How Art has Transformed From Pencil to Stylus

Art From Pencil to Stylus

Sachin Puthran was there when it all happened. It was 1995; the time of hand-drawn illustrations, airbrushed finished images and cut-paste typesetting. Digital was slowly coming in, bringing with it a generation gap. There was an air of fear in the older Art Directors as the younger generation, fascinated by Mac user interface, was already learning software. Below, he takes us on the journey of an Artist, from then to now.

Art From Pencil to Stylus
The Yakshangana Performer

The Analog Age

The earlier generation was blessed with the passion and experience of using the tactile medium. It gave the true satisfaction of working on various surfaces using different media and styles. Everybody knows art back then was a luxury, a rich passion. “It was larger than life,” says Sachin “where expressions were a physical manifestation of the artist’s vision. People travelled to view art in public spaces. Getting to see and meet the artist was truly an experience of joy and inspiration. Nothing came easy.”

Art From Pencil to Stylus
The Coconut Tree

Art for Art’s Sake

According to Sachin, traditional artists still swear by the smell, the touch and the feel of the traditional medium. That’s because they seemed to have understood the sensitivity and developed a purist approach to Art. They were the ones who stuck to the medium and rejected the so-called ‘digital medium’ that was going to take them by surprise in a few years. But the fear had set in.

Art From Pencil to Stylus

 The Advent of Computers

The arrival of first generation computers in the early 90s opened a Pandora’s box for visual artists to explore the slow but responsive medium. Reminiscing about those days. Softwares were slowly heading towards capturing the artist’s imagination. Suddenly the advantages and disadvantages of painting digitally were getting clearer. The needs and demands of clients started changing fast. For the first time, the clock was ticking digitally. Everything that was wanted tomorrow was being delivered today.

Art From Pencil to Stylus

The Magic of Cinema

This was the time when technology was ahead of its users. Hollywood started using high-end Visual Effects or VFX and changed the art of storytelling. “There was only a thin line of difference between science fiction and realism. Software and hardware could now do magic. The Internet made downloading a popular new phenomenon. Suddenly there was a paradigm shift.” During that period, the world was changing and not everybody was able to keep up with it.

Art From Pencil to Stylus
Work in progress Mumbai

The New Millennium Generation

A creative visualising power was not enough to survive in this era. Art Directors were required to know paint and design software as well. That’s how visual grammar changed over the years, as designers incorporated photo manipulation techniques and digital retouching to create surreal imagery. “Every software upgrade brought in more features and capabilities,” says Sachin, “so much so that one day, artists were lost and filters were in.”

Art From Pencil to Stylus
JijamataUdyan Mumbai

More Clutter

The designer was engulfed by the software in the next few years, as they relied more on software and less on their skills. “Ideas were driven by styles that were possible quickly on digital. Tactile sensitivity was lost and the rat race had truly begun.” Sachin tells us. “Social media added to the confusion, as it allowed designs to be circulated and critiqued by everybody.”

Art From Pencil to Stylus
Indian Wedding

Art gets Interactive

Slowly, design in digital was opening out and was exploring new ways of touching people. The design didn’t just involve the designer, but his audience as well. New media and installation art were new storytelling techniques. Tagging and annotating gave new dimensions to Art. “Suddenly so much more could be done.” He adds.

Art From Pencil to Stylus

The Birth of the New Artist

“Equipped now with the latest gadgets, the artist was truly getting the best.” says Sachin. iPads and ‘apps’ for almost anything you wanted to do; from calligraphy to typography, were a finger click away. Everything was on the ‘cloud’ and the artist was now ‘virtual’.

Art From Pencil to Stylus
Daily Hard Work

So, Where Next?

Now is the time to think beyond. If you can imagine it, you can create it. There are endless possibilities and that should keep us all busy for a long time. But the trick today is to be open to the world and yet always do your own thing.

Published in Issue 20

Pencil or stylus? Paper or touch screen? This is just a start to the long list of questions that are swimming in every designer’s mind today. They say change is the only constant but has digitalisation really taken over the traditional methods? Would there be a time when the pencil will be forgotten forever like writers have forgotten a fountain pen?

We discuss the issue with famous Indian designers and try to understand what they think. This issue also has some very talented and unique designer like Sachin Puthran, Raghava KK, Ramanjeet Kaur and Pavan Rajurkar got featured along with much more. Mr. Xerty and Amrei Hofstatter came with unique interpretation in our MadeIn section.


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We are a bunch of enthusiastic creatives, designers and writers, who are committed to bringing forth the hidden Indian Design talent with an unbiased and unique approach to design.

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