The Philosophy of Traditional Art vs. Digital Art (2024 Updated)

A portrait of a black woman half made using digital art and the other made using traditional art.

The digital world has changed a lot for us humans, right? 

What do you think of its effects on art then? 

Yes, my fellow artists, what do you really think of the tremendous progress of digital art? 

Well, I am here to put forward and remind you about a debate that has been going on for quite some time now! 

The ‘Traditional Art vs Digital Art’ war is something all artists have experienced at least once in their lifetime. And this debate need not be with anyone else but within the artist itself. 

I know that I too have personally experienced this dilemma!

With the emergence of the digital world, the digital has taken over every aspect of our lives and there is no stopping it now. 

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That said, it has also made us look at traditional art from a different perspective. A perspective where we tend to appreciate even more than before.

 I definitely know that I have! 

While going through this dilemma myself, I, as usual, journaled all my thoughts and learnings. Now I have enough to share with my readers too. 

You are in safe hands, so sit back and let us indulge in this debate of traditional vs digital art. 

What is the Difference Between Traditional Art and Digital Art?

Two dog portraits, where one is made of traditional art and the other is made of digital art.

The debate of traditional vs digital art is something you are going to come across every now and then. 

It is important to keep ourselves updated with these debates because each time you will see something new.

 As artists or an art admirer, knowing the difference and their relevance is vital to appreciate the art better. So let us get into it without further delay;

What is Traditional Art?

a older woman's hand reaching out for pencils.

Traditional art is everything you know about art before the digital entered the world. This kind of art is always physical, it needs a human touch on canvas or paper to portray the artist’s vision. 

Along with that, traditional art uses other physical equipment to create artwork that is unique to its times. 

There are of course so many kinds of traditional artwork that we can think of, right? But in this article let us keep our focus on some of the visual arts, like paintings and drawings, be it of any form. 

While creating traditional art, there are many different art mediums to choose from. Some of these mediums are oil painting, charcoal drawing, pencil sketching, color pencil drawing, pastel portraits, watercolor painting, acrylic painting, etc. 

Phew, just imagining the range of artwork that traditional art has the potential to deliver excites me! 

With so many mediums and equipment to choose from, the artist gains liberty to best express themselves. The painting or art that has been created comes directly from the creator’s hands. 

Even traditional artists who have experienced the magic of digital art, still choose to stick with traditional mediums. 

One factor that I absolutely love about traditional artwork is that no two pieces, no matter how much an artist tries, can be duplicated. 

Yes, traditional art styles can be messy and all over the place, but that is also what makes it so unique. 

Traditional art is just not about creating art, but also about creating the artist, and sometimes that takes years! 

What is Digital Art?

a man recreating a replica of a water color art on paper on his digital tab.

With the emergence of the digital, everything was experimented with technology to find a faster, innovative  and efficient way to create things. This was done even with art. 

Any art created on a virtual platform with the help of digital tools is known as digital art.

To make digital art, you need to depend on technology and digital gadgets, which helps you create your vision virtually. The more you are well versed with how the technology works and how it can help you, the better you will get at creating digital art. 

Art with technology opened so many new possibilities in the world of art and artists. Haven’t we already seen how AI can generate paintings of people from our history?

 I know, I was flabbergasted too! I think one of the main purposes of digital art was to make the experience as immersive as possible! 

With digital art, the possibility becomes endless. With so many gadgets, softwares and digital art websites, the artist is left with so many options to choose from. 

It also gives you the agency to create something faster and with less equipment. 

If you ask me whether we have already seen everything digital art can offer us artists, the answer is no. In fact, digital art is growing as you read this blog right now! 

The Two Sides of Traditional and Digital Art

Ah, yes! Now comes the time for the comparison. Which art style do you think will win the debate here? 

One side we have the evergreen traditional art which still prevails among millions of artists. On the other side, we have art and technology, the digital art, with its brimming possibilities. 

To get a better understanding of the two art styles, let us look at the cons and pros of each. Let us dive straight into the debate then? 

Pros of Traditional Art

a man standing surrounded with paintings and traditional art, with closed eyes and open arms.

Dear readers, if you are an artist yourself, then you know you began your art journey with traditional art. 

There is something so intimate and fundamental about the traditional art styles, don’t you think? Let’s indulge in the pros, shall we?

A Unique Experience 

Every physical art you create using the traditional style, there is a story behind it. Take a moment and try to think about your first memory creating art. I’m sure there lies a unique story there. Beautiful and extraordinary, wasn’t it?

 Now imagine  recreating that moment. Or any other memory where you created a particular art piece. 

The emotions you had, the struggles you faced, the overwhelming joy you felt. It cannot be recreated just like your art piece because that was a unique experience. 

Traditional art has the ability to strip down the painting and dwell you into something deeper! 

Get Messy and Love it

I am not sure how many of you would agree, but this used to be one of my favorite things  while making an art piece from scratch! 

Get messy with all the pain and equipment. Paint on your face, brush strokes on your trousers, pencils tucked in your hair. The comfort an artist feels being in this “mess” is a part of the process. 

 Embrace your inner mess while you create something with the outer mess. This again becomes a very intimate experience you have with your art and traditional art makes that happen for you! 

No Depending on Technology

Yes, I am looking at all of you who struggle with art and technology combined! If you have all the equipment you need to create the image you have in mind, why need technology anyway, right? 

In fact, I know some of you would be the happiest with just a piece of paper and a charcoal piece to sketch! 

Versatile in Nature

Traditional art has always been so versatile in nature! There is so much to choose from, the medium of painting to the equipment you use, etc. 

I am sure that you as an artist will have your own comfort  medium in traditional art styles through which you channel your magic. 

Apart from that, there are so many types of painting and techniques to choose from, giving room for more creativity. 

The best part of it all? Even if you choose a medium, there are always so many variations of styles and techniques within a particular medium. This gives the artist a whole range of styles to explore! 

Uses Your Whole Body

Imagine this, you are working on a watercolor painting, standing and swaying in front of your canvas stand. While your favorite music plays in the background, you are humming and moving. You relish the smell of canvas and paint and there is a comforting smile on your lips!

Doing traditional art engages all the senses of an artist and keeps you immersed in the experience of art making. 

Teaches you Discipline and Patience 

Every traditional artist would know what it means to be disciplined by the art they practice. 

When you are someone who believes in the process of creating art, you already know about patience. 

Traditional art takes time, and that is where the beauty lies too. Believing the process and giving it time for the magic to naturally flow is an acquired skill of every single artist! 

Trusting the Work Progress

If art can teach you discipline, what more can it do? With patience also comes the ability to trust the progress. The Renaissance artists did not make their art in one day! 

Remember a time when you could only manage to give a few brush strokes a day? That is completely normal. 

Traditional art’s beauty lies in the process itself. The end product is always worth the time and effort you put in. 

The Art Becomes Infinite 

How many of you love going to an art museum, stare at a masterpiece and completely get lost in its meaning? I definitely do! 

Every single art you see there went through a whole journey of being created. Even when we humans will pass by, the artwork outlives us!

When an artist has mastered the art and understands the process, the art becomes infinite! 

A Therapy in Itself 

There is nothing that can beat some good old art therapy! Even before the world understood ‘therapy’, they have been making art.

Traditional art reminds us how we can tune back into our creative space and focus on the inner self! Art also becomes a safe medium to project our state of mind. 

The lengthy, time-taking process of creating traditional art helps as a grounding technique that regulates emotion and calms the mind. 

Cons of Traditional Art

A man tired lying down next to his paint palette and canvas, with a hand over his head. He seems to be tired and in distress.

As much as we love practicing traditional art, there are some disadvantages that can’t be avoided. That said, artists around the world has dealt with them for all these years;

Time Becomes Your Frenemy!

Yes, I know what you must be wondering. Time was supposed to be the best part? It definitely is, but time can also be your frenemy, and frenemies definitely know how to get on your nerves! 

In a world of traditional art vs digital art, time does become a factor to consider. Traditional art is meant to take the time, but in so many instances, this becomes an issue too. What do you think? 

Mastering the Technique Takes Time

Be it of any form, mastering a particular art takes time. You are clearly not the artist you were 5 years back, or even a year back. 

It is only with practice and time does an artist start mastering his technique and create something unique. 

With traditional artwork, it is several attempts of trial and error before you start understanding different techniques! 

Want more proof? Check out these beautiful handmade paintings by PortraitFlip’s finest artists. Their artwork speaks volume of them mastering the technique! 

Mistakes Can Be Permanent

With traditional artwork, mistakes done on canvas may not be erasable at most times. These mistakes happen with everyone, and a lot of  times, you need to start from the top all over again! 

That said, from the mistakes that were made, there are a lot of artists who create something absolutely amazing.

 Those kinds of mistakes have always managed to astonish me! 

Limitations of Materials 

There is yet another struggle that all traditional artists face; never having enough art supplements.

Each artwork, depending on the medium you use, requires adequate art supplies. And let’s face the truth, art supplies are costly! 

This again can be an expensive affair, so when artists are not able to get access to art supplies, the artwork also gets delayed. 

Get Messy and Dread It

Again, getting messy while creating artwork need not always be a pleasant experience.

 I acknowledge that there are many artists out there who do not enjoy the mess, even sometimes when they cannot avoid it.  

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Not wanting to get everything messy is a feeling that is completely understandable! 

Safe Keeping and Storage Issues

This is one of the biggest dilemmas a lot face with traditional artwork. With physical paintings, there also comes the problem of storing them as they do take up a lot of space. There are suite a few things to keep in mind while mindfully storing artwork

If the paintings are not maintained well, the quality gets affected. And sometimes restoring these paintings can cost you quite a bit! 

Pros of Digital Art

A man creating digital art using his gadgets and digital equipment.

Art took a leap with the emergence of technology and the digital world. Since then, art and technology together has been soaring high up in the skies! There are so many advantages that digital art brought with it. Let us discuss some of them;

Easy Space Management

The best part of the digital world? There is this enormous never-ending virtual space, where any data, including your digital art can be stored. 

Apart from that, because you do not have to carry around any material, and because your art does not need physical space, it is easy to manage. 

Mess? What is That?

This comes without saying, but we cannot even compare the mess when it comes to traditional vs digital art. Because with digital art there is no mess to start with! 

A lot of artists find it easy to organize their artwork on a digital platform. This way the process becomes smoother for the artists. 

What do you prefer as an artist? Mess or no mess? 

Endless Possibilities 

With technology, also comes endless possibilities! This applies for digital art too. Think about how many digital art websites, applications and softwares have you come across? 

Even if you are on an application like Instagram, there is a possibility to use your artistic skills to create your own piece of art. This can be done either in a video form or a painting! 

Want proof, check out PortraitFlip’s Instagram space to witness creativity at its best! 

Apart from that, there is so much more to learn from the digital world. This virtual space is expanding as we breathe, with that the possibilities too. 

Undo Button Becomes Your Best Friend! 

Making a mistake while creating digital can of course be tedious. But at the same time, you also have the undo button to remove your mistakes immediately!

With this you can be guaranteed to have the perfect piece of artwork just as you visioned it on your screen. 

User Friendly

Be it a digital art tablet or  a digital art app, they all strive to be user friendly for you. With easy access to these amenities, you are also able to use digital tools to your fullest potential. 

There are several tools at your disposal, to guide you through your art making process. The thought is quite inviting, isn’t it?

While comparing traditional art vs digital art, this would be one of the main differences any artist would notice. 

Less time Consuming

If you know how to use the tools on the digital, then you can create your artwork in a fraction of the time you use for creating a traditional art piece. 

You do not have to go through the hassle of waiting for the paint to dry or wait for art supplements. Everything you need is right there on the screen, a click away! 

Cost Effective in the Long Run

Unlike traditional artwork, digital art needs fewer physical tools to work with.

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 It is cost effective in the longer run because most of the expenses go into buying your digital gadgets, and one or two softwares. 

You do not have to drill a hole in your pocket while practicing digital art. 

No Hassle to Keep the Artwork Safe 

This is an obvious point, isn’t it? You do not have to stress that creative mind with the worry of storing your artwork. All your artworks can be stored in the digital space. 

With digital artwork, there is also no worry of getting the artwork spoiled with time. That means, you do not have to look for ways to restore it and spend more money on it! 

 Easy to Make Copies

There is absolutely no hassle when it comes to duplicating digital art! It can easily be shared on the virtual digital space and can be replicated if needed. 

Creating variations of the same artwork or making replicas of it can all be just a click away! 

Cons of Digital Art

A woman with he hand on her head, showing tiredness and distress, while making digital art.

Although the digital world has made the process of creating art an easier process, artists still do experience disappointments! 

How about we go through some of the most concerning ones?

The Need to Rely On Power and Gadgets

This is a concern I am sure every digital artist reading this article has gone through. 

We are tied to our gadgets to get our work done. We are extremely dependent on them, without the gadget, no artwork is possible.

In the case of power shortages or battery discharges, our art creating process can be interrupted or tampered. 

The Experience is Diminished 

If we think of traditional art vs digital art, we already know as an artist that one gets more involved with traditional art. 

This again has to do with technology aiding you to create the artwork in mind. Whereas in traditional art, it is just you and the canvas. 

Almost like a love affair, right? The experience becomes very intimate! 

Artwork that is Lifeless

Digital artwork is always done on virtual screens and platforms. This is also why sometimes artists find it difficult to connect with their art. 

Even as art admirers, it is possible that digital art may not be your cup of tea! You may find it boring or without life.

Too Much Exposure to Screens 

This comes without saying! How many of you had to take a break from the screens because of staring at it for hours doing your art? 

Long exposure to screens is inevitable when it comes to making digital. There is always a risk of straining your eyes and getting yourself a headache! 

Technical Difficulties 

Yes, that’s right! You are not alone if you’re struggling with your gadgets and digital tools. Not everyone is a tech savvy person, nor should you need to be an artist. 

When it comes to making digital art, facing technical difficulties is inevitable. This can often be overwhelming for artists who are just trying to create the vision they have in mind. 

Easily Plagiarized or Robbed 

If you would ask me what’s the worst thing artists have to face while doing digital art, it would be the fact that plagiarism becomes so easy! 

Being able to make duplicates with just a click does have its advantages. The downside of this is also how easily your artwork can be robbed. 

The digital world is not always a safe space, and that includes even for your artwork! 

So Who Wins in the Ultimate Debate?

A woman with a thinking face with traditional art and digital art on either sides of her.

So, what’s the verdict? Who do you think won the traditional art vs digital art debate? It’s not easy to reach a conclusion, right? And why do you think this is the issue? 

I will tell you why! It is because both traditional and digital art have their own uniqueness and advantages. Even if an artist is leaning towards one of  these art styles, you have the agency to combine them both. 

Now that you know about the advantages and disadvantages of both art styles, you can choose to pick the pros of both and combine them!  

We call this combination Hybrid Art. But what exactly is hybrid art? Find out more below!

Approaching Hybrid Art: What is it Exactly?

An example of hybrid art, where a screen shows a woman recording herself doing traditional art while also taking the help of digital tools.

Hybrid art is a contemporary form of art, where traditional art and digital art come together to create something unique and extraordinary. Have you ever tried this kind of art? 

I am here to tell you that now you can have the best of both worlds! Yes, hybrid art is one of the best ways to produce art which can be an exemplary piece of uniqueness! 

Are you wondering how this can be done? Worry not, because this is exactly what we do here at PortraitFlip. You are on the right page to best understand what hybrid art is and how it works! 

The Art of Combining the Traditional and Digital

An example of a compilation portrait, where a child's portrait is added with three other men using traditional art.

Our skilled artists at PortraitFlip are experts in creating this combination of contemporary art. Combining the traditional with the modern! 

Our in-house artists are all excellent in the work they do. They practice traditional art, but they also have some help with digital tools. You want to know how?

At PortraitFlip, we take any photos submitted to us, even if they are old and blurred. These photos are first edited using some digital tools and editing software. Especially for old and faded photos, and for those who want a combination of different characters in the same frame. 

Now do you see how digital art plays an important role here? After these edits are made, then the artists proceed to do their magic and create the most beautiful portrait paintings! 

Get to Know Our Process

Need a step by step elaboration? Here you go: 

  • You have a vision in mind and you send your photo(s) to us, along with a detailed suggestion of how exactly you want the portrait. 
  • Second step is when we implement our digital tools to make the required changes you need. These changes could be changing the background, combining different people (or pets) in the same frame, or even morph certain images! 
  • Our in-house graphic designers use their wondrous skills to provide the changes you need and deliver the result. The edited images will be sent back to you for your approval or any further suggestions. Digital art is used here! 
  • Once we have your approval. Our artists get to work in creating the most intimate piece you have ever come across. They complete the task given to them in a short period of time, depending on the chosen portrait medium. These artists use traditional art here! 
  • Now all that you need to do is sit back and wait white your custom made portrait, made with hybrid art, is shipped to your address.

Some of the options for hybrid art portraits that you can try out are;

Due to this combination of the traditional and digital art styles, we are able to create timeless art that is known for stirring emotions! 

Can the Middle Ground Work in the Longer Run?

A woman using both traditional and digital tools to make art.

Definitely! In fact, if the forces of traditional art vs digital art start seeing the benefits of this hybrid art, there would be no debate in the first place.  

When it comes to hybrid art, it is beneficial in the longer run because we are making use of digital tools, but the medium remains to be traditional. 

You do not miss out on the authenticity that comes with traditional art. At the same time you have a portrait that is one of a kind and extremely intimate, thanks to digital art! 

Will Digital Art Replace Traditional Art Completely? 

A confused woman artist staring at a blank canvas.

I understand that this is a fear that every traditional artist endures! It is not that we are completely against digital ary, but we cannot bear to lose traditional art, ain’t it? 

Every artist starts with traditional art, and keeps coming back to it in their life span, and not necessarily through paintings and portraits. 

Artists will always find a way to come back to traditional art even if everything around them is digitalized! 

Don’t you also think that we, as artists, have a huge role to play in this too? Of course, we do! 

I for sure know that I am not going to let go of traditional art, because there is nothing that gives me joy like traditional art does. 

We can always choose to incorporate digital art with traditional art, but that definitely does not mean a replacement. 

Art imitates life, and life imitates art. 

Art has always been a form of human expression, right from the cave men’s time.

 Later we had movements like the “Abstract Expressionism” in the 1920s, which focused on independent thought  of the artist and liberty to express freely.  

Art is a language spoken by so many around the globe. It cannot just get diminished like that.

I believe that art will live on because I believe in the art I do and the artists around me. 

What we can do as artists is to learn both art styles and produce reflections and expressions of ourselves through art!

Greetings from the Writer

Hola Readers! 

It gives me immense pleasure to find you on our page. Thank you so much for spending your time reading my article. 

I hope you have reached a conclusion regarding the famous debate of traditional art vs digital art. If not? Just combine the both and relish the beauty of hybrid art! 

I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. You can also reach us out on our Youtube and Instagram pages. Don’t forget to subscribe! 

See you on the next one.

Cheers xx

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean by Hybrid Art?

Hybrid art is a contemporary form of art where you combine both traditional and digital art styles to create something unique.

What kind of art should I choose to create a family portrait?

You can use our custom made portrait making service here at PortraitFlip, which uses both traditional and digital art, that is, hybrid art, to create your portrait.

Which is the cheaper alternative for tools and materials – digital art or traditional art?

Digital gadgets and tools can be way more expensive than traditional art tools. That said, with digital tools, it is mostly always a one-time investment for at least a good few years. On the other hand, you will need to keep buying materials whenever they are out of stock. So considering the longer run, digital tools would be more appropriate. 

2 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Traditional Art vs. Digital Art (2024 Updated)

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