Ric Holland's Blog

About – Art of

Wa is the Japanese word for Harmony – The Art of Wa

Wacom is the world leader in providing pen/tablet technology. 

The Art of Making Marks is a coffee table book soon to be published through IdN Publishers.

This blog is mainly a compilation of conversations I have had with people who I believe have made significant contributions to the development of the many amazingly creative fields of digital media, design and entertainment as well as innovations in the fields of medicine, information and communication technology. So ultimately this is about all computer users who have found a better, more intuitive way to work.

I hope to see my blog artofwa gather and grow to ultimately represent a global and definitive body of knowledge; past to the present and future visions of expressive digital mark making with the evolution of human interaction technology to be published as my PhD Thesis in a couple more years down the track.

The Art of Making Marks - Wacom book introduction


A global explosion in the production and consumption of digital music, photos, interactive games and video content has immersed us in our digital lifestyles.


Amongst a host of digital devices such as mobile phones, MP3 players, digital cameras and computers of all shapes and sizes, sits a device called the Wacom pen/tablet. This humble digital tool enables millions of people all around the world to write, draw, paint, create and interact with their computers creatively and intuitively. This book endeavors to showcases some of the world’s foremost digital pioneers and creative innovators who use this digital tool to make their expressive marks. It will inform you about the history of digital mark making and provide some useful insights and inspiration through a close up and personal perspective from people who love what they do. Whether or not you are a creative professional, a dedicated enthusiast, a student or you have never even heard of such a thing as a Wacom pressure sensitive pen/tablet this book opens the doors to a creative professional’s best-kept secret. For example why can someone get such a better result retouching a photo in Adobe Photoshop by using a pen/tablet instead of a mouse?


My name is Ric Holland and firstly I would like to welcome you to The Art of Making Marks, a book I decided to create partly due to the absence of one like it. Without the help of my friends John Derry (co-author of Painter), Laurence Ng (publisher IdN Magazine) and David Spencer (my boss at Wacom Australia), plus many other friends, colleagues and peers who are named throughout this book it would not have been possible to create. With their stories I have gathered together a comprehensive history from the early introduction of Wacom pen/tablets with what was then called high-end digital graphics systems like the Qantel PaintBox, the introduction of PC based image manipulation software, to the present state of play and then to some future visions that help us define a digital landscape and ecosystem for human interaction with expressive mark making digital tools created by Wacom and its many software and hardware partners.


Although I have worked for the past two and a half years at Wacom I have spent many more years working as an artist/illustrator, graphic designer, art director and creative director using Wacom pen/tablets along with a host of other technologies. I was traditionally trained in art and graphic design in the late 70s and then as the tide of digital technologies rolled in through the 80s and 90s I just kept soaking it all up and pushed the technology to achieve the results that fuelled further innovations by the new millennium. I ran my own design business Extreme Digital through most of the 80s and 90s then moved on to a software developer called MetaCreations Corporation and then finally to become the creative director at IBM’s eBusiness Innovation Centre before the Dot Com bubble burst. Since then I’ve continued to enjoy a rich and diverse career in digital media consulting and teaching. Drawing and painting is still in my blood and so working at Wacom has been satisfying my desire to get back to those roots by meeting people who inspire me such as Ron Cobb and Nick Pill. The Art of Making Marks is actually the title of my PhD Thesis which will map the Human and Computer interface from the 80s to the present and I hope to complete in the next couple of years, this book has only taken a couple of years so what do I have to loose other than some more sleep?


Please visit my blog if you would like to comment, contribute or just watch my progress from afar but please wish me luck just the same. My intention is to delve even deeper into the concept of expressive mark making, starting from the early cave paintings and progressing through time to show how expressive mark making techniques has evolved with the way humans communicate and illustrate concepts. I will document the refinement of various tools to capture expressive hand motions from people with highly developed motor skills and how that has then been translated into the digital tools of today. I pose the question have we reached the point where it’s just as natural to be expressive with digital tools as it is with physical tools?  My goal with this particular book The Art of Making Marks is to lay down some foundations on which you can draw your own conclusions, opening up your senses to the many possibilities.


The Art of Making Marks is a compilation of conversations I have had with Industry Pioneers – people who I believe have made significant contributions to the development of technologies forming the digital media industry of today. It’s a journey with pioneers like John Derry, Mark Zimmer and Tom Hedge who developed Fractal Design Painter, Russell Brown the Creative Director of Adobe since it’s early beginnings, Bill Buxton who pioneered the concept of multi-touch user interfaces and was chief scientist at Alias and now with Microsoft and involved in exciting new developments known Surface technology, Duncan Brinsmead who developed brushes in Maya and continues to push creative boundaries in CG for the benefit of movie audiences around the globe. I have interview Creative Innovators from around the world each being a representative of their chosen field of design and then we showcase the works of many digital artists and designers from different parts of the world and cultural backgrounds.

Wacom tablets for me have been the link between man and machine for many different creative disciplines.

Wacom World

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The chart illustrates the creative professional ‘world’ I talk of and although much of the content in this book comes from top professionals in their fields I would like to point out that creativity is for everyone and a Wacom tablet is just a device to help break down any creative barriers to self expression, letting loose the primal human urge to ‘make ones mark’ while expressing emotion, communicating ideas or just as often as not to have fun. Don’t take my word for it just read on and let these stories inspire you to pursue your own dreams and thus develop your own creative style.    [s1] 

 [s1]Timeline update will follow later, in an separate document