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Is Digital Art Catching Up With Traditional Processes - Q and A with Martin Boit, CEO of Wacom Europe

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Wacom's graphics tablets have held a place of honour on creatives' wish lists for many years. Beautifully designed and carrying cutting edge technology these lasting pieces of engineering have become an integral part of the photographic, image editing, film and design industries.

Besides securing the company's unwavering position as the clear market leader, the meticulous attention to detail and advanced technology, have actually helped narrow the gap between digital creativity and the traditional domain.

We ask Wacom's President and CEO, Martin Boit to shed light on the company's undiminishing quest for excellence and the key to its strong hold over the pen/graphics tablet market.

Q To what do you/Wacom attribute the company's ongoing prominence in the market?

A We feel that our drive to innovate and develop has led us to be the market leader and the global pioneer in pen technology. The pen input is Wacom's heritage and we develop our products with our talented team as well as with help from our customers.

Our market research and close customer relationships are vital in helping us develop our new products as well as conquer new business segments. Wacom will continue looking for opportunities to develop any type of product, which could make computers or digital devices more intuitive and natural. Besides focusing on our core markets and being the industry leader in graphics tablets and interactive pen displays, we have also successfully positioned the Bamboo Stylus range as the input device for all touchscreens recently.

Q With faster, more powerful computers, greater processing power and the latest technology seen in the Cintiq 24HD touch, are artists getting closer to recreating the none digital creative process?

A We have invested heavily in replicating traditional design methods digitally as this is what our customers want. Wacom has developed products and software that work directly on screen, in the same way as paper. Through innovation the pens now feel as natural and intuitive as the real thing, providing precision for the user. The touch also provides intuitive navigation including zoom, scroll and switch.

Q Does Wacom still hold a close relationship with software providers such as Adobe and Corel (Painter)?

A Wacom has a very close relationship with a lot of software providers such as Adobe, Corel, Autodesk and Daussault to name just a few. The partnership has been built up over the years and we work really closely together. In order to provide the best solutions for users it is imperative that the professional software and hardware mutually enrich each other. This relationship works both ways, we develop to suit the software and vice versa. For example the Artist Airbrushes in Photoshop CS were developed for Wacom tablets, recognising the characteristics such as rotation or tilt of the tools such as the Airbrush pen. It is of course crucial that the high end Wacom products benefit from all functions included in professional software.

Q Bamboo Manga is very interesting. As is the case with Painter, you have combined your hardware with dedicated software. It is still very new on the market but from what you have seen so far, how was this received?

A We have just launched the special edition Bamboo Manga, however the initial reaction has been very positive, both from the channel and users. Manga has already become an inspiring and generally accepted art form. Drawing Manga is now more and more popular amongst professionals and young people that are fascinated by Japanese pop culture. We've identified the Manga market as a very creative field with an enthusiastic community, perfect for Wacom to get involved with. We already participate in several Manga conventions, we also hosted a very successful Manga Facebook Challenge that we had an overwhelming response to. We knew that there would be a good market for a special edition tablet and we definitely can expect the new tablet to be a huge success.

Q Wacom tablets are used to create the cream of design, movies, image retouching and music videos.. where can people see a showcases of work produced using Wacom tablets?

A Many people have expressed interest in seeing more examples of what you can do with our products. The current Pioneers of Now campaign (www.wacom.eu/pioneersofnow), showing the work of five outstanding artists designed with the Cintiq, is just a first step. But we are already intensively working on a concept where these fantastic artworks made with the help of Wacom tools can be presented.

Q Can you tell us more about Multi Touch as in the the Cintiq 24HD touch?

A We first used Multi Touch functionality in our second generation of Bamboo pen tablet, offering intuitive navigation. Following the success of this we adopted it to other products such as the new Intuos5 range and Cintiq24 HD Touch.

Multi Touch is becoming more and more important, due to current interfaces such as IOS and Android devices as well as Windows 8 on the desktop. Additionally more and more professional software such as Sketchbook Pro 6 or Painter 12.2 support Multi Touch (videos can be found here: http://www.wacom.eu/index2.asp?pid=7017&spid=1&lang=en)

So it comes without saying that we as the market leader in the graphic field include Multi Touch functionality as well. By combining touch and pen input we deliver the best solution possible to our users.

Q A graphics tablet remains an object of desire for many. Are we likely to see more affordable professional tablet?(particularly Cintiq technology) in future?

A Wacom stands for high quality products and innovations and this is the direction we will continue in. Users can expect to see a lot of new and innovating products in the near future, entering new markets. A key market for Wacom in 2013 will be the high-end professional sector as well as the consumer sector where we look to make products that have a wider appeal. Especially in the consumer sector you can expect some interesting new offerings.

Q What is your personal opinion of the vast changes affecting the industry at the moment? from trade magazines shutting down to none pros competing with professionals for work..

A We don't view these changes negatively as consumers now digest news digitally so it makes sense for content to move online.

On the one hand, it means that our target group is growing rapidly as more people are interested in digital arts and imaging. However, we think of them more as enthusiasts than none pros, as although they don't do it for a living, they still deliver work to a very professional standard and are of course asking for tools to support them. That also means that we need to develop products to fit the needs of non-professionals even better..on the other hand this also affects our channel and communication strategy, the online world becomes more and more important to us, hence we increase and refocus our presence and visibility there.