Technology Collides with Art at Southeast


Photo of a Graphic Design student using a PowerMac computer

A Southeast graphic design student uses Adobe Photoshop on a high-powered Apple computer to edit photography for a design layout assignment.(View larger image of the Graphic Design Lab)


Aug. 28, 2006 – Although the opening of Southeast Missouri State University’s new River Campus is still a year away, students and faculty in Southeast’s Department of Art aren’t waiting to incorporate the latest technology into their work.

Art, once thought of as an exclusively hands-on endeavor, now is being revolutionized as state-of-the-art technology changes forever the way students approach each project as well as the amount of time an artist spends in preparation for each project. New technologies allow artists to spend more time in the creative process and less time preparing for it. In addition, images can be manipulated and conformed to the artist’s specific tastes in a heretofore truly unprecedented way. In the art studios of Southeast Missouri State University, the situation for artists is the same. Faculty and students are able to employ technology into their work and thus change not only the creative process, but also the output of their labors.

At Southeast Missouri State University, technological advancements have changed the life of the student artist. Students are able to use computers in the art laboratory that offer such software as Photoshop, Illustrator, GoLive, InDesign, NewTek LightWave and Final Cut Pro. Each station in the lab contains two large monitors, a scanner and a Wacom Digital Pad. The studios also contains three laser printers. Each teaching station gives the instructor access to an overhead digital projection system that allows him to give demonstrations to an entire class. All of these cutting edge advancements are a great aid to those studying graphic design, illustration, typography and Web design, as well as three-dimensional imaging and animation. Digital photography also allows the Department to document the progress of student work and has changed the way in which artwork is displayed in exhibitions and in applications to graduate programs.

Adam Hauck, a senior art major from St. Louis, views technology as an important tool to stretch the creative process.

“In my experience, technology is hugely beneficial in terms of artistic expression,” said Hauck, who is studying three-dimensional computer imaging and animation. “The tools used in creating artwork are no longer limited to those bought at the local art supply store. The computer, mouse and graphics tablet are all becoming necessary in keeping up with the times. That’s not to say the old tools should be cast aside,” he cautioned. “They are just as important. In working with complex programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, the artist still needs to know fundamentals like drawing, color theory and composition, but artists must come up with new media to develop their work, and what better way to do it than with a computer?”

Amanda Otte, a senior graphic design major from Cape Girardeau, feels the latest technology enhances her creative process, allowing her to implement any idea she comes up with.    

“I have noticed a big change in the creative process of graphic design thanks to technology,” she said. “Of course, I still start by scribbling out all my ideas before I ever get on the computer. But once I have my idea, no matter what it is, I know I will be able to pull it off.”

As a case in point, Otte mentioned using computer technology to manipulate a logo she designed, again using computer technology, to appear as if it was actually on various products.

The printmaking studio in the Department of Art also has been positively affected by recent technological advancements. Students are able to take digital photographs and manipulate the image, overlay the image with lithographs, screen prints or intaglio prints or even transform the image into a lithography image using computer technology.

Perhaps one of the most labor-saving innovations has occurred in the technology of weaving. What formerly took years to develop, mainly the weaving samples used to test weave structure designs, now takes only hours as the designing and testing is now achieved via computer program. This does not mean, however, that Southeast students have lost the skill of hand-weaving. On the contrary, students are first required to learn to weave by hand in the mechanical room before being allowed to design, test and develop structures on the WeaveMaker computer program. Students are able, therefore, to craft designs for the textile industry that are completely computer driven.

Lindsey Baker, a Southeast graduate who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in fibers, is enthusiastic about the impact of technology on her field.

“The textiles market has drastically moved toward computerized design,” Baker said. “It is exciting to see the integration of my creative abilities with the overwhelming possibilities of technology.” 

Baker, a native of Scott City, Mo., is now furthering her education in Philadelphia University’s prestigious textile design graduate program.

The introduction of such a vast amount of technological innovation into the art studios and laboratories of Southeast Missouri State University means that students are able to manipulate each shape, line, color and design to exactly suit their particular desire. Art has therefore become a much more malleable form of expression for these students who are now able to formulate not just one answer to a design problem, but multiple ones. Technology has changed the study of art, not only at Southeast Missouri State, but throughout the world.

A Southeast art student uses the WeaveMaker computer program to develop and test a structure design which can then be woven on a loom.(View larger image of student using the WeaveMaker program)