Clash of the Canvases

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Peyton Ludwig

The conflict between digital artists and traditional artists has been a long and complicated one (Photo courtesy of Peyton Ludwig).

When we think of art, what most often comes to mind are the classic paintings of the Renaissance or the traditional pencil and paper sketchbooks. However, with digital art on a rapid rise in popularity, it may very well overtake traditional as the most preferred medium of art. What may be the most highly debated subject between artists is determining which is superior: the sketchbook or the stylus. I believe that the stylus rules supreme. 

Many traditionalists believe digital art isn’t “real” art, and there are many misconceptions behind it. The most common one is that the “computer does it for you”. While there are tools to help aid the art process, like the use of different brushes and layers, the work behind the art is entirely done by the artist. Digital art is most commonly done via a tablet and stylus that emulate drawing on a piece of paper. Therefore, the drawing itself requires the same movements as it would on a traditional medium, so the talent of the artist is still directly translated to the quality of the art.

While it does require the same amount of skill as traditional artists, there are distinct benefits to digital art that help streamline the process. Every digital artist’s best friend is the “Undo” button, which instantly reverses any mistake the artist could make. Layers allow the artist to add lineart, color, shading, and highlights to a piece without the threat of messing up the art itself. The artist has hundreds of brushes and tools at their disposal and never have the problem of needing to take care of them or buy new ones. Digital art helps take away all of the unnecessary or worrisome aspects of the process leaving only the pure art process itself.

The last distinct advantage is how accessible it is in the modern-day. For one, it’s cheaper in the long run. While traditional artists constantly have to buy new materials and sketchbooks, the drawing tablet and art program are most often a one-time purchase. Not only that, but with social media and art platforms, it’s easier to share art now more than ever, which is one of the best advantages of digital art. It has become more and more popular with the growing influence of the internet, and will likely only become more popular and mainstream in the future.

Many people have even made careers out of digital art on all kinds of platforms. Professional artists like Nik Ainley and Emilie Bendix Engmann work as artists full time through commissions and creative projects. Many digital artists have a huge following on social media platforms such as Instagram, including comic artists like Jenny Jinya, Adam Ellis, and Sarah Andersen. Digital art has launched many careers and serves even more of a testament to its popularity.

Overall, both the digital and traditional art mediums are valid in their own right, but I believe digital art has its own distinct advantages. It requires the same amount of skill as traditional art, but it has tools to remove the tedious or stressful parts and make the process much more streamlined. It’s fantastic to see how far technology has come to make digital art not only a valid art form but a popular and accessible one as well.