Joan Myerson Shrager

Describe your field. Why are you interested in Computer Art/ Computer Graphics and what (event, need, idea, hope, obstacle) caused your involvement? Summarize your line of development (the essence of your input to the field) in relation to concurrent technology.

I am a professional artist and have been very active in the arts communit of Philadelphia. From 1994 to 2004 I was director of an artist-run cooperative gallery.

I am not a technological expect, rather I am an artist who has mastered the reguisite technical skills to use the mouse and stylus as my brush, the software as my palette and the monitor as my canvas.

Artistically, I have always experimented using a variety of art materials, often mixing them in unconventional ways eg. acrylics with charcoal with crayons, scraping, pouring, scratching etc. I am known as a colorist and received awards for my use of color.

I got a computer in 1993 and began to fool around with the simple paint program that came with it. Graduating to Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, using Wacom Tablet and Stylus my paintings are created exclusively on the computer. I also use a scanner for photos incorporated into the work. Additionally my equipment includes a digital camera and 2 printers, one a wide format.

Ultimate accomplishment:

My ultimate accomplishment so far has been an exhibition of 13 digital paintings now on display and in the permanent collection of the University of Pennsylvania. I combined scanned vintage photos and artifacts with original freehand drawing and painting. This exhibition can be seen at

The joy of working on the computer for an artist:

The computer affords an oppurtunity to experiment continuously. I constantly duplicate images and try different filters, colors, shapes etc. Using layers allows positioning to the best advantage. Lining up images on my wide LCD screen gives me the opportunity to decide which digital painting really works. Also I am able to move or remove layers, eliminating overworking an area. It really beats painting over an area especially when using acrylics. The criterion for my digital art is always the same as for conventional paintings. The art has to be "painterly." Technique must not overpower the composition and use of color.

The problems:

Equipment is improving. Software is getting better every upgrade, but the art world is behind the times. Resistance to digital art is great, somewhat like the reaction to impressionists by the established art world. It is always hard to explain digital art to conventional galleries. most are not set up to view CD's so they still require slides.

It would be great to email images but most galleries do not accept them. Most "call for artists" competitions limit entrees to prints of conventional work and exclude computer created paintings.

What I wish:

My wishes are for clarification of the definition of digital artists. Often artists describe themselves as digital artists simply because they use inkjet printers to make copies of their work. Also, I wish that galleries were sophisticated enough to acknowledge that the porcess is yet another medium. Finally, I wish exhibition opportunities would change to accommodate artists with websites. Galleries could view websites and actually choose work to exhibit. As a professional artists working every day, I would love to have a galleryowner "visit" my studio via the internet, but galleries have not yet made use of this technique. It would open up the art "industry."

A pioneer:

I consider myself a pioneer in my art environment. I will be included in a Harcourt Press text as an example of a digital artist. I am also included on the Museum of Computer Art website at I have also been recommended as a digital artist to study for teaching purposes on a website for art teachers at

The MOCA website is a very valuable resource for digital artists. MOCA, Museum of Computer Art, was awarded museum top-level domain (TLD) status by the Museum Domain Management Association (MuseDoma) in 2002. It is registered under ICANN authority and hosted on the Web at


Does the computer allow you to think visually about some topic or process in new ways? How has this influenced your work? Describe your ultimate accomplishment.


Has the field of computer art and graphics progressed in the ways that you expected? What has surprised you? What do you like about its progress and what do you wish had happened differently? What do you think the future holds for visual computing in science/art? Please make some predictions or wish lists for the near- and long-term future.


Describe your dream environment for enhancing your project ideas. What are your preferred tools for creating and how do they work? What tools (hardware/software) you have used initially had the strongest impact on your work?


Describe how you think specific advancements in technology, (such as wireframe, hidden line removal, scanner, laser, HTML, Java applets, or any other advancement), determined the way the approaches to creating art/graphics evolved?
How would you characterize the milestones (every ten years) in the development of computer technology? Which ones were most influential in art/graphics?
Which persons would you indicate as the pioneers in the particular areas/stages in which decade?