Traditional vs. Digital Art: Why artists should do both.

Traditional vs. Digital Art: Why artists should do both.

Traditional artists, like myself, have to agree that in today’s day and age being present online is inseparable from calling yourself an artist. It’s the reason this blog was created.

When I started out on my path to becoming a professional painter at about 10 years old, it never occurred to me how artists are meant to promote themselves and eventually become famous.

I imagined something similar to the scenes described in art history books, with grand salons presenting desirable pieces and galleries magically finding your talent as a diamond among the ruff.

Little did I know, that being an artist isn’t just painting and drawing whatever you want and requires an immense amount of patience and social media savviness to make yourself noticed.

A drawing I did in pen when I probably should have been studying.

Getting Recognised on the Internet

Often for an artist to become recognised it can take their entire life and they still would only become famous posthumous. Social media allows artists to change that and digital painting is a far more accessible way to a broader, not necessarily art-focused, in a traditional sense, audience.

So here comes a dilemma:

An artist has to decide whether they want to steer off the traditional path and try themselves in digital painting for the purpose of driving their popularity, or stick to the usual ways of finding fame in the art world, potentially losing a huge opportunity to utilise another mean to support their cause.

Now that I split myself between studying painting in an art academy, UI/UX design and digital painting, I sometimes ask myself:

| “Am I still producing fine art?”

The reason why I have this anxiety-enticing question and I am sure I am not the only young artist out there with such feelings, is that fine art has always been regarded as something very particular. In the eyes of most people, it is a painting, a sculpture or anything within or close to that spectrum produced by someone’s hands using actual physical materials.

Looks Fine to Me

The Post-internet era managed to make some progress on how we view digital art, like in the case of Jon Rafman’s “Dream Journal” or Kevin Abosch’s “Yellow Lambo”.

Dream Journal by Jon Rafman, 2016–2017 (Photo credit: MoMA)

However, the works that your favourite digital artist is posting on their (selfless plug) Instagram, actual captivating pieces of art, are still most likely to be disregarded by critics as anything close to fine art.

So why is it such a sensitive topic of what is commercial and what is fine in the first place? After all, there are multiple examples in history of how commercialised art has become something classical and typical for art today. 

Yellow Lambo by Kevin Abosch, 2018 (Photo credit: SOMA Magazine)

Alphonse Mucha, whose work we all recognise and associate with the Art Deco movement, had his famous pieces initially used as advertisements. One might argue that those were still produced using physical materials and the mass reproduction method used was rather tactile in comparison to today’s painting and printing using programs on a computer, but the main point is that at the time of Mucha’s art creation, it wasn’t necessarily seen as fine.

Job Cigarettes by Alphonse Mucha, 1896 (Photo credit: Masterpiece Art)

Traditional art tends to be nostalgic, which, in my opinion, contradicts with one of its big purposes to broaden our way of thinking and viewing the world. I am guilty of that nostalgia myself, as I often look up to old big masters of art like one of my favourites, Chardin, instead of someone more contemporary.

This attachment to the established way of making art is what makes my spine tingle when instead of an analog painting’s photo I post a digitally produced work with a dragon and it gets more appreciated than any traditional painting or drawing I make, because the audience I usually encounter on social media is more receptive to digital art rather than classical paintings.

But what I did realise recently, and have to remind myself of from time to time, is that there always has been the commercial side of art that helped artists to either become famous or have enough money to produce what they want instead of someone else’s orders.

Those commercial pieces are also considered fine art today. In our times, it is digital paintings that serve a lot of artists as the means of making money and gaining popularity, while traditional artists who struggle in making their name through just sharing their analog works shouldn’t shy away from that method.

“…the audience I usually encounter on social media is more receptive to digital art rather than classical paintings.”

It is creativity, mastery of an artist and thought that a work can provoke in its viewer that counts in fine art. Though, I don’t consider myself anywhere near that level of experience in digital painting, I am not hesitant to use it as a method of both expression and self-promotion, because my intentions are the same as when I produce analog pieces.

I want any piece I make to truly count to the viewer.

Art is destined to evolve and look for new methods of expression and digitalisation is just a part of it, regardless of what it is viewed as by art critics right now. Time will show that sincere intentions is what builds fine art in the way we see it.

This is a repost of my first ever blog on Medium that I made a couple months ago. It’s been a long time since, and I am ready to write something again. I will share things that I have and continue gaining experience in, whilst becoming a recognised artist, my approach to work and any troubles a young artist goes through during the beginning of their career.

If you liked what you read , stay tuned for the upcoming post and follow me on my social media in the mean time! I will be glad to see you there:)

You can find me on:

Instagram and Facebook

You can also buy my digital prints here and my traditional pieces here.

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