To Thine Own Self Be True
By Denise M. Gustavson
"Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and
the heart of man go together.”
—John Ruskin, British art critic,
author. The Two Paths Lecture
I had the opportunity a few weeks
ago to speak with a New York City artist, Tom Matt. We’d worked with him a
few years ago; one of several artists whose work has graced our cover.
He’s had various shows over the past few years and his collection of works
continues to grow. Earlier this year, he received a high-profile
acknowledgement of his artistry—his work appearing as a backdrop in one of
Bloomingdale’s window displays on the corner of 59th Street & 3rd
Avenue in Manhattan.
Tom Matt’s art is unique and revolves around
the city he loves—New York. The local newspaper of the day becomes his
canvas, his sketchings an inimitable perspective of various landmarks—the
Brooklyn Bridge to Grand Central Station, a simple brownstone to the
Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
Several years ago, in search of a way to
give his art more permanence and longevity, a friend and fellow artist had
mentioned something about digital printing. He investigated the tip and
one thing lead to another. Matt contacted Don Dressler, president of
Glastonbury Design, a printer based in Glastonbury, CT, and has been
creating limited editions of his prints since then.
But, have you
ever thought about what really makes art “art”?
With the influx of
digital technology capable of reproducing artistic masterpieces, some in
the art world have begun to ask that very question. Is digitally created
art different, or less “art”, than something created in a more traditional
According to Matt, there are many differing opinions about
traditional versus modern processes, and many artists consider it unfair
to judge the art based on the process by which it was created. Artists use
the tools that are available to them to create the art. That concept in
itself is nothing new. Artists for centuries have used whatever tools were
available to them to create their works. “It’s the art itself,” Matt says.
“The process doesn’t make it better. The art has to be good.”
some instances, the use of digital technology by some museums and art
institutes seems to indicate a certain acceptance of it; endorsing its
In a 2002 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project,
Getting Serious Online, it reported that the public’s increasing use and
reliance on the Internet as a practical tool has also changed the way
museums and libraries interact with their communities.
a 2002 report by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, 87
percent of museums use at least some form of information technology to
document and preserve virtually all types of artistic mediums, including
paintings, textiles, photographs, porcelain and pottery, sculptures, and
For instance, at the National Gallery of London,
masterpieces by van Gogh, da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Monet have been
restored and catalogued using HP technologies. This same technology has
also allowed the gallery to provide prints of its collection “on demand”
to museum patrons through a kiosk.
For Matt, his art spans both
worlds—created by traditional means, but preserved by the digital. For
him, and because of the nature of his canvas, digital technology is the
only way his art has any kind of physical longevity.
So when is art
not “art”? What constitutes something as art? Is it the process through
which it was created, or is it something else that is much more
intangible? It’s an interesting question that, I’m sure, will not be
easily resolved. For many wide-format print providers, an increasing
number of their clients are fine artists—especially as more and more of
them realize the value of this new tool at their disposal.
about Tom Matt, drop by his website: www. tommatt.com.
Denise M. Gustavson
Denise Gustavson has been a part of our team since
1998. She parleys her technical savvy and industry contacts into
feature articles that keep readers abreast of cutting edge advances
in the wide-format printing industry. Gustavson also provides
readers with thought provoking observations by closing out each
issue with her column Full Circle.