Five Reasons Digital Art is an Avenue Worth Considering

by Melissa K. Vassar-Belloso

There are a lot of different ways to create and those ways have evolved with what technologies and tools become available to creatives. Some of us grew up in a time before sophisticated creative tools hit a more technological era and might remember simpler times where you had to create traditionally, but this is definitely a thing of the past as software is even starting to be able to mimic traditional art supplies. But it begs the age old question, which way is better?  During my next two issues I’ll be exploring both digital art and traditional art so we can try to answer that question.

By Melissa K. Vassar-Belloso

Growing up I was always heavily exposed to art and literature. I didn’t have a huge mass of toys with bells and whistles and I spent the majority of my childhood having creative forms of entertainment in place of that.During some of what I would consider my really serious gateways into exploring art I sometimes had nothing more than a pack of printer paper and some Crayola art supplies. However, over the years I’ve slowly shifted from the creative methods of my youth to a pretty much fully digital art process.

Recently though, I came across a YouTuber called “Draw with Jazza” who notably works in both and makes a great case for both. Seeing him creating professional quality works from everything from budget markers to whiteout really sparked something in me. It made me think about those old days with nothing but crayola crayons,cheap paper and enthusiasm. But most of all, it made me wonder what made me lose that great love I had for art when I was rocking a less advanced toolbox. It made me want to figure out what made me drift away from traditional art and replace it with digital.

For the record, my older sister to this day is still committed to being a traditional artist. She went a lot further with doing things the old-fashioned way and got a fine art degree. I was only brave enough to even attempt watercolors when I had an undo button at the ready. I went to school for IT and part of me really loves technology. When I was able to combine my love for creating with that, I was pretty happy. I love to find new ways to create using technology of all kinds, but not at the risk of it looking like a computer developed the idea.

I think some people get the idea that digital art is less art sometimes though. It seems lazier,easier or even less creative but today I’d like to discuss five reasons why that is simply not true and digital art is with dabbling in, especially if you’re used to working in traditional media.

As always, keep in mind this is just my list. There are a ton of reasons to explore digital art and I would imagine they differ for every person. I just tried to hit on the ones that I thought would be most appealing to people. I hate to say this before every single list but I get people mailing me saying I miss things or they don’t like my picks for the list. As I usually say, we’re allowed to have different opinions. I get that you don’t think the same way I do or have my preferences. These lists are meant to be a starting point, not a truth. I would encourage you to use my list as a starting point to discover the world of digital art for yourself and wherever that journey takes you is fine.

Reason #1
Digital art is cost effective.

Way back in the day I remember little me coming to nearly every career day with the same aspiration to be an artist. Unfortunately little me changed my mind pretty quickly when I had to see my sister actually go through art school. A life of art slowly began to appear to be more trouble than it was worth. It wasn’t some fantasy job of painting your days away in a little studio and sipping a drink. It was long hours, creative community politics and a lot of expense with much less than equal return. Now if you appreciate the struggle and love it anyways then good on you. If you want to explore art on a budget however, digital art is the way to go.

There are a lot of reasons that digital art is often a lot less of a financial burden on people. Instead of constantly draining and purchasing supplies, you buy software which is typically a one-time fee. Instead of renting a studio, you work from a desk. Instead of throwing out expensive mistakes on failed projects, you click an undo button without losing a dime. Instead of not having enough of a supply, you have as much of it as you want at your fingertips without having to buy more. Sick of throwing out dried up paints,crusty brushes and broken pencils? Digital supplies never deteriorate or break.  I could really go on a lot more on this one, but the bottom line is that digital art is extremely easy on your wallet. If you want to be creative but you can’t afford a traditional setup,you can easily jump into digital art at little to no cost and overcome the budget barriers.

Reason #2
Digital art makes learning more accessible.

Many people have concerns about being “good” at art and seeing the sheer amount of techniques out there to learn can be overwhelming. Seeing the cost of art school can make it even scarier. Realizing you probably won’t have an easy time finding a job after art school is really just the horrifying icing on the cake. Learning doesn’t have to be expensive though. Technology has made education a much more wallet-friendly experience and that definitely applies to art. How about a friendly tool budget to go with that nice affordable Skillshare class you picked up? Graphic editors make a great budget companion for learning art because they reduce the money you put out on supplies. That’s money in your pocket so you can dabble and then have more money to work with later if you still want to try it traditionally.

Additionally, graphic editors are often very easy to pick up on and a decent graphic tablet can even be bought on wide range of budgets if you shop for one of those. Are you strapped for time? Get the most out of your lessons with a much quicker setup and lower stress. How about portability? Maybe you want to scope out a real landscape for your landscape painting lesson. A digital setup is usually much easier to take back and forth than a traditional one, which makes working on location while you learn a breeze. A well cared for digital studio is an investment that will last far longer than traditional supplies. But what about the different traditional medias,right? You can’t fake oil paints or pencil! Actually, you can. A lot of digital programs are getting very close to near perfect mimicry of real media. It’s unfortunately pretty likely that learning art will end up being a passion project and not a career, but with a digital boost you no longer need to let that scare you away from learning new creative techniques.

Reason #3
Digital art allows for experimentation without penalty.

Here’s the scenario. You’ve spent weeks on a painting. You’ve meticulously envisioned the piece in your head,mixed precise color combinations and went all out on getting the best supplies for your masterpiece. You’re truly in the zone and painting a delicate stroke of paint on your canvas and then you sneeze. You look up after sneezing and your heart stops for a moment as you realize you’ve just wasted nearly a month of time and hundreds of dollars in supplies because you have to start over. If it sounds awful, it’s because it is. It happens a lot with traditional art. You try different supplies,new techniques and tackle subjects you’ve never taken on before only to create a very expensive contribution for the garbage can.

Experimentation and exploration cost money in traditional art and that can sometimes add stress to the process. Let’s try this experience again with digital art….

Here’s the scenario. You’ve spent weeks on a painting. You’ve meticulously envisioned the piece in your head,mixed precise color combinations and went all out on getting the best supplies for your masterpiece. You’re truly in the zone and painting a delicate stroke of paint on your canvas and then you sneeze. You look up after sneezing and your heart stops for a moment. You go up to the menu,hit the undo button and your heart starts pumping again as that nasty stray stroke of paint vanishes. You pick up where you left off and hopefully took some time to wipe your nose for the sake of hygiene.

Working in a digital format allows you to play with with your tools as much as you want and have less costly mistakes. This can make a huge difference in how much you enjoy what you’re doing. It can also be more of an encouragement to try different things. You have tons of different software,textures,media and tools at your fingertips. If you want to go wild, you can. If you want to go back, it’s a click of a button. If you aren’t happy with your final product,freely tweak the colors,brightness and other qualities in post with no damage to the original work. Have you ever wanted to try mixed media but the price of getting started scares you? Mixed media is available at the push of a button with digital art. Do you have problems understanding layers? Layers are a piece of cake to manage when you work in digital, so go crazy. Want to do alternate versions of a piece or maybe some touch-ups? You can simply “save as” and create a whole new masterpiece from that original. Digital art is made for the curious, so if you want to be able to explore your creativity without spending your life savings it might just be for you.

Reason #4
Digital art is dynamic and versatile.

One of the best things about technology is that it’s not stagnant. Traditional art supplies can only change or improve so much, but the same limitation doesn’t apply to technology. We’ve gone from MS paint to the likes of Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter and new creative technologies are happening all the time. Aside from the more obvious advantages to digital art, you can literally upgrade and morph your supplies on the spot. Need a thicker paint,darker shade or softer pencil? You can have one at the slide of a dial. Need more watery watercolor or a set of markers with all the copic color range? You can mimic them at the push of a button. How about that canvas? Did you know some graphic editors allow you to change the paper texture to everything from the lightest paper to the the roughest canvas?

Sometimes you might wish you could turn your painting at a different angle for part of a project. With digital art you can. Digital art isn’t just cost-effective. A lot of its features also add convenience and accessibility. Taking advantage of the things digital art offers can save you time and reduce the stress involved in creating a piece of work. Best of all, most software includes updates so if the program gets better further down the road you get a nice wallet-friendly boost to your creative arsenal.

If you get bored, most graphic editors can actually be expanded with new filters,brushes and even areas where you can create your own items to use in projects such as stamps,brushes or textures. Not to mention that digital studios are far from limited. Importing and exporting allows your masterpiece to go between any number of programs and devices that you need it to so your toolbox always has room to grow. If you love to create but hate to be bored, digital art is a perfect option for creativity  that will never turn stale.

Reason #5
Digital art is space friendly.

Traditional art setups can take up a lot more space than you think. Once you throw in the easels,tables,supply storage and other incidentals then factor in allowing for ventilation it can be quite the ordeal. It will probably require a dedicated room in your home or a rented studio space if you’re really taking a serious jab at it. Wouldn’t it be great to get that room or that studio deposit back and have your setup be a fraction of the space?

Digital art is typically much less demanding on real estate. Because you don’t have to account for chemicals or ventilation it can be anywhere. But best of all, your whole studio has roughly the footprint of a typical office desk. Whether you have a whole room or a small corner to work with, digital art takes away the concern of whether you have the space to start creating a masterpiece.

BONUS! Reason #6
Digital art cuts down prep and cleanup time.

One evening my sister was working on a painting in the basement of our family home. We have four dogs and my sister’s dog is particularly a diva. My sister was really focused on her painting and the dog was really unhappy the painting was stealing her thunder. She proceeded to stomp her paw into some bright red paint and gave my sister the most bitter look I’ve ever seen a dog make before she jogged off down the carpeted hall, tracking red pawprints. Traditonal art can be a little messy sometimes. It takes a lot of time to set up to get started and just as much or more time to clean up depending on your circumstances.

If you’ve ever wanted to cut that time in half then digital art may be right up your alley. Software takes minutes to open or close,there’s no messy supplies to keep track of and there’s much less chance of ruining your clothes. Prep and cleanup can add stress and deplete from productivity, but digital art is made for those who want to create right when inspiration hits with as little distraction as possible.

BONUS! Reason #7
Digital art can create long-term income instead of just one sale.

When you create a painting with traditional art it’s typically one large payoff or what would be considered active income. Financial studies show that the key to success, regardless of what we do in life, is to create strong sources of passive income which is usually continuous and sustainable. Not all traditional art is a one-time earner but a lot of it is, and that can be an issue if you want to pursue getting solid and worthwhile profit from your creative passions. This is because the implied value of traditional art is how unique it is. It gains value when it isn’t mass-produced but this can be a detriment to the artist who spends anywhere from weeks to months for a one-time payoff that may or may not be what they wanted.

Marketing with traditional art is typically a bit of a crapshoot because of the different audiences and standards. Even if you find a way to work in reproductions or prints, traditional artworks don’t always translate well for this method. Digital artwork bypasses a lot of these issues. It’s quicker to reproduce,easier to alter to create different or new versions and has a much wider range of it’s expected uses and the audiences it caters to.Digitally produced art can not only be traditionally printed but is ideal for use on print-on-demand products or even as stock visuals to really create multiple avenues of passive income and reach even the lowest budget clients. Instead of relying on more expensive reproduction methods or investing in heavy machinery, you can do a lot of the work yourself from your good old computer and save some money. You can even use digital to create the illusion of real media so even a digital portrait can fool even the snootiest gallery goer. If you want to make bank without going broke, digital art is a great way to do that and might be worth looking into.

BONUS! Reason #8
Digital art is healthier and safer.

One of the sort of simpler benefits to digital art is that it improves health and safety conditions for artists. Traditional art can include a lot of various substances and chemicals that can be bothersome or even harmful. Many of the substances also include special storage stipulations or the use of protective gear at times. Digital art allows you to bypass this completely. Do paint fumes bother you? Do you use art techniques that require a lot of ventilation? Do you use substances that can get on you skin and irritate it? If you want to trade in those special instructions for some creative freedom and clean air then you might want to consider giving digital art a try.

I could have really droned on for pages on this topic, but that’s it for this Creative 5 but I hope you feel inspired to think about digital art just a little differently and give it a try.

Thanks for reading this issue of Creative 5!

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