Student artist profile: exploring an expanding world of digital art

Emma Roberts draws her inspiration from the pop culture she loves

Image by: Ramna Safeer
A sketchbook full of Roberts’ drawings. Many of them are of her favourite characters from television shows and video games.

You’ll most often find Emma Roberts, ArtSci ’18, doodling her favourite video game characters in the margins of her geography notes.

With a deep respect for traditional art and an avid desire to explore new art forms, the second-year environmental sciences student says she’s excited to further develop herself and her art within the digital art world.

Roberts spends most of her downtime scribbling away on her tablet and exploring new textures and styles in Photoshop. She said she’s continuously motivated to create by other digital artists and the level of diversity in their art.

“I started drawing because of the artist Glen Keane, who animated The Little Mermaid and lot of those classic Disney movies,” she said.

“Artists like him make you realize how flexible digital art is, how creative it can be. There’s so much versatility once you enter that world.”

The majority of Roberts’ pieces draw inspiration from her program. Use of natural colour and exploration of light are examples of an embedded appreciation for science and how the world looks.

On the other hand, her art also draws heavily from pop culture, especially TV shows, movies and video games.

“I feel like digital art has its own niche world in the arts community right now because it caters really well to communities of fans that all share a love for something,” Roberts said.

“The thing I like most about digital art is that when you fall in love with something and become part of a community of fans, you can share your art so accessibly and it instantly becomes connected with that community.”

At the moment, Roberts is particularly interested in creating pieces inspired by the video game Until Dawn.

According to her, the characters in the game are multidimensional and develop organically rather than typically.

She said this organic feeling is the reason why people make art about video games, books, movies or anything else within popular culture: because they have a connection to what they’re drawing.

One of these pieces was inspired by the video game Zelda. The piece features Zelda redrawn in Roberts’ more realistic illustration style. She’s slim, hooded and shaded entirely in black and white.

Her eyes, which are a piercing blue, provide the only colour in the drawing.

Roberts actively rejects the notion that “fan art” — art created of or inspired by characters in popular culture — is an illegitimate art form.

“I think what people don’t understand is that it’s not just about the art itself. It’s actually about the fact that you’ve become part of something through that art,” she said.

“Art is for enjoyment, so if you enjoy the art you’re making or enjoy the art you’re seeing, nothing else matters! All art is valid. All art is good art.”

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