Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 15:42 UK

Gibbons backs digital art contest

Dave Gibbons
Dave Gibbons is best known for his work on the Watchmen comic

Acclaimed comic book artist Dave Gibbons is giving his support to a competition for electronic artists.

The Digital Artist 2009 competition is broken into 13 categories, including graphic design, animation, and videogame arts.

There are also five "Rising Star" awards for artists under 25 years old.

Prize details have yet to be announced but will include cash prizes, hardware and software as well as an opportunity to showcase the winning work.

Entries to the competition, which runs until 31 August 2009, have to be submitted through a website which will also include news and debates about digital arts.

There will be a range of digital art master classes across the UK, with leading practitioners - including Gibbons - offering beginners and more experienced digital artists an opportunity to learn from the experts.

Gibbons, who has been using computers in his own work for more than 15 years, helped launch the competition at a London art gallery, expressed his support for the current generation of digital artists, saying he is astounded at the work they are creating.

"We used to say that the the unfortunate thing was that the people who knew how to use the technology weren't artists and the artists didn't know how to use technology", he told the BBC.

"But over the years that's changed. The people working in graphics now aren't from the previous age of man - like I am - they're people who have always used computers."

Future shock

He sees clear benefits to this, especially for the comic art for which he is best known, since "there are lots of things you do in comics the old way that, if you do them the new way, become more pleasurable, cheaper and quicker".

And he is not concerned that the use of digital technologies results in art work that is somehow less expressive than those created without computers.

"Maybe 10 years ago computer generated art work did look like computer generated art work", he said, but that was no longer the case.

Referring to the work exhibited at the competition's opening event he said: "I challenge anyone to know that it was done on a computer.

Dave Gibbons
Gibbons' comic - Watchmen - made its film debut in March 2009

He said: "I think the way that people are intelligently combining real world materials and techniques, scanning them into the computer, treating them in the computer, and adding graphic elements in the computer means that the computer is becoming just another art tool and a means of expression rather than something that imposes its character on the work."

Digital Artist 2009 is supported by chip maker Intel and Future, the UK magazine publisher of titles for the digital creative community including Computer Arts, 3D World and ImagineFX.

An exhibition of some of the submissions is at the Galleria gallery, Pall Mall, London until 8 April 2009

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