many did not. 1 Robin Baker, Designing the Future, Thames and Hudson, London, 2008, p.19 2 Morgan Spalter, The Computer in The Visual Art. Longman, Inc., New York 1999, p.118
  • 4. 4 After introduction of personal computers and software programmers in the 1970s computers were used to generate art. Machines began to replace man, thus affecting designers and artists alike. This development of machines made it possible to create digital art thus providing the ideal opportunity for commercial development within the arts. For example, Marcel Duchamp used different pieces of metals to create a series of complex imagery in his work. By 1980, computers emerged as the “de facto” standard for art. There, after artist began to work very closely with their new found palette to create works of art beyond their own imagination. Computer art soon began to extend from one part of the world to another. Modern art exhibitions often include more digital paintings, videos and installations than traditional painting or drawings. Even artists who use traditional techniques increasingly use modern technology such as the internet to display their works and communicate with other artists. Modern technology provided a means for artists to create works faster with more tools than ever before. METHODS/EXPERIMENTAL A lot of experimental techniques were used in the creation of these digital artworks. The various digital artworks produced by these three Igbo artists are all geared towards the attempt at addressing 21st Century challenges and opportunities, especially in a developing country such as Nigeria. The three artists have always believed in progress and in creativity’s role in progress. They have also remained critical to most traditionalist modes of art creation, hence they concentrated on experimenting with various interactive media such as, computer, photography, video and installation, as their choice of art tools.
  • 5. 5 ORIGINS OF DIGITAL ART: The origins of digital art began from plain patterns and shapes made by computer programs into finished works of art which can look as realistic as water color or oil painting. The evolution of computer-generated art is intrinsically connected with the accomplishment made by scientists, mathematicians and engineer with the access to technology and technical skills. In her book Digital Visions, Cynthia Goodman points out that, “accomplishments with the computer were achieved by scientists, mathematician and engineers, who had access to powerful mainframe”3 . Anne Morgan Spalter believes that, “Many artist followed the path laid down by the earliest computer artist and developed more complex approaches to programming artwork.”4 Nevertheless, artists have always been looking for new and creative ways to express their ideas, since many of them were trained in Fine Arts, Stage Design, Architectures and Photography. The profound impact of technology over the past 25 years has only begun to be appreciated. Computer technology has since achieved some of the most stupendous successes in creating art. For example, the internet provides endless information that empowers artist to share information with each other. Most of the work created with the computer is either manipulated, or rendered, which helps artist to create work in record time. Artists such as Cynthia B. Rubin, Ikenna O. Aghanya and James F. Walker (as well as others) have contributed tremendously to the computer art world. Some of them have 3 Cynthia Goodman. Digital Visions. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York:, 1987. p.29 4 Morgan. The Computer in The Visual Art. 1999, p.75
  • 6. 6 discovered that the ability to combine photographic images, physical paint, and digital paint into layers of ideas. EVOLUTION OF THE DIGITAL ART SYSTEM: The evolution of digital paint system can be best understood through the widespread introduction of digital computers, software programmers, graphic tablets, and the stylus (just to name a few). Alvy Smith noted, “a digital paint system is a set of tools for dealing with pixels.” In this system, the artist is often able to arrange their painting in layers, which enable them to edit each layer separately. This intervention not only changed design procedures, but rather it also made it possible to conceptualized the current development of digital art. The main difference between digital paint and traditional paint is that digital paint has the ability to undo and redo. Digital painters also have more tools at their disposal, such as: virtual palette with many colors, mouse, tablet, and stylus. In some cases digital painters prefer to use tablets to create digital painting instead of a mouse or pen and paper. In the 1970’s the first digital paint system program was designed by Joan Miller at Bell Labs. She was one of the first designers to have created a rough paint program on a 3- bit frame. This programmer was then used by Ivan Sutherland and Charles Csuri to develop the first intricate liner advance program in the early 1970’s. However, Sutherland had previously developed his Sketchpad (this program allowed users to draw on a computer
  • 7. 7 screen) and interactive computer graphic system. The Sketchpad is believed to have led to the creation of a more advanced form of the graphic tablet.5 Over the years Dick Shoup, Garland Stern, Alvy Smith, and Marc Leroy developed 8-bit paint programmers’ for E&S Frame Buffer. By 1978 Alvy created the first 24-bit paint programmer for higher video resolution, while Marc Levoy implemented a program that preserves soft edges by using a color mapping technique. This invention became the platform for future development. Hence digital painting system of the 1980’s saw an introduction of paint programs such as raster graphic, bitmap images and pixels. The paint system had become so adaptable, that it was used in software programmers for personal computers. This enables digital painters to assemble and create paintings’ in higher resolution. These 24 and 34-bit paint programs were developed by Richard Taylor, Thomas Porter and a few other designers, and was later used on Pixar image computers. This technological growth has since expanded the range of skills, which digital artists need to create more advance digital works of art. Towards the early 1990’s there was a sudden increase for digital paint programmers as technology became more advanced. Microsoft and many other software companies became patrons of this lucrative business. And, in1994, Microsoft merged with Altamira Composer to create Microsoft’s Photo Draw 2000. These were some of the first steps of advanced painting software. 5 Douglas Davis. A History/Prophecy of The Collaboration between Science Technology and Art. Praeger Publishers, New York, 1985. p.20
  • 8. 8 COMPTUTER, STYLUS, GRAPHIC TABLETS AND DIGITAL PAINTINGS. This area of the paper would define some of the terms that the reader would encounter in the process of reading this paper. It will also assist the reader in clarifying the main aspects of this paper. What is a Computer? According to Douglas Davis, a computer is, “an electronic or electromechanical device that accepts “input” information, processes or modifies it according to a logical, predetermined sequence and produce “output” information.”6 There are two basic type of computers; analogue and digital. An analogue computer uses continuous electrical codes while a digital computer stores its information in a digital format. The first computer was so large it took up the space of an entire room. As computers evolved they were made small enough to fit on one’s desk and later even on one’s lap (i.e., laptop). A Stylus is a computerized instrument used for writing text or drawing lines on the surface of a computer. The stylus is an electronically sensitive tool that is attached to a tablet which improves the precision of touch. It is commonly used with hand held computer games such as the Nintendo DS.7 A Graphic Tablet is a substitute input device used in place of a mouse or in conjunction with a mouse or other pointing device to allow an artist to work with precise hand movements and give the effect of drawing with pen and ink. Anne Morgan Spalter points 6 Douglas Davis. A History/Prophecy of The Collaboration between Science Technology and Art. 1985. p.20 7 Douglas Davis. A History/Prophecy of The Collaboration between Science Technology and Art. 1985. p.49
  • 9. 9 out that, “tablet can also be used with a mouse like pointing device called a puck; the puck resembles a traditional mouse, but its precise location on a surface is shown through a cross-hair in a transparent view finder. She also went on to say that pucks are useful for precisely digitizing various types of layout and engineering or architectural drawing.” Early model tablets were commonly known as acoustic tablets or spark (wooden alphabetical tablet) while the most modern notable those by Wacom, are electromagnetic or pressure sensitive. Digital Painting is an emerging art form in which digital paint replaces traditional painting technique such as watercolor, oil painting impasto, acrylic etc. This art form is created on a computer in digital format. Digital Art consist of computer generated images, algorithmic art scanned photograph, vector graphic etc. The artists also have access to several tools that are not available to the traditional painter. For example, a virtual palette consisting of a very wide variety of color, almost any size canvas brushes, erasers, pencils and most of all the ability to undo and redo your work. A pixel is a computer word formed from Picture Element, because a pixel is the smallest element of the digital image. Digital images are dimensioned in pixels. To further corroborate this concept of pixels is absolutely essential to be able to use digital images, because pixels are all that exists in digital images. It may help to realize that a picture constructed of colored mosaic tile chips on a wall or floor is a somewhat similar concept, being composed of many tiny tile areas, each represented by a sample of one color. From a reasonable viewing distance, we do not notice the individual small tiles; our brain just sees the overall picture represented by them. The concept of pixels is similar, except that these pixels (digitized color sample values) are extremely small, and are aligned in
  • 10. 10 perfect rows and columns of tiny squares, to compose the rectangular total image. A pixel is the remembered color value of each one of these color samples representing tiny square areas. The size of the image is dimensioned in pixels, X columns wide and Y rows tall.”8 ANALYSIS OF ARTIST WORKS OF ART Technology has advanced from computers the width of a room that can only perform one particular task, to personal computers (PC's) that fits on a desk and perform multiple tasks. Understanding computers and their programs and being capable of applying that knowledge is very important in today's world. Artists in the future may find it beneficial to have a strong background in computer technology. It has been about 50 plus years since the first digital computer was introduced to designers and without a doubt it continues to advance the process in a massive way. Digital/Computer Art is now entering a new phase of its development. Artists such as Ikenna Aghanya, Johnson Okechukwu and Chidi Onwuekwe and so many others have contributed tremendously in the history and practice of digital art. The works of art that they have produced over the years have represented a significant departure from traditional art. These three artists have also developed a host of new digital skills that can improve and inspire other digital artist. 8 Douglas Davis. A History/Prophecy of The Collaboration between Science Technology and Art. 1985. p.18
  • 11. 11 1.) IKENNA OBUMNEME AGHANYA BIO Ikenna was born in Oct. 1972. He had his secondary education at the Federal Govternment College, Enugu from 1983 - 1989. In 1990 he was admitted to study Fine Arts at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. He graduated with honours in 1995, with a B.A Degree in Fine & Industrial Arts, specializing in Graphics/Advertising Designs. He worked as a Graphic Designer for Niconeng Limited from 1996 - 1999. In 1999 he was awarded a scholarship to study for an MFA Degree in Computer Graphics at the prestigious College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Metro Manila, the Philippines. In 2001, he was awarded the M.F.A Degree, specializing in Computer Graphics. He returned to Nigeria in 2002 and got an appointment at the Federal Poyltechinc Oko as a Digital Art lecturer. Ikenna is a pioneer in digital arts in Nigeria. He also obtained holds a PhD candidate in Fine Arts (Studio) at the Imo State University, Owerri, Nigeria in 2019. He has exhibited his artworks and presented papers on Digital Arts in Nigeria,
  • 12. 12 Ghana, New Zealand, Brunei, the Philippines, the UK, the USA and Korea. He has made tremendous contributions in the education of young artist over the years. His works of art extends his vision into the invisible realm of experience. According to Ikenna, “my art works evoke the contrast of the digital life and the analog life.” Ikenna belongs to a number of International and Local Art organizations, most notably the E-Art Philippines, CFA Alumini group (University of the Philippines), The Society of Nigerian Artists, just to mention a few. He is also the CEO of PrintPlus, a Graphic Design firm. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Ikenna is presently working on ways to fuse the use of technology (as an art tool) and traditional art techniques, into one Art structure or style. This technique can be seen in most of his recent Art works. In 2001, as part of his MFA thesis work at the University of the Philippines, Ikenna embarked on using the fusion of digital printed images on canvas and acrylic paint to create some social commentary paintings/posters on the problems in his home country, Nigeria. “Umu Afrika” 2011. Medium: Digital Painting on Photo-paper. Size: 24’’ by 36’’. Artist: Ikenna Aghanya
  • 13. 13 “Divine Inspiration” 2011. Medium: Digital Painting on Photo-paper. Size: 24’’ by 36’’. Artist: Ikenna Aghanya “In the midst of plenty” 2011. Medium: Digital Painting on Photo-paper. Size: 24’’ by 36’’ . Artist: Ikenna Aghanya
  • 14. 14 2.) JOHNSON OKECHUKWU BIO Johnson Chukwuma Okechukwu (b. January, 1969) is the fourth child of late Mr. Charles and Mrs. Victoria Okechukwu of Oko in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra state. As a very young boy, even before his adventure into education, he had always exhibited an innate attitude of always drawing or scribbling forms and objects on paper and even on the sand. This attitude became very uncontrollably expressed that no one bothered or disturbed him any longer, and he grew up with it. He started his educational pursuit at the Ogui Nike Primary School, Enugu; went further by gaining admission into the prestigious College of the Immaculate Conception (C.I.C.), Enugu from 1979 – 1984 and came out with his O’ level papers at the end of the period. But it is absolutely amazing and true about Johnson that all through his secondary school days, there was virtually a no properly organized tutelage on art. Then at C.I.C., Enugu, the school authorities exhibited a relatively passive attitude and approach to subjects like Art. The curriculum in place then was designed to focus hugely on the sciences, the liberal arts and commercial subjects with neither a substantive art teacher nor any art studio
  • 15. 15 available in the school. All through his stay at the school, every art teacher that was posted to the school appeared to be on transit as none ever completed one full academic year. Some years would even come and go without any art teacher at all. However, this apathy against Art never really bothered him. Art has been a subject he so loved but he rather ended up not offering Fine Art among his subjects at the School Certificate level. However, a turning point came up in his life in 1985 when he personally considered his O’ level papers to be very unsatisfactory to him without any trace of Fine Art. At this point, he did not stop merely at this consideration but went beyond that to wake up the innate quality he had always exhibited much earlier by going ahead to sit for an O’ level examinations including Fine Art. He prepared and sat for this examination practically under no tutelage but came out with a very excellent result and in that same year he sat for his JAMB exam and was successful. He gained admission to the Art department of the University of Benin in 1986. His sojourn at the Benin Art School primarily marked his ever well organized formal training in art and secondly, it opened a great window of opportunities for him to have a practical communication with the rich cultural heritage of the old Benin kingdom and to tap from it. This alone added yet another colour to his art. Johnson was successfully schooled through the Art department of the University of Benin and graduated in 1990 with a specialization in Graphics. On graduation, after the compulsory one year national service by late 1991, he gained employment as a Graphic Artist in 1992 with Reads & Mark Limited, (an advertising and marketing company based in Enugu). His venture into the advertising industry tremendously contributed to the improvement of his art by giving him the privilege of
  • 16. 16 taking an early peep into the digital world. His eventual adaptation to the digital tools, via his advent into the world of advertising, opened him up to the vast flow of digitally visual information techniques which put him on a better pedestal to reflect these techniques in his art. Johnson’s venture into the advertising industry equally gave him the rare privilege of relating with other artists from different agencies as they shared common knowledge and ideas. He had worked with some agencies among which are the Reads & Mark limited, Enugu, A.O. & A. Associates, Lagos and many more. Due to his pursuit for research and improvement, Johnson has joined forces with the Federal Polytechnic, Oko as a lecturer in Graphics. This he has done with a strong resolve to nurture and groom the young and upcoming Graphic artists with a view to closing up the very wide gap between the classroom and the industry. He is also the Chief Operating Officer of Johnson Goldwaters & Associates, a graphic design, advertising, printing and publishing company he had put together to drive home his knowledge of digital graphics. This establishment was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission due to his advertising background on 9th December, 1996 in Lagos. Since inception till date it has undertaken some commissioned jobs for many organizations like First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Royal Cargo Shipping Agencies Limited to mention but a few. He belongs to so many professional bodies among which are the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Advertising Practitioners’ Council of Nigeria (APCON) to mention but a few. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: I strongly detest working with images that have been over doctored by this class of photographers who menace our image bank of pictorial information by eroding the real
  • 17. 17 essence of a photographic image. In fact, naturalism gives me absolute drive as nature itself is an embodiment of beauty. I’m very passionate about colours particularly when these are beautifully interpreted on a piece of graphic work with a strong sense of balance and proportion. Colours are like a language which drives good graphic designs and a good application of such in adequate and proper percentage in intensity and essence hugely underscores the degree of the beauty about that graphic work. I love cool and sweet colours. In my professional practice, I employ the use of some digital applications like the Corel Draw, Adobe Photoshop, Print Artist, and Microsoft Office among other digital tools. “Untitled” 2012. Medium: Digital Print. Size: 16’’ by 20’’. Artist: Johnson Okechukwu
  • 18. 18 “Arise!” 2012. Medium: Digital Print. Size: 16’’ by 20’’. Artist: Johnson Okechukwu “Journal Cover” 2013. Medium: Digital Design. Size: 8.5’’ by 11’’. Artist: Johnson Okechukwu
  • 19. 19 3.) CHIDI OSWALD ONWUEKWE BIO I was born in Awka in November 11, 1984. My Primary and Secondary School Education were in College Demonstration Primary School and Igwebuike Grammar School Awka, respectively. I developed interest in art at the age of five. I was influenced by my eldest brother Obinna, who did many comic illustrations with pen, ink, and water colour. As time went on I realized that I could make imaginative pictorial compositions. With that I started my own comic illustrations with pencils and ink. World Wrestling Federation in the nineties influenced me as much. My primary school mates would ask me to sketch superstars like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Psycho Sid, Papa Shango, Shawn Michaels and so on. I would delve into my imagination to dig out my perception of the wrestlers’ anatomical framework, garb and poises. During my secondary school days in Igwebuike grammar School, if we were given assignment that required drawing, my pals would urge me to sketch theirs for them. I often made small token from them for each drawing. I was nicknamed “the second artmaster”. Every holiday I would create a comic story that fascinated my family and friends. Apart from my elder brother Obinna, some people contributed to my ardent
  • 20. 20 interest in art. My parents were supportive in many ways. Mr Amobi Ebudide nutured and guided me throughout my Odinary level examinations. I picked interest in digital arts in 2003 when Chinedu, my immediate elder brother installed a desktop computer my mother bought. Obinna sent some comic books, Dreamcast game console, software packages like Photoshop 7, Lightwave 7, Premiere and After effects. I started experimenting with windows Paint programme and subsequently with Photoshop 7. My first attempt was my still comic characters of “Mutants of the universe” title. Also, my debut digital illustration in Photoshop was “Mortal kombat” characters such as Liu-Kang, Sub-Zero and Kung Lao. By my third year in 2006, a remarkable experience came to pass when I completed 20- page comic illustration with Photoshop and CorelDraw respectively. John Otaka helped in editing and dummy of the comic titled “Enforcers”. John Otaka was a good layout designer, proficient in Photoshop application for photo editing. My mum funded the publication. I involved fully in digital art when I enrolled in Nnamdi Azikiwe university Awka for a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Grapics (MFA). From there I was advised by Professor Cliff Nwanna to attend art symposia, conferences and publish in journals. Through these successive outings I became exposed. I attended Society of Nigerian Artists National Symposium Lagos (2010), Faculty of Arts Conference on Humanities, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (2011), Exhibition for formal opening of Prof. Ezenwa-Ohaeto Resource Centre Awka (2011), Second Society of Nigerian Artists National Symposium and art exhibition, Calabar(2011), Anambra chapter of the Society of Nigerian Artists Art Exhibition, Awka (“growth”, 2011), Omenala Unizik Art Exhibition, Nnamdi Azikiwe
  • 21. 21 University (2011), of Arts Conference on Humanities, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (2012), Igboukwu New Yam festival art exhibition,National Gallery of Art, Igboukwu(2012), Life in my City Art Festival, Enugu (2012) and the First Faculty of Environmental Sciences Conference on “Green Environment”, Anambra State University, Uli (2012) and Enugu State Ministry of Culture and Tourism Art Exhibition (2012). I have published relevant information on draw and paint technique of digital illustration in some academic journals. I am about to complete my MFA degree. RESULT AND DISCUSSION: I usually employ the ‘draw and paint’ technique for digital illustrations. First of all I make line drawings with pen and ink, which I would scan thereafter and trace in Adobe Photoshop or related vector program such as CorelDraw. The next step is defining the chiaroscuro effects using digital brush tools and feather properties. The atmospheric effect is usually the last thing I do while designing on Adobe Photoshop layout. I do not refrain from employing layering properties for composition and design. I usually add texts, speech bulbs and the related elements as and when do to enhance my style. Most of the times, my settings are usually Igbo or Nigerian in some occasions. I create works of art such that they would delve into the subconscious minds of viewers and their emotions as well.
  • 22. 22 “Transition” 2012. Medium: Digital Illustration. Size: 24’’ by 36’’. Artist: Chidi Onwuekwe “Race To the Top” 2011. Medium: Digital Illustration. Size: 36’’ by 60’’. Artist: Chidi Onwuekwe
  • 23. 23 “Explosions” 2012. Medium: Digital Illustration. Size: 36’’ by 36’’. Artist: Chidi Onwuekwe
  • 24. 24 ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING A COMPUTER, A TABLET AND A STYLUS TO CREATE WORKS OF ART The advantages and disadvantages with all forms of art is that there are quite a few pros and cons. Now if your artistic piece is controversial then that's a whole other story. Critics tend to place more negative ideas about digital art as it tends to be a comparatively new form of art. I would like the opportunity to consider the pros and cons of the liberty that digital art allows for generally controversial art. Digital Art has allowed the autonomy to articulate controversial views that they may not have had the in the past. This enables the artist to reach a wide audience at any given time. Digital art is a fairly new form of artistry, considering painting has been around for hundreds of years so there are always things to be cautious of; mainly the negatives of digital art technology and the freedom that it allows. One negative to explain can be the actual "realism" of the substance provided in the form of digital art. Various clips, pictures, links can be formed together to give us the impression that it is an imaginative piece. Some individuals that work for major television shows use digital technology for various news reels. How can we be assured that what is being presented is what it appears to be? Over the past 10 years, digital technology had a profound influence on artist and their works of art. Ever since its invention, artists have been using computers, tablets and stylus to create and recreate some very outstanding pieces of work. Artists were able to produce everything ranging from interactive installation to purely internet based art. The use of the computer has not only challenged traditional notion of the artist and his artwork, but rather it creates a whole new shift among the arts.
  • 25. 25 CONCLUSION There are many aspects that can be mentioned in this regard, however, one of the most obvious is the fact that computerize technology has brought about many changes in the artistic and commercial world. The most obvious is that an artist can easily edit and reconstruct images within their work. There are also many tools to produce various kind of output and gather huge amount of information and storage. Some digital artists find it very hard to not use a computer or a tablet. For Fatima Lassay, “it is hard not using her tablet or her computer to draw, because most of her paintings started out by playing around with lines and brush design”. It is then my belief that the use of the computer or a tablet, or stylus is like a treasure chest of interactive programs that are designed to improve our artistic skills. I strongly recommend that artists tap into this virgin area of Art production. DECLARATIONS - Availability of Supporting Data – Not Applicable - Competing Interests – Not Applicable - Funding – Not Applicable - Authors' contributions – Not Applicable - Acknowledgements - This is a compilation of works by Ikenna Aghanya, Johnson Okechukwu and Chidi Onwuekwe, all contemporary Igbo digital artists. Most of the
  • 26. 26 works included in this article are outcome of their several years of visual art research and verbalization. A lot of experimental techniques were used in the creation of these digital artworks. The various digital artworks shown in this article, all are geared towards the attempt at addressing 21st Century challenges and opportunities, especially in a developing country such as Nigeria. The three artists have always believed in progress and in creativity’s role in progress. They have also remained critical to most traditionalist modes of art creation, hence they concentrated on various interactive media such as, photography, video and installation, as their choice of art tools. The works contained in this paper has opened a new vista in the area of visual communication. It has shown that African visual artists could engage local issues alongside foreign counterparts from a global perspective without being victims of the vicissitudes of global socio-political and cultural turbulence.
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