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Photoshop: The ‘To Be or Not To Be’ of Art

I suppose the alternative title of this article would be, ‘Can photoshopping people be considered an art?’, but it does not have the same dramatic flair that comes with using a Shakespearian title, does it? Seriously though, should photoshopping people be considered art? 

Well, since I am not a qualified art connoisseur, I cannot give a definitive answer, so I will instead share my thoughts and opinion.

Would you consider comparing a plastic surgeon to a sculptor even though professionals from both professions would be able to construct facial features? Would you consider a DJ, that does not produce their own tracks, to be a musician? Even if they may not play any instruments or write their own compositions? Shady stuff man…literally. These questions are all different shades of grey, because the answers are complex, subjective and completely up to you - or a professional - to decide on. That being said, this does not mean that any of the “grey area” professions are any more or less talented and skilled from others. Their versions or uses of such skills are just different.


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To do digital art or to DJ you still need to be both artistically and musically inclined and have the eye, ear and touch to create something full of life and that moves people. It is still, in my books, a talent and a skill. With regards to photoshopping, it was created to be a useful tool to designers, online digital developers, graphic designers, photographers, and creative personas. ‘Tool’ being the operative word. I would not refer to a “photoshopper” as an artist, I would call them an editor of some sort. However, an artist using photoshop to enhance their creationsounds legit to me. Which brings me to my next and final point; the manner in which photoshop is used should be a defining point of discussion.

When photoshop is being used as a tool that aids in the making of a digital creation, I without a doubt, accept it as a tool of art. However, due to its accessibility nowadays, anybody to everybody can use it. Although, along with enhancing the quality of their pictures, some may feel the need to “perfect” and “correct” themselves and completely change their looks. Therefore, with social media being such a large and growing  platform, I can’t help but see photoshop more as a tool that aids in creating/solidifying inauthentic beauty and body standards instead. Khloe Kardashian’s recent photoshop failure is a testament to this.


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A recent episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians showed Khloe Kardashian as she was which happened to be a stark difference from the photo she uploaded on her Instagram account. Fans were quick to pick this up and display a still from the reality show next to the posted picture, commenting on how the star took photoshopping to another level. What also caught my eye, was the amount of hate she got for this. Yes, I agree she used photoshop to change a lot of her features, however, if I was being called the “ugliest Kardashian in the family”, I may also feel an urge to “rectify” how I look.

It all boils down to how we as a society operate. If people were allowed to feel confident as their authentic self, then maybe photoshop wouldn’t be used on people at all. Which is why I think that photoshopping people is not an art, but a means of feeding into some unhealthy mindsets. What do you think?

Final year UCT student, studying towards a Bachelors of Arts Degree. Majoring in: English, Language and Literature; Film & Television as well as Media & Editing.
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