Educating The Public

Paula Sanders

I have alluded to this topic before in other columns and others have also given opinions about it. The topic is: How do we explain what we do on the computer. This problem seems to be relatively if not absolutely universal since different readers have expressed how they handle it in reference to other columns. However, I have never devoted a full column to it and I decided it was necessary.

I'll start by using my own work as an example. I was a professional photographer before I started to use the computer. While I have done work that was more symbolic in nature, recently I have enjoyed creating beautiful and tranquil scenery. I use tiny pieces of my photographs and combine them. Then I apply software, filter, etc. to these pictures. I use a lot of masks, selections, and layers. I, also, will make a bird, for example, larger than life or a color very different than one would find it in real life. I am not trying to reproduce nature but to use nature, so to speak. But when people see my work, they invariably ask "Where did you take this picture?" When I try to explain what I do, they ask, "What kind of software do you use to create it?" As if the software without my know-how can build this image. Even non-digital artists, seem to have the same confusion about our work.

In Renderosity, many of you will not have this exact problem because of the type of work you do. However, I am sure you will experience others. Many of you, I am sure, have created scenes in Bryce or Vue d'Esprit and have had the same or a similar question asked. The same is true of Poser figures and characters an objects rendered in 3D programs. From experience, it seems to me, the majority of people want to believe that the individual artist has not created the material. Well, who did then? It didn't happen on its own, and it certainly, can't spring to life when you install a software program.

It all comes back to the question? How do we educate the public to what we do? How do we enter basic shows that accept all media without people misjudging our work? How do we differentiate for the public well printed photographs from fine art digital creations?

I have tried by putting a small movie on my website on each gallery page. I doubt people look at it. I have explanations in my portfolio and try to have a sheet that describes my work when I have a show. Unfortunately, it seems to make little difference. If it is not a photograph, people can't understand it. The only way I have found to educate people is to demonstrate technique on the computer. But that isn't always feasible.

Now I know many of you have excellent ideas for I have read them when you have shared your ideas in other columns that I have written. Please share them with others. Maybe we all can help clarify this problem and, thus, make it easier for us to not only sell but to have others appreciate the type of work we all do. Also, if any of you have stories about "misunderstood work" and would like to share them, please do.

  • As always, I invite you to visit my web site, Perpetual Visions


  • The Paula Sanders Report
    is a regular Renderosity Front Page featured column,
    where Paula investigates and comments on
    graphic software, techniques, and other relevant material
    through her reviews, tutorials, and general articles.