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Artist and teacher Judith Moncrieff first coined the term. In the early 1990s, while an instructor at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Moncrieff invented and taught a new digital medium called "Tradigital". The school held a competition between Moncrieff's students, who used the medium to electronically combine everything from photographs of costumes to stills from videotapes of performing dancers. Moncrieff also referred to her business entity (formerly "Moncrieff Studios") as "Tradigital Imaging" around the same period.
Moncrieff was one of five founding members of the digital art collective called "Unique Editions". These five artists—Helen Golden, Bonny Lhotka, Dorothy Krause, Judith Moncrieff, and Karin Schminke—combined their expertise in traditional studio media and techniques with digital imaging to produce original fine art and editions. The artists met in June, 1994, at "Beyond the Digital Print", a workshop organized by Krause at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. The artists' varied backgrounds are evident in their mixed media approach to using the computer as an art-making tool. Although every image is conceived and executed at least in part on the computer, the range of work includes one of a kind paintings, collages, Polaroid and image transfers, monotypes and prints on such varied substrates as canvas, handmade paper, and embossed metal. Moncrieff used the term "Tradigital media" to describe this merging of traditional and digital tools and "tradigitalism" as a name for this emerging movement. Unique Editions also served as a research and public relations entity for exploring technologies and promoting digital art. The group forged links with hardware and software developers in an effort to provide feedback on their products from the artist's perspective. It served as a demonstration to the rest of the art world of the role of digital technologies in the artist's studio. Unique Editions became inactive in 1997; however, Golden and Moncrieff continued to work together under the name, "Tradigital Fine Art".
Independently in the early 1990s, artist Lisa Wray was developing the fine art style she calls "Renaissance of Metaphysical Imagery". Prototypes were made for each work from color copies, color photos or film negatives made in her graphic arts darkroom. In 1990, she visited the only two places in the country with proprietary computer systems capable of assembling her prototypes: Raphael Digital Transparencies in Houston Texas, and Dodge Color Laboratories in Washington D.C. The first two prototypes, Brew of Life and Fantasy, were assembled by Dodge Color Laboratories on a Superset machine that was first developed by the Department of Defense. The final art was archived on 1" magnetic tape, and then output as an 11x14” color film transparency. Lisa discovered Judith Montcrieff and her pioneering efforts with Unique Editions and Tradigital Fine Art, in the early 1990s, found the term, "Tradigital", and also used the term to describe her own work.
Other uses of the term
Since then, use of the term has greatly expanded to include other art forms.
In 2002, "tradigital" went mainstream when Jeffrey Katzenberg used the term tradigital animation to refer to the blending of computer animation with classical cell animation techniques, "a seamless blend of two-dimensional and three-dimensional animation techniques". He mentioned as examples such animation films as Toy Story, Antz, Shrek, Ice Age, and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. He believed that Walt Disney (a traditional art animator) would approve of the changes in the way cartoons are made today. Animation World Magazine describes tradigital television, and the impact of tradigital animation on pre- and post-production processes for television shows.
Tradigital printing is an experimental approach to printmaking with contemporary technology. In one form of tradigital printing, printmakers use computers to generate positives for UV photo transfer to plates and screens. In another form, digital print output incorporating silkscreen, relief or intaglio techniques is the focus. For example, the Josephine Press uses a process that combines the use of archival digital prints with traditional techniques such as intaglio, woodcuts, lithographs, and all of the other traditional printmaking methods. The process allows the artist to create a multi-color image without using a four-plate process. In addition to more efficient registration, the artist can work with collage and other mixed media works that can be scanned and reproduced in an archival manner. Tradigital printing greatly expands the possibilities of image-making while still producing an original hand pulled, limited edition, fine art print.
A recent Wall Street Journal article hailed tradigital creatives as the "voice of tomorrow", contrasting them with both "traditionalists" and "digitalists", and identifying several distinguishing characteristics of the new art/marketing medium: voices not eyeballs; experience not messages; community not communication; utility and solutions not cleverness; collaborative not silo thinkers.
- WordSpy entry for tradigital.
- Randy Gragg, "Art students get a crack at 'Nutcracker'," Portland Oregonian, October 25, 1995.
- Lisa Wray, Judith Montcrieff, Unique Editions and Tradigital Fine Art.
- William Zimmer, "ART;A Family and Its Gallery Click on the Future", The New York Times, February 18, 1996.
- Thomas Doherty, "Sense and Cinematography", The Boston Globe, Dec 12, 2004.
- Dave Kehr, "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron", The New York Times, May 24, 2002.
- John Canemaker, "SUMMER MOVIES; Flat Worlders Face the Horizon and See It's in 3-D", The New York Times, May 12, 2002.
- Jane Horwitz, Stallion vs. Iron Horse: A Galloping Good Tale, The Washington Post, May 24, 2002.
- Todd Leopold, "The 'Spirit' of a movie mogul", CNN, May 22, 2002.
- Nina Rehfeld, "Die Zukunft der Märchen", Die Welt, Dec. 1, 2002.
- Roger Moore, "The 'Spirit' of Jeffrey Katzenberg," The Orlando Sentinel, May 24, 2002.
- Sylvia Edwards, "Tradigital Television: Digital Tools and Saturday Morning", Animation World Magazine, Issue 6.01, April 2001.
- Josephine Press, Tradigital Printmaking.
- Manish Sinha, "Creativity in tradigital times", The Wall Street Journal, Aug 14 2008.