Digital Artist to Present on Painting in Photoshop

Is the above portrait fine art? If I told you it was painted – brushstroke by brushstroke – on Photoshop, would your answer change? Florida-based digital illustrator Andrew Theophilopoulos believes it shouldn’t. The classically trained, award-winning oil painter has made a career out of Photoshop. Not in editing photos, but going from a blank “canvas” to a finished product. The process and the techniques are identical to how he paints in oil; he just has an undo button.

Theophilopoulos will present at the event, “Finding the Future of Painting in Photoshop” at the Peninsula School of Art for their exhibit, Painting with Pixels. In addition to guiding the audience through his artistic process, he will lead a plein air session (outdoor painting session) with his tablet and stylus. Though painters are welcome to bring their own supplies, he will also present on the best painting apps downloadable to your smartphone or tablet.


Zach Jaeger (ZJ): When did you start using Photoshop?

Andrew Theophilopoulos (AT): The day I found Photoshop [was] in my computer lab as an eighth grader. I was able to put color down on top of my drawing and smudge it around…that was when I figured out how I wanted to create.


ZJ: You’ve done a great job of diversifying your portfolio. Has digital illustration enabled you to choose whatever client you want to work with?

AT: Absolutely. A lot of people do get stuck into a single thing. We [painters] notoriously hone in on a style of paint, whether that’s a still life or portraiture and try to make a career out of it…My portfolio is filled with all of the things that I wanted to do as a kid. One thing I never wanted to be was a one-trick pony.


ZJ: Is there a price barrier for getting into digital illustration?

AT: Art supplies are in a weird way a luxury. When you look at some of the more fantastical masters who have long passed away, they had a family of illustrative parents and tons of money for oil paint supplies. I never had any of that…Photoshop [allows you to] make all the paintings in the world that you want and never spend a dollar on supplies [while avoiding] the heartbreak of wasting supplies.

“Companion in the Woods.” (Bottom) Original composed on site on Photoshop. (Top) Oil painting reproduction done from JPEG of original file. Photo courtesy of Andrew Theophilopoulos.

ZJ: Appearing at the exhibit at Peninsula Art School are some Photoshop paintings you did, along with oil painting copies. One of the digital paintings is a landscape piece that you painted while outdoors. Can you tell me about how you’re planning to address the stigma that is associated with digital illustration at your event?

AT: What we’ll be talking about at the event is: is the digital format a legitimate, sincere output for an artist, or is there an entire industry wasting their time by creating something that the fine arts community may not respect? And so when I create a copy of a digital painting and it’s presented in oil, does that make it more legitimate? In an abstract sense, should we be deciding legitimacy based on an artist’s experience [of producing the piece of art]? So the question I have for you is: what is more sincere to you? Is it being in the woods painting life on a computer; or being in a garage, painting in oil from a JPEG of my time in the woods?


ZJ: Is your story a common one in the illustration industry? What is it like as a working artist?

AT: It’s very rare to have the opportunities that I’ve had as an illustrator. The industry is full of repetition, of people practicing…it really is oversaturated. It’s so hard to be a good painter and find work.


ZJ: How can an artist make themselves stand out in the industry?

AT: [What’s important] is becoming somebody who has skills and talents that a studio or franchise may want [and marketing yourself well]…Mingling, finding a way to be able to chat with directors, producers, getting your portfolio in there. It really is a business-minded industry.


Check out this video of Theophilopoulos’s work using Photoshop for the competitive online video game League of Legends for a look into his artistic process.


Theophilopoulos will be at the Peninsula Art School on Friday, July 7 from 1 to 5 pm. Cost of admission is $35. Registration is required and is available online at or by calling 920.868.3455. It is recommended that those who wish to use devices install the appropriate software prior to the event. Cell phone or tablet users should download Procreate or Sketchbook Pro, with tablets having the additional option of Infinite Painter software. Those owning laptops should use Photoshop. A limited number of iPads will also be available for use.


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