Young Romanian artists are using new technologies to break traditional barriers

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Luciana Grosu for Global Press Institute – WNN GlobalARTS

Romanian artist Cuiedan Alina

“I am a dreamer, and I guess I start to show it in my art,” Romanian artist Cuiedan Alina says. When it comes to making a living from art, they face the same old obstacles.“Internet makes age and gender differences fade. In front of the screen, no one cares if the person behind an online drawing is black or white, young or old.”– Oana Livia, mixed media artist Image: Courtesy of Angela Szabo

(WNN/GPI) Bucharest, ROMANIA, EASTERN EUROPE: Oana Livia, 26, is a mixed media artist. Livia, from Focsani, a city in eastern Romania, says she prefers to combine traditional and digital techniques to create her artwork.

To make her art, Livia first draws on paper, then retouches the pieces digitally. She says digital technology has improved her work.

“Working with programs such as Photoshop helps me escape the dictatorship of the tiny, wrongly drawn line,” she says.

She says she and many other artists are going digital. Why? 

“Because of the ‘undo’ option,” she says.

She says digital art also erases societal stereotypes when it comes to age, gender and race.

“Internet makes age and gender differences fade,” she says. “In front of the screen, no one cares if the person behind an online drawing is black or white, young or old or whatever,” she says. “The feeling the artist is able to communicate is all that matters. If your art has an identity, you have an identity.”

She says this wider and more accepting market online has enabled her to sell her work.

“I remember nostalgically the first 22 cents [USD (70 bani RON)] I gained by selling a print through DeviantArt.com,” she says, smiling.

She says she has had more sales since.

“I grew a lot from that moment on,” she says, laughing. “I sold another print – this time for 80 cents [USD (2.50 new lei RON)]!”

Still, Livia says that art doesn’t generate enough money, so she can’t advance her career beyond being an amateur artist.

“If I became a professional artist, I would no longer afford buying bread or – even worse – paying my Internet connection,” she says with a bitter smile.

So Livia has turned to computer science to earn a living.

“I studied computer science while writing literature,” she says, continuing to smile. “Now, I am completing my computer science Ph.D. while drawing a world full of color.”

She is pursuing her doctorate in France.

“However, my roots are still in Romania,” she says. “I love my country.”

Because of her other career, she says time can be an issue when it comes to creating her art.

“The most important obstacle is time,” she says.

But Livia says she is determined to keep working on her art.

“Whenever I create, I have a feeling of fulfillment at the end of the day,” she says. “It’s like the last 24 hours were a bit different.”

She says she looks forward to continuing to develop her skills.

“Many people told me I already have an artistic identity, but I feel like am not there yet,” she says.

Artists say that the digital art world offers them the freedom to share their work and express themselves. Far from abandoning traditional techniques and theories, they say that digital art is rather a mix of old and new. Still, young artists say they struggle to earn enough to make a living through art. As opportunities in galleries are rare for young artists in traditional galleries, the digital art world offers a promising space for them to display and market their work. But the ease of publishing work online raises the debate of standards and whether an art degree is necessary to be considered an artist. Artists also must rely on local leaders and consumers to support their passion, but they voice their commitment to art and optimism for the future.

Digital art is strictly defined as art created or altered through a computational process, according to 115 Digital Art Gallery. Some say the gallery, which opened in 2007, is considered among the first exclusively digital art galleries here, according to a local magazine. The first digital art festival here, Print Art Fest, took place in 2010,  according to a local news blog,  as Romanians continue to get more involved in the digital art movement.

Young artists say that the digital art world has afforded them the freedom to express themselves and share their work, which has helped them grow as artists.

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