Can you make professional art with mobile apps? “Art” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. I think to many, art doesn’t extend much beyond the most restrictive and mainstream view of the subject. Ask most people on the street what art is, and they’ll talk to you about classic paintings.
But as any artist knows, art extends far beyond that. Painting, drawing, graphic design, 3D modeling, sculpting, filmmaking, music, cooking, and dance are all forms of art, and there are countless more. There is even artistic appreciation to be found in designing air conditioning ducting or creating a financial spreadsheet. Anything that can be appreciated with the senses can be art.
What is a Professional Artist?
In general, people would classify art as amateur or professional, but the line is blurry. Professional art is the kind of art that goes into museums and onto people’s walls. Appreciators of art will spend good money to own a piece. And a professional artist can make a career off of only creating art.
Meanwhile an amateur artist is someone who would only create art as a hobby. They would not sell more than the occasional piece or commission. As a hobbyist, they’re just doing things for fun, but it doesn’t mean they are any less skilled. The difference between amateur and professional art, to me, is merely how the artist approaches their art. Artistic skill is not something easily measured. On top of that, there isn’t really a difference between how amateurs and professionals actually create their art.
The topic of this article is whether mobile apps are a valid medium for creating professional art. Canvas and paint are not things specially reserved for only “professionals”. Any consumer can buy the same materials that a professional buys. Monetarily, there isn’t a huge barrier to entry. Sure, there are cheaper materials and expensive materials, but it’s a lot less drastic than the cost to start racecar driving or horse racing professionally.
Mobile apps are also something accessible by almost everyone. However, most observers would probably assume that mobile apps are only something an amateur would use if they didn’t have the money or space for a full-fledged art studio.
Types of Art
Before deciding if art made in mobile apps is professional, we need to start with validating the mediums of art that are generally considered higher up on the tier-list. Art can be separated into physical art and digital art. Art made with mobile apps will, by definition, be digital art. Digital art can include video game art design, poster design, film and video production, and digital paintings. Plenty of people still contest these art forms as “not art” simply due to the fact that it was “made on a computer”.
While making art of a computer or other digital device can offer certain shortcuts and conveniences, it still requires an artist to have the skill and creativity to create a good composition and come up with a good idea. And things like lighting and shadows don’t exactly automate when creating digital art! To anyone who understands art, it’s obvious that digital art is legitimate for both amateur and professional purposes. And for people who don’t understand art but have an opinion regardless, they would have trouble differentiating a digital painting from a physical one.
What is an App?
Now, what is an app? An app (short for application) is just a piece of software that runs, in this case, on a mobile device. We’ve been trained to think of apps as something different than programs and applications installed on our computers. But they aren’t really all that different. Sure, they’re often optimized to be more lightweight than their desktop equivalent and run on the lower-end hardware found in phones and tablets, but they’re effectively the same. There is very little stopping someone from running the full desktop version of Photoshop on a mobile device (programming reasons aside) or emulating a mobile app on a desktop. So if an art application that you use on a desktop has a mobile version, there should be no reason for art made in the mobile version to be regarded as lesser in any way.
One of the most common mobile apps for digital art right now is Procreate, which can be purchased for Apple iPads. It’s definitely best suited for beginner artists as it’s lacking plenty of professional features like vectorization. But it lets artists of any skill level experiment with brushes and other tools.
But beyond Procreate, there are some actual professional applications. One of these is AutoDesk Sketchbook. This is commonly used by designers rather than artists. It can generate technical drawings – but we’re getting closer to professional art in a mobile app.
An application like Affinity Designer is a truly professional mobile experience. It lets you take projects between the desktop and mobile version, without sacrificing features. With features like unlimited layers, artboards, keyboard shortcuts, and tools aimed at advanced artists, this is the kind of app a professional would use when on the go.
Using Mobile Apps for Professional Jobs
There are many jobs that can be done from just a mobile app. Here are a few examples.
- Concept artist: Concept art generally takes the form of drafts or speed-draws, so can be done more easily in a mobile app, even if that mobile app is less precise or feature-rich than other digital art mediums. This job can cover movies, video games, and other entertainment mediums.
- Digital matte painter: Matte painters are the professionals that paint photo-realistic environments used in the backgrounds of movies. Digital matte painting often looks too realistic so matte painters may also use photo manipulation and 3D skills to produce a good image.
- Anything people will pay you for: Good artists don’t need to be limited. With enough skill and practice, you can use a mobile app to create art for movies, games, software, and more. There are many types of projects that will require different needs. Plenty of projects can be accomplished on a mobile device.
The Final Verdict
At least in my opinion, I believe that professional art can be created on mobile apps. I’ve come to this conclusion for a few reasons.
Firstly, the difference between professional and amateur is only a matter of how the artist treats their work. If an artist relies on an income from the art they make in mobile apps and can live off of this, then they’re a professional.
Secondly, many applications for tablets now have advanced features that rival desktop versions of apps. A lot of work can be done in a less flexible mobile app but then finalized through finishing touches and vectorization in a desktop version. But plenty of finished work can be done only within a single mobile application. The world is moving to a mobile-centric workflow for so many things, so why not art?
So yes, you can make professional art with mobile apps. It’s not the medium that makes the artist, it’s the result.