Thursday, December 2, 2010


Traditional Vs. Digital

I am old enough to have had several years of traditional work under my belt before the wide spread use and availability of digital work became commonplace. As an example, use the first 3 or 4 years of the Spectrum books, and take a look at the balance of traditional vs. digital work. I love both methods and would like to invite you all to express your thoughts on the matter in the comment section.

Oh, and of course I don’t actually want any real fighting...just polite discourse.


  1. photoshop is good

  2. photoshop is indifferent

  3. I never really care what medium is used; I just care about the image and concept. That being said, I tend to favor traditional approaches as they seem a bit more impressive when I see them in person. But on a printed page, both deserve a place.

  4. digital is fast but it don't have soul...

  5. I think both ways are good, since the new softwares are able to emulate the traditional look better every day. It all depends on what you can accomplish with whichever tool you use.

    True, traditional art has a different vibe to it most of the time, but if the results are good, the wayt it's done shouldn't matter. It's like saying that every watercolor is better than any oil painting just because it allows less corrections.

    (I hope I'm not saying anything stupid, I still struggle with english).

  6. The first thing that comes to mind is that in the digital realm there is no 'original'. I suppose you can print it on canvas, then delete the digital file, but somehow that doesn't seem the same to me.

  7. I feel like the medium is a means to an end. If you use a medium properly, the end product will show. The one difference I feel occurs in the use of the digital medium is that it allows people to take shortcuts more easily than traditional medium and if shortcuts are not controlled properly, they can lead to am image that is weaker than it should be. The same thing can occur in traditional mediums, but the temptation to say overlay a texture for a quick affect or blur tool something can go poorly if not controlled.
    One other thing is the obvious lack of a physical original work that opens secondary markets for artists when the medium is digital.

  8. i think both have it's advantages and disadvantages, it's like comparing oil and acrylic, it all comes down to the message that an artist wants to convey, no matter what medium or method he/she uses.

  9. I worked for a while in oils and was just starting to get a handle for the medium. But being new and inexperienced I wasn't able to handle drying times, breathing the fumes which led me to drop oils and unfortunately all mediums.
    Meaning to paint now and then in traditional mediums for more personal projects. Too bad thinking and doing are two different things and I ended up becoming so unfamiliar with traditional mediums that I'm having a very difficult time starting again. I've even bought oils, canvas and many other tools with the intent to start again but after 10 years of digital work I can't get myself to put paint to canvas! Part of the reason of that is that I almost want to relearn a better way to paint.
    I just need to grow a pair and paint!

    So I still think professionally digital is better but traditional is still a great way to improve and keep the love of what we do as artists.

  10. I like how digital facilitates experimentation -- I can try different colors, heck, different methods with a single grisaille . . .

    But it's my traditional background that I bring to my digital methods.

    I also like that pixels don't dry too fast or too slow.

  11. @jeffkunze, nowadays you can get oil paints that can be thinned using water instead of turpentine. They are only slightly more expensive than classical oil paints.

    I love both, trad. and digital mediums. I can't say which one is better because each has strengths and weaknesses. I usually do concept/preliminary sketches and line-art digitally and proceed with the final work traditionally.

  12. My thinking is it doesnt matter what medium you use because your knowledge and fundamentals should be transferable and applicable in the same way.

  13. Boy, I have thought about this for a while...

    Professionally, digital is better. Quicker, faster, and easier changes.

    But what is it about an image that gives it it's value? The image itself? Sure, but I feel there is more.

    If John Singer Sargent painted Madame X using PhotoShop- (work with me here)- would I have been stopped almost breathless looking up at that magnificent profile at the Met if it was just a high quality digital print?

    Maybe, but isn't part of the impact knowing that this IS Madame X. The one and only- painted by this gifted man's own hands, and if this canvas is destroyed, the world is diminished just a bit, because we cannot just hit "print" and replace her?

    I think digital art lacks something in terms of intrinsic value.

    One more thought... I work mostly in PhotoShop, and at one point was taking some Maya courses, and it struck me as I was "sculpting" this blob of digital clay, that I was missing the experience of sculpting.

    The mess on my clothes and under my fingernails, the smell, the cool feel of the clay in my hands. What I felt was keyboard and Wacom tablet... the very same thing I feel when I search the web, or paint in Photoshop, or write in Word, or everything else that's done on the computer.

    I think that means something, and its loss is a sad thing.

  14. Wow you really did it now Mr. Foster. I think this is larger than a kick sand in your face issue. I've always believed that choice of medium should be linked to personality and personal process. Sure many of us can use different mediums, including digital, to expedite a piece and even do a great job of it. But what would we choose, or to be metaphysical, what would choose us if we were doing this simply to create the best piece or experience the best journey. Of course the reality is that we need to get paid while the danger is we choose a medium simply to get paid. My biggest pet peeve is when we try to wrestle and wrangle a medium into speaking another mediums language, only poorly. There are those who feel that the most successful digital images are those that look most like a "real" painting. My favorite digital work is that which has its own unique voice. There is incredible work being done on the computer that doesn't need its proximity to real paint to justify its worth. I still remember the days of saying, "Wow, that was done on a computer? it looks just like an oil painting." But I can also still remember the days of saying, "Wow, that's a pencil drawing? It looks just like a photograph." The best of us have moved on to amplify the computer's voice and find incredible new directions for the medium. And because of that the worth traditional mediums increase as well.

    Sorry for being long winded. I guess I could have just said both are cool.

  15. One of the main distinctions I see (and your mention of the Spectrum book bears this out) is that when an artist has experience with traditional media, he brings his own skills and experience to bear and adapts them when he works digitally. On the other hand there are now legions of digital only artists that have shortcut the whole process and just rehash other peoples styles and techniques and even character design over and over. It's the age of sampling I suppose.

  16. Digital can easily slip into something slick, over-polished, airbrushed.

    But so can traditional. So both mediums will have a chance to shine in the hands of a skilled artist I guess.

    Oh but the feel of a loaded brush sweeping across the canvas, the glacier trails of impasto, the luminescence of glazes, the sweet smell of damar that gives you a migraine later, the paint on the clothes that cannot be washed, the abstract compositions of paint mixtures on the palette, the ritual of preparing the surface with gesso, the frustration, the disobedience of everything you touch, the patience, the time, the tragedy of getting it wrong, the catharsis of getting it right.

    Traditional feels like the battle of Normandy. Digital feels like casual re-enactment of it. A lot of the sensory experience is lost, and you know you'll be fine no matter what. You can press Ctrl-Z.

  17. I don't think which method you use is 'that' important. What is more important is understanding your medium and having a reason to use it.

    For instance a lot of what can be achieved by Digital can be created in traditional media and in the end you'd have a more tangible piece of physical art in your hands.
    But obviously digital work doesn't take up space, 'can' be cheaper, less messy, can be easily portable.

    But it is much easier to be lazy with digital media. One of the greatest things with digital media is the potential to never have to do the same thing twice. Both a time saver and a curse.
    Also I find easier to pick up habits that can often be detrimental to the artist expanding their understanding and the depth of their art.

    What the biggest issue I personally have with digital is the lack of history you have with the piece. If you make a mistake you can undo it, or erase it or paint over it. But the paint doesn't build up, it never 'has' to be permanent.

    With a traditional piece there will always be a tiny reminder of what has happened with the image, whether it's an irremovable smudge or a patch where you couldn't quite cover the colour or scrape the paint away.

    At the end of the day I think it's a personal thing, but you can usually tell by looking at a digital piece which artists you would trust to draw with a pencil and paper as well

  18. An interesting side effect of digital is that it can, in a way, have more history (history in a bit of a different sense than above) than it's analog cousin. When working digitally I often save multiple times during the creation process... that gives me the ability to go back in time and branch off in the history tree. Good thing? Bad thing? I suppose it depends on context and circumstance.

  19. As a collector, I have to support traditional! A print just doesn't give the same feeling as a collector. A good digital cover will often interest me in a bookstore just as much as traditional will though.

  20. Traditional media will always garner a greater respect simply because it is more time consuming and harder to reproduce. Because each piece is unique it has more value (at least to a consumer/patron).

    But that same thing that makes traditional painting more valuable to collectors/art aficionados is exactly what makes digital more useful in the workplace: it takes less time and is easy to reproduce and distribute. So digital work will almost always be thought of as less valuable.

    But as someone who works in digital art for a living it can be exceedingly frustrating when people drastically undervalue my work. I have even had people go so far as to claim that, I am "Not even a real artist." and that, "the program does too much for you." Which is both poorly informed and utterly insulting.

    And while traditional media can increase the value of a piece that is not to say that there are not digital pieces better than paintings. Because there are a great deal of bad paintings in the world, it would be myopic to say that a digital image could never surpass a painting simply because of its media. Still, I can't contest that an image rendered in pixels will be less impressive than the same image rendered in paint.

  21. To me, it's no different than a piano versus a keyboard.

    Pretty much everything you hear on the radio is created with a keyboard, and it does a wonderful job of mimicking natural sound. It's easier to use, more efficient, and does things a piano could never do.

    However, if you go to see a concert, you don't want to hear a keyboard, you want to hear a real piano.
    Up close and personal, there just isn't a substitute for -real- sound.

    The same applies to visual arts.

    Really, the difference comes down to intent.
    If your intent is commercial viability, I think digital art is just as valid as traditional art... maybe even more so.
    But if you want to make a true piece of art, something you want to hold in your hands and pass down for generations, traditional is the best choice.

  22. One thing I've noticed while working digitally is that I don't really put as much thought into what I'm doing as when working traditionally. For some reason it's as if my brain just turns off, and instead of really contemplating what the piece needs, I just do things in a random and haphazard way, hitting ctrl-z until I arrive at something that works by chance. I don't really learn anything during this process, and any solutions I stumble across are usually lost shortly thereafter. Working traditionally forces you to be cognizant of what you're doing, as fixing mistakes is a lot more work. I also find the absence of any real tactile feedback when working digitally to be a huge handicap. I obsess over paper textures, pencil hardness, brush quality, etc. all of which don't translate to the digital realm at all. I think the end results of both are equally valid, but personally I've always enjoyed the process much more than the finished piece anyway.

  23. Well...I work digital all day, every day, and I do enjoy it. However, I am in a constant state of unrest knowing that actual paint and canvas call to me from some distant place that I can't ever seem to get the time to visit.

    I recently visited the National Gallery (fantastic Arcimboldo exhibit BTW) and there's just nothing that compares to seeing an actual piece of physical, tactile artwork in front of you. Digital medium has proven itself, especially in the last 10 years or so, to be a valid and exciting medium, but it still is digital...virtual. I sometimes liken it to the recent rise of digital books, compared to a physical book. I'll take a real book hands down. Just to hold it, smell it, experience a physical thing like that. I think at the end of the day I'd be happy with my sketchbook and a 2B pencil. Even so, I am thankful for the possibilities that digital media provide. I wouldn't have a job without it!

  24. I would feel foolish to belittle the merits of working digitally as an entire medium but I do generally prefer traditional work. I have seen some incredible digital work but for the most part I see people who become incredibly technically proficient in things like applying textures or other digital shortcuts but are lacking in the fundamentals (anatomy, composition, color hierarchy). Not that traditionalists are all masters of the fundamentals but I see less shortcutting and falling back on tricks in traditional work. This is obviously a generalization, good work can come out of someone whatever the tool they choose to use and Digital work does have a lot of benefits and merits. Also I love the textural variation and feel of traditional work and I don't think the technology is near being able to accurately mimic it. I notice that some of the best digital work I see is often described as so good that you can't tell it's digital.

  25. I agree with idea that both are tools used to express whatever the idea is and so, used well, they are both equally useful.

    Having said that I have to say that when working digitally I miss the sensory experience of working with traditional media. When I was a kid I loved the smell of opening a new box of crayons and the "grab" of the paper as the wax was pulled across it. I don't get the same feeling scribbling on a Wacom tablet. It's crazy but I like the smell of oil paints too and I like blending with my fingers. Perhaps I spent too much time smelling crayons in my youth.

    Thanks for this amazing BLOG btw!

  26. i'm a technology baby. i love computers. being behind one just feels so right. i used to dream about getting my own tablet and just drewdrewdrew on paper and MSP and any digital program i could get my hands on. digital was the way to go for me.

    now i feel more comfortable on paper. not sure why, perhaps it's because ideas just come to me better.

    i wouldn't say the two are the same, but that's just what makes them special. there are different perks and sidetracks to digital and traditional art. it's a matter of preference. nothing more.

  27. With digital you struggle to get it sharp, with traditional you struggle to get it smooth.

    Smooth should be used conservatively. Smooth is the absence of personality. Therefor, traditional is the better choice for fully realised art.

    Digital is superior in experimentation and when you are a lesser artist. Its' worth is more in the practical side of artmaking. Besides, when digital pieces are good, it's never without success in emulating traditional.

  28. in my opinion a consummate artist wouldn't discriminate and would openly embrace any medium that they find a use for, throwing one out the window only when the joy of working in another eclipses alternatives.

    Its a difference between running away from a particular medium because it has intrinsic weaknesses, or a more genuine act of running towards something you really love.

    I must say that though i love digital, pencil, oil, watercolour and photography there is a very real and physical aspect which will make me choose traditional in the long run every time. Sitting in front of a computer is atrocious for your physical and mental health, where oil painting requires you to move your body, breath, step back, or become an extension of the medium.

    There is some interesting neuroscientific opinion on heavy computer use overstimulating the neocortex and dissociating us from the primal brain - which can sound 'evolutionary', but experientially disconnects us from our key human senses and sensibilities which inform our collaborative reality.

    So, ultimately... its whatever gets me out of the house and interacting with life and the world. Whether thats a pochade box or an ipad, the only thing that matters to me is if it is expanding my world or shrinking it.

  29. A stunning digital work of art by Craig Mullins does nothing less or more for me than a stunning painting by Keith Parkinson. They both have a flawless ability to immerse a viewer in their captured moment.

    I'm proud of my background in digital art and ultimately leave the argument of 'Digital Vs Traditional' to my art director and the vision they have chosen to put forth.

  30. Hi, I tried digital painting in the 90's and my mac just couldn't handle it. I tried 3d 'sculpting' with HASH and Electric Image Modeler and had so, so success. Actually found HASH fun in that drawing splines was like working with a pencil in someways... which leads me back to pencils, and paints, red clay, and sculpy... In the end I really love working traditionally as like a lot of people say, there's a direct connection to the work of art for me. I think that traditional arts final original piece trumps digital. Which is sad for digital because the tools for digital and how people use them is amazing and wonderful. In the end it's the final piece of work that sways me... if it's good, it's good, if it's bad, it's bad. At the IMC2010 I was intrigued by the hybrids Scott had, where he used printed digital and traditional paint on the same painting. Smart idea. [My worry with that is how long will the ink hold up vs. the paint? I know they say archival on some inkjets... but we won't really know that for 50 to 100 years, right?] I was also very intrigued by the extent to which some IMC students used printed digital as the basis for their traditional paintings... a great example is Adam's piece: ... [I like his traditional final better then the digital]. I'll end my ramble with a: can't we just get along, use both tools, do our art, and relax with a beer? :) Mike 'still working on my frost titan' Perusse

  31. Traditional or digital?… For me both work well for commercial work utilising their own individual advantages- I've been working on parity between the two. I often use elements/textures from my oil painting and often use photoshop or painter for quick sketches/comps/ideas before pencil or brush. They are both tools and when it comes down to commercial art on brief and on time it equates to the best, most efficient combination of the two.

    From a personal perspective (i am a traditionalist at heart) I have a connection to traditional work that easily outweighs digital- The tactile nature of painting/drawing, the sensory connection and the final hard original are the things that in my opinion the 1's and 0's of data on a magnetic platter don't compare to. The way light bounces through the layers of paint and the emotion of viewing a work/masterpiece in its original form can be breathtaking and inspirational. It's an open book, you can often see the process and the subtle dynamics of an intuitive brushstroke or pencil line. I'm all for trying to emulate this digitally or through an interface but ultimately it really just is an emulation.

  32. I favor traditional work. You cant get down and dirty and engulf yourself in the artwork when sitting in front of a computer. You don't get that human touch and a sense of life when looking at digital work. It's plastic. There's nothing better than looking at a piece of work done by hand.

  33. I agree with Steve. Traditional and Digital tools are tools that get the job done,
    for ease and speed of work - digital wins

    but for having an original piece of work after - well - Traditional takes the cake.

  34. Not much of an artist but I will say, when I don't have the money to spend on new art supplies I can use my computer. I can try out ideas and color and such, and when I finally do get the canvasses/paints/whatever I need, I am ready to go with whatever idea I had, no matter how long ago I had it. It nice.

  35. Traditionnal is "life".
    It does exist.

    Digital is just "fake"!
    Only a good tool to earn money more quicly!
    It's more easy and so, more democratic:
    some folks who can't paint in the traditionnal way, can do "masterpieces" with photoshop!
    But in the end, there's nothing left.
    Just full of images without soul wich seem the same from one artist to another!

    That's it!

    Sorry to look like an "art integrist" ^-^
    And sorry for my bad english!

  36. Style is what matters to me. I think that brushes and the way my hand swirps a brushstroke lends me emidiate a distinquished style. Brush stroke handling is directly conected to style.
    Looking at Spectrum and the internes in general, I have a hard time destinguish one digital artist from another ( unless ofcause their style is very extreme ). I am not sure why, but I think the digital media kind of devaluate, thins out style. It is not true for those who started out being traditional and then switching; Like your self Jon, or Todd Lockwood, Matt Cavotta and so on. They had the personal style nailed down before going digital.
    It might just be me. Maybe being a digital artist lets you see al the differences I dont.

  37. It seems to me the most interesting aspect of this debate is actually about how we view the art. Illustration is not intended to be seen as a painting hanging on a wall, but as a printed image on a book cover, magazine, whatever.

    If there has been a shift it is probably that we are now most familiar with seeing illustrative art via a computer monitor. This is the biggest filter - all art ends up being seen at the same size (the size of one's monitor)and through the same medium (digital).

  38. how does the simple fact that a piece is made digitally completely invalidate the results of that piece? people can do amazing things with both pencil and pen tablet.

  39. Here is one more thing I thought a lot about and that conserns this discussion.
    I use my computer for digital changes, I do know how to paint or draw digitally. But there is a mental shift for me. When doing a digital illustration, I am focused on the clients needs and wants. The illustration is nothing but digits in my computer and the whole end aspect is to deliver those digits to the client. If I have to change something it is easy and doable, I just paint on top, nothing lost nothing will ruin the old file or anything. My point is I do this for the client and the illustration, no matter how good it is, is solely purpose for the client to use it as a cover for a product.

    When I paint an acrylic painting I do it for me. I do it because I want to create an original piece, the hard unchangeable way, where I need to think hard about it for every brushstroke, since Control Z involves a lot of mixtures and paint. In the end I do have to deliver the image digitally uploaded to the client an dthe will use it the same way as if I had done it digitally. But I KEEP the original. I have a phisical proof of my hardship...and it is mine. Sometimes I do changes digitally instead of painting ontop. usually it is when I am satisfied with the original and do not agree with the artdirectors changes. They need to be doen, ofcause, but just not to my original.
    Point is. Doing paintings is for me. I am glad somebody pays em for it, but I painted them for me.
    I do not say any way is bette ror worse. Just that this is the way for me.
    ( for christ sake, who can look at a Jason Chan Illustration and say tehre is something wrong with digital art )

  40. I realized all my efforts when painting digitally was to emulate traditional mediuns... I´m slowly changing gears towards oils and loving every moment of it.

    And i don´t have to emmulate oils anymore. They are simply there!

  41. Well...I paint in oils and do digital art. Both take an artist on their own unique experience or path to a completed work of art. I throughouly enjoy the process of creating art on the computer and sitting in front of an easel which is why I can't let either go!

    However, my focus is always on improving my drawing and technical skills. Neither medium automatically allows for better work. When an artist in comfortable with the basic principles of art, they should be allowed to use whatever tools they wish.

  42. Different strokes for different folks. Great comments! I'm old school and not experienced enough in the digital realm. Honestly, I suck in photoshop! LOL! Traditional and Digital methods need to be embraced and understood. You can shoot at a target with a bow and arrow and hit it, and miss with a machine gun. Vice versa. If you want to create something beautiful, both mediums can hit the bullseye. I love the glow of traditional work though punching me in my face! Hurts so good! LOL! Did I mention I have a slingshot? :-) Go nail your targets everyone!

  43. I painted with oils for a few years at college, and I loved every minute of it. Afterwards, I found myself lacking both space and money to buy my own materials, so I switched to digital.

    In my final year at university, I discovered encaustic paint and I'm now getting back into traditional painting, using the skills I developed in Photoshop and Painter, but I doubt I'll ever forswear digital media.

    For me, digital painting isn't analogous to painting per se, but a hybrid of painting and printmaking.

  44. Ah, the debate still continues! I do agree with Jesper in that a lot of digital art can have a bit of sameness around it. I also agree not having a true, physical original in digital art is a drawback. I too, collect art and I never buy prints. There's just something amazing and wonderful about looking at the textures, brush strokes and what have you in a physical painting.
    I agree that there is no better way to create art for clients than digitally. Digital art has such an enormous amount of flexibility, allowing nearly endless revisions (which could be a bad thing actually). For me, working digitally allows for more experimentation, without fear of irreparable damage. Currently, space is at a premium and I am at a place where I do not have the physical space to set up my tables and such, so working digitally allows me to continue to create.

  45. For me it's definitely digital. Though I'm still a student, I started doing art in Photoshop and that is still the best medium to me. It's just too annoying that I can't 'Undo' or cut and replace in traditional drawing/painting, but I have to re-draw/paint the wrong part from the beginning. So time-consuming and messy! I hate to make a mess with all those chemicals and then wash the residues down to the rivers :S

  46. Taking a good photo of your oil painting for printing without having wonderful gears and filters to avoid glare is also tough... You guys could develop this subject a little, hehehe...

  47. Sigh ... I thought I could hold off on commenting, but I can't help but throw my two cents in.

    While I find Dan's analogy of keyboard v. piano interesting, I can't agree. Keyboards don't assist you in making your music sound better. If you can't play piano, you can't play the keyboard.

    If is not the same in art. With the "undo" feature, the ability to change hue, value and contrast on a whim, and paint-simulation technology that assists you in making digital strokes "painterly," how can you say that digital and traditional artists are of the same merit? (Not to mention all the 3-D modeling software that can fake a knowledge of form). If you create an entirely digital piece of art, you share authorship of that art with all the designers and engineers that made the software. The software is no longer a medium, it is your assistant.

    I think a more apt analogy would be "auto-tuned v. actual singing." Sure, a pop star can sing the lyrics, but are they a better singer than someone who can perform live and pitch-perfectly?

    Most reasons for embracing digital illustration have to do with time-saving and cost-cutting, and is that really what we want? Do we want the struggle to be taken out of illustration? Do we want to take shortcuts? Are we that lazy?

    Sorry for posting anonymously. Love the blog!

  48. Perhaps this is not fair but what about a comparison with writing? There are many great works of art in literature, and what we hold dear is the idea, the story, in which we participate with every page we cannot wait to turn. I am sure an original hand written script by Tolkien would auction off for a pretty penny, but I also think if he wrote those wondrous epics we all love so dear, using a computer, it would not change our love for them in the slightest. I want to affect people with my art in similar ways, to tell stories, and provide a seed of desire in which the viewer cannot help but ask new questions and beg for unexpected answers.

    Then again I do miss having originals around :)

  49. I sat in at a Craig Mullins keynote a few weeks back and he had an interesting thing to say. He talked about how one of the concept artists demoing at the event was using shapes and photo manipulation to create his concepts and that this kid was using photoshop the way it was meant to be used. Using photoshop, he said, to "paint" is in essence contorting its original purpose. Then of course he acknowledged his hypocrisy of course, being who he is.

    Why ride a horse when you can take a car? Why sail the ocean when you can fly across it. Such are the expectations of a changing and ever demanding commercial atmosphere. I think when you want to put food on the table you do whatever works.

    Whether you use traditional or digital, whether you are a puritan oil painter or a survival based digital painter I think the most important thing is to be as honest as you can with yourself and your audience. Regardless of the medium, no one likes a hack.

  50. Actually Jon that is a very good comparison. It seems people are stuck on the notion that if you can't hold something in your hands its not real, and there for not art. Its like saying Mozart's compositions are not a work of art - unless he's sitting in front of you performing it on piano.

    Art is the product of creation. Whether it holds 'soul' or evokes emotion is relevant only to the individual experiencing the work.

    A lot of the diatribe I'm reading here is reminiscent of the advent of Photography and the struggle for it to be recognized as an art form. Who hear can claim within the art world the notoriety of Ansel Adams? Man Ray? Helmut Newton? Not even Frank Frazetta can.

    While people take a moment to look down on digital illustration they should consider for a moment that the 'fine art' community largely considers fantasy art as nothing more than soulless commercial crap.

    Exactly how it seems a number of you consider my work and those of others that choose to work within the digital medium.

    It is one thing discussing the benefits or pros and cons of either process but another to dismiss or degrade it. I'll defer to a past post on Muddy Colors:

    "Don't Put Down Other Artist's Work It only makes you look (1) envious, (2) boorish, (3) stupid, and, in general, (4) bad. Or some combination of the four."

    Ultimately tho comments like those above drive me to embrace my medium with more vigor and passion.

    So thanks :-)

  51. I think that a digital image has a more real value than a traditionally created one. A canvas's value will bloat artificially because it is an object of desire to rich people, while a digital image can have more actual value because it can reach more people and enrich their lives. The total value of an image is limited by its existence as an object. In regards to the craft of painting, its just another kind of mud to play with.

  52. But Finnian, a traditionally created piece of art becomes digital in the exact moment you take a photo or scan it...

  53. These comments are a pretty good representation of what races through my head daily. I tend to agree with Jesper. Working digitally is a great way to find solutions quickly but does not "feel" as engaging as traditional media which is a personal experience. When it comes to finding a new vocabulary for mark making, traditional seems to provide more original solutions still but I value many many artists who work strictly digitally. The final image is what's important.

  54. I'd like to go with Jon Foster and Kieran Yanner on this one.

    In all my artistic endeavours - music, writing, drawing, photography and painting - I learned one thing: one informs the other and can help you to become a better artist. There are a lot of similarities between the art forms too but that is another topic. I think traditional and digital painting does the same.

    When I played in a Death Metal band, people said using keyboards would diminish the music, because it is an electronic tool, it would fake the music, it's no real music if you use one (yet they had no problems to consider the music from electric guitars as "real hand made music").
    This was in the early nineties and even then I knew: it doesn't matter what tools you use. It's the outcome that counts, no matter how you achieve it. Art has no boundaries in my mind.

    People were equally sceptical when the movies got color and sound. It didn't destroy moviemaking and photoshop won't take anything away from traditional painting. The world is big enough for both ways.

    If I look at a Craig Mullins I'm in awe, and if I look at a Sargent im in awe. I never thought one is better than the other, because I like one of the tools an artist used better.

    my two cents

  55. It's actually quite tricky to use digital tools and make your piece look "hand painted". I also find that most people shy to use colors in digital.

  56. I like both. But for now digital is what I dwell in.

  57. Very good idea, but not a topic for a fight. If there would be the debate of selling digital art in a gallery, vs. traditional, this would be a hard fight;-)

    For commissions and personal works I see myself working 90-100% digital right now, the process involves sculpting, photography and pencil, this would not change if the result was traditional. But the demand and the challenging market would not allow me to skip a piece and try again if it doesn´t work, let alone for the time it would cost. For personal works and the fun of experimentation I embrace this, but if theres a client waiting for a result, theres nothing that comes close to the bliss that digital media can be for clients and artists alike.

    To hit the topic about art-galleries, I think it needs again time and some pioneers to kick some curators and artcollectors butts, literally. Every medium has had its fight in the artworld to get accepted, just look at photography.

    But if streetartists like Banksy and Mr. Brainwash can hit the artgalleries with stencil-art and silkscreen stuff, I think its just a question of time until one talented capitialistic freak brings digital art in the mouth of liquid stockmarketers.

  58. I use both oil and digital and I think neither is better, like any medium it just comes down to personal preference as there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I'm going to defend digital though seeing as it gets most of the criticisms.

    Digital gives you a lot of freedom to explore and try new things out and I certainly dont think it's "soulless". It allows you to constantly be making changes and improvements throughout the process which you are less likely to do if it means repainting.

    Others have also talked about a lack of original, this can actually be an advantage working with cients, who would otherwise keep the original. If you think about music or writing, people appreciate them without having to read the original manuscript or listen to the first recording.

    The medium is only a means to an end and the final image is what really matters. Personally I would always use digital for a client but keep oil painting for myself.

  59. Well, Jon, you are a perfect example for the viewer to use as a judging tool. To be honest, I have to work to tell if any given piece of yours is digital or traditional. What comes through is your style, regardless. Obviously, it doesn't matter what tools an artist has...his work will decide the worth.

    Ken Meyer Jr.

  60. I love what I see being done with digital and am constantly amazed at the quality of work. The only critique I have of some digital work is the overuse of the medium. Some digital paintings are wall to wall technique with little thought for compositional flow. Every square inch of the "canvas" if filled with amazing technique, which tends to overload the senses. Any sense of a primary focus is lost. It looks cool though.

  61. Kieran; said it. He is so right.

  62. Fantasio has the right idea. As long as a digital piece is treated as a limited edition print to retain its value, there is no reason why it shouldn't be treated the same way as a silk-screen or a piece of photography. It's a matter of the collectors and galleries changing their minds about what valuable art is.

    And it is happening. The Society of Illustrators in Manhattan had a show up not long ago called "Blow Up" featuring massive prints of both traditional media pieces from Sam Weber alongside digital artist Tomer Hanuka.

  63. Sketch in pencil. Make maquettes and light them. Photograph your models. Refine. Put onto canvas. Paint. Digitize. Refine in photo tool of choice. Send digitals to publisher, put originals in gallery. A great way to enjoy a wide range of disciplines.

  64. If I'm truly going to "vs" these two then paint always wins over pixels. Digital is made for commercial purposes and I absolutely love it. If we view any medium as solely a way to make an image than digital is no worse and maybe even better because of speed and experimentation. Sometimes it doesn't matter how the work is made if the image kicks absolute ass. I'd take a print of Mr. Foster's work over many origianl paintings in museums. But when we say "painting" then obviously i think real paint will always be a better choice. Corel wouldn't call the program Painter and make digital tools mimic traditional if paint wasn't the standard. Mr. Foster could make his digital work look a thousand different ways, he could use rounder brushes, he could make it look more like watercolor or crayon, he could lay over texture after texture, or keep his pencil lines more prevalent. But he uses the tools best suited to make the work look like oils or acrylic. WHY? Maybe because something about a painting will always fascinate us, because one brush stroke somehow makes a surface breath with life, one little highlight can make everything glow. Every artist ask yourselves this question: if by some miracle you woke up tomorrow with the ability of a Rembrandt or a Phil Hale to control and manipulate actual paint and know color and light like Vermeer, would you work traditionally or digitally? I would expect many of us would choose to use (even commercially) paint.

  65. Fun topic! OK, here’s some serious cynicism (I use PS a lot):

    Flesh verus Machine.

    Feel verus Do.

    A computer is a tool. Like a brush. A computer is also a robot, because it performs a task on its own. Artificial intelligence directs the robot’s ‘muscles’. Photoshop is AI. And we tell to Photoshop what it tells the computer muscles to do (create).

    My guess is the physical (muscle movement – non-brain) element of visual creation will continue to be replaced by robotics.

    My punk 15 y/o nephew can use Photoshop like a MoFo. My fault for teaching him. In a decade it’ll be 12 y/o tweeners. Twenty years from now there will be WiFi brain implants that paint our thoughts in Photoshop. Seriously. It is insane what biotech labs are working on, and succeeding with small animals. No more need for muscle memory. Hurrah! No more ‘pain’ in painting. Just call us, Visualizers.

    So agreed: story drives visual content. A computer can’t possibly write the next Lord of the Rings? A computer can’t plan a storyboard or decide on the viewpoint of the viewer. It can’t decide what the perfect futuristic armor looks like. Though, damn, I bet some programmer is trying to figure it all out.

    The day we allow a program to artificially create our ideas is the day we all die!

    Well anyhow, new stories need to be told and updated for a new and ever-expanding generation of consumers. As visual artists, it’s our job to deliver these stories through modern visual formats. Formats dependent on robotics and AI, like the iPad.

    So why not use the help of a robot to make visual content?

    How does it FEEL to do things with your own hands? How does it feel to let a robot do some of those things for you? How does the robot feel?

    OK, so we must define the parts of creativity that give the human creator a sense of feeling. It’s probably different for everyone. I like the drawing phase best. Betty likes painting. Lenny likes all the phases. Sue just likes the finished image.

    But, the robot we created has now decided for us which phases give us the most feeling. It has stripped away the muscle, and left us with only our brains.

    We supply the story, the robot does the rest!


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