Industry insight A co-founder of widely respected art annual Spectrum, Cathy has
seen digital creativity come into its own in fantasy art…
When did you realise digital art tools would have a big impact?
Almost from the beginning. We went to the national launch of the Mac in 1984 and bought machines with a gigantic 8MB of RAM! It was the introduction of Photoshop and Painter that were the game changers: anything became possible at that point. The addition of quality desktop scanners opened further opportunities.
Did you ever see it as a face-off between digital and traditional?
As commercial artists we just saw it as another tool in our workshop. Anyone who dismisses digital art or diminishes the abilities of those who create that way is foolish. The computer creates nothing: it takes the skill and intellect of an artist to create.
What are the best and worst things to have happened thanks to artists sharing work digitally?
The best, perhaps, is the growth of the audience for all manner of fantastic art and the growing opportunities to interact and network with their clients, fans, and peers. The worst is a general devaluing of artistic skill and art in general: the internet has fomented a culture of something-for-nothing. Far too many want art, entertainment, information, whatever, for free without having to compensate the creator, much less respect their copyrights.
When you founded Spectrum in 1993, what did you expect?
We had no way of knowing what to expect. Spectrum could have easily been a one-and-done. But the art community got behind it and, 23 years later, Spectrum has the largest circulation of virtually any art annual – all thanks to the artists, art directors, and readers.
How much have women artists been able to advance over the previous 10 years?
There have always been women illustrators and gallery painters, but their accomplishments have often been overshadowed by their male peers for various reasons. As more women pursued careers in the arts it’s not surprising the number of women fantasy artists has increased. Successful art relies on imagination, skill, intellect and focus. Whether it’s created by a man or woman doesn’t really matter, as artists like Cynthia Shepherd and Karla Ortiz among others prove.
The latest edition of Spectrum, with cover art by French artist Bastien Lecouffe Deharme.