The way of “doing” Art has changed, although its definition is still valid: “That activity in which man recreates, with an aesthetic purpose, an aspect of reality or a feeling in beautiful forms using matter, the image or the sound. Until the irruption in the artistic world of the use of different devices, the human being understood the creative process as one that confronted the artist with his work in a tangible, material way… Brushes and palettes were part of the material used by painters . Chisels, maces, hammers or pointers were scattered around the sculptors’ workshops. Drawing pencils, markers, markers or squares and set squares were found on the tables used by the architects for the design of their projects.
Currently, new creative projects have almost turned their backs on these old tools and have incorporated countless digital techniques developed, yes, from manual tools, but which now allow extraordinary effects to be created. New forms of creation that adapt to a new way of consuming culture in today’s society. And what do they make of smartphonewebcams, tablets or computers the support that hosts the programs and the operating system and allow access to the platforms to develop the works.
Aware that the future of Art lies in the digital, Spanish universities strive to update their university studies by offering degrees in Digital Art or in Design, Animation and Digital Art. A training that is halfway between the world of art and technology and that allows its students to become a professional in the world of animation, video games and graphic design. Among the universities that offer the degree in Digital Arts is La Salle Campus Barcelona-URL, which implemented this degree in the 2019-2020 academic year within the framework of a campus that has extensive experience in university education linked to technology. Xavi Bové, director of this degree, points out that this program “arrived to reinforce the knowledge and transversal ecosystem of La Salle-URL, where we currently have six other areas of knowledge that interact and work on common projects: Architecture, Management, Engineering, Informatics, Health Engineering and Philosophy. In this way, a broad-spectrum view of the needs of contemporary and future society is formed”. The studios have nearly a hundred students and this summer the first promotion of digital artists from La Salle-URL will graduate, who are currently preparing their final degree projects (TFG) in digital format. artbooksimmersive experiences, comic webtoon and interactive installations.
new century mirror
Xavi Bové considers that this degree “could be labeled as the Fine Arts of the 21st century. But, ultimately, what makes it unique is that, based on the foundations of Fine Arts, digital tools are used to give the essential contemporary twist for the artists of the future. For example, drawing, painting and sculpture are worked with both analog and digital techniques, and illustration, design, 3D animation and augmented and virtual reality are incorporated”. In addition, the studies are complemented with more specific subjects through optional subjects, such as creative programming. In the opinion of the director of this degree, “it is essential to take a look at the past to draw the future, but, above all, we are concerned with encouraging critical thinking by creators. Whether it will be a brush, a digital pencil or a line of code the tool of our artists, they will decide for themselves throughout the studies”.
Madrid’s CEU San Pablo University also picks up the gauntlet of a new way of “creating” art and implements the degree in Digital Art for this 2022-2023 academic year. Its director, Rodrigo García Carmona, explains: “Although at the CEU we already have several years of experience in related degrees, such as a higher cycle of FP and professional master’s degrees, it has been now that we have launched ourselves to create this degree, which we believe responds to a clear training need that is still not well covered in the Spanish university system”. In the case of this university, the director of the Digital Art degree highlights: “The Digital Art degree is the brother of another, Technology Engineering for Animation and Videogames, which also begins next year. They are the most artistic and the most technical side, respectively, of the same coin. In fact, we also offer a double degree that combines both and can be completed in five years”.
Although CEU San Pablo fits the degree in Digital Art within the area of Art and Humanities, “in its study plan there are subjects dedicated to programming (although in a less intense way than in engineering) and the management of applications software and technological tools”, explains Rodrigo García Carmona.
The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech is another of the universities that offers the degree in Design, Animation and Digital Art (GDAAD) and has been doing so since the 2017-2018 academic year. Its coordinator, Josep Torelló Oliver, PhD, says: “The degree is the only one at UPC in the Arts and Humanities branch of knowledge and its objective is to train digital artists who work in the digital creative industry (video games, animation, multimedia) ”. 50% of the students who opt for these studies come from the artistic baccalaureate, “the rest is divided between students who have completed the scientific-technical baccalaureate and those who come from the Humanities and Social Sciences. So the majority profile of the students is artistic, and although it is not necessary for it to be this type of profile, it is recommended”, comments Josep Torelló Oliver.
A discipline with multiple job opportunities
The link between students who choose to study the degree in Digital Art and the labor market is close and very fruitful. A statement that emerges from the yearbook The video game industry in Spain, 2020, which places our country in the top 10 worldwide by market size, with a turnover that already exceeds 1,700 million and that shows a year-on-year growth close to 20 %. Some figures that, of course, venture good synergies between business and university.
One circumstance, the collaboration between the university and companies or organizations, which, for example, is already happening with the degree in Digital Arts at La Salle Campus Barcelona-URL, where bridges have been created with different institutions, such as the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz ( Austria) and the Epic Foundation of La Fura dels Baus. “The employment options are multiple and are defined by three routes: the most artistic, oriented towards the creation of pieces, linked to art galleries, artistic residences, scholarships for creation, foundations and festivals; as a freelancer, practicing either in your own studio or working for others; or by contracting with a company”, says Xavi Bové.
In the case of the degree in Digital Art at the CEU San Pablo University, although they do not have feedback because it is a new creation, its director, Rodrigo García Carmona, comments: “We have former students who have completed our master’s degrees and higher cycle related to 3D, animation and videogames, and we observe a very high employability among these graduates”. The reality, he continues, “is that we live in a time when the market employs more artists than ever before in the history of mankind. All the content we consume (video games, movies, series, advertising, cartoons, web, mobile applications…) is largely the work of artists. But, yes, from artists who do not work with the chisel and the palette, but with ZBrush and Photoshop. And those are precisely the skills that companies demand, the use of those digital tools and a deep understanding of technology.” An opinion with which the head of the degree at La Salle Campus Barcelona-URL agrees, who states: “Currently profiles with artistic sensibilities and technological knowledge are in growing demand in all employment sectors, providing new perspectives and anticipating future opportunities.”