Illustrator Lisa Bardot on why iPad art is real art

iPad Pro
(Image credit: Apple/Lisa Bardot/Future)

Illustration on the iPad has come a long way since the tablet was first unveiled in 2010. Back then, you had to make do with drawing with your finger, or worse, a stylus. "Who wants a stylus?!" Steve Jobs famously exclaimed when launching the original iPad – but since the advent of the Apple Pencil and apps like Procreate, things have certainly changed.

Illustration artist Lisa Bardot is one of the leading figures of the Procreate and iPad art community, whose tutorials and art classes (including Making Art Everyday, which provides daily creative prompts) help aspiring digital artists across the world. We caught up with Lisa to chat about making art on the iPad ahead of the launch of her new Skillshare class, Easy, Eye-Catching Animations in Procreate (opens in new tab). And if you're inspired to get creating, take a look at our roundup of the best iPad Pro deals and Apple Pencil deals.

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How has the experience of making art on the iPad changed over the last few years? 

I started towards the end of 2013 with my first iPad. It’s changed so much since then. It didn’t occur to me that I could draw on it when I first got it, then I went to an art store with a stylus that looked like a paint brush. That prompted me to look up apps, then I found Procreate. 

My progression in my illustration skills wasn’t that quick. It wasn’t until the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil that my skills exploded because it was so natural, just like working on paper. There’s no disconnect. It’s rare that I even start with a piece of paper now. From sketch to finished art, I’m in Procreate.

What would you say to someone who's thinking of giving iPad art a try, but isn't sure where to start? 

I think the iPad is the perfect tool for getting started. If you have an iPad and Apple Pencil, Procreate is so easy to use and accessible that you can start off by doing really simple things like lines and shapes, and work your way towards more complicated things. And there are so many amazing resources out there to help teach people to do this – including me!

Is there a strong sense of community in the world of iPad illustration?

Definitely. I spend a lot of my time building community. A lot of what I do appeals to beginners. People who haven’t used Procreate or even drawn much but want to do something creative. 

I run a drawing challenge, now in its fifth year, called Making Art Everyday (opens in new tab). I have a drawing prompt for every day of the year, with a different theme every month. It helps people overcome those barriers where they don’t know what to draw – taking away the fear that comes with a blank piece of paper. I can create the look and get the same feeling of creative accomplishment on my iPad.

Do you ever encounter 'traditionalists' who look down digital art? 

There is sometimes attitude to digital art, that it doesn’t feel as “real” as physical art. But I think the iPad and digital art is just one tool in a long line of technology that has evolved over time to make art – from the early days of cave painting to sculpture, oil painting, photography (which was also initially looked down on) and digital art. And it’s a really amazing tool that lets you explore so many different mediums.

I explore physical types of mediums digitally. I’ve just released a strikingly realistic watercolour brush set. And block printing, stained glass, even baking and decorating cookies – these are all things we’ve done in Procreate, exploring real world textures in ways that would only be possible with a tool like the iPad.

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).