The Digital Art Debate: A Lesser Art Form?

Morgan Bland

Edward Phelan’s article, “The Digital Art Debate: A Lesser Art Form?” (2014) claims digital art and traditional art can coexist in the form of digital art prints. Phelan supports his argument by outlining the difference between the art forms, discussing the opposing viewpoints of real artists in the debate between digital and traditional art, and describing the digital print process requiring both hand-draw work and online tools. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that digital art is a competent art form and clarify that traditional and digital art are not always opponents, they can work together and enhance each other. Phelan provides basic definitions, background information, and uses plain language throughout the article this suggests the intended audience is artists and art lovers who would want to get more involved in the argument.

Personally, I appreciate Phelan’s idea, not only are they equal in ranking, but they work together to create something that everyone can enjoy. Recently I commented on a fellow author’s post asking why traditional and digital art cannot coexist and now I am pleasantly surprised to find an example of just that. These digital prints start as hand drawn designs and move to the computer, which is very innovative in a way. Technology seamlessly assimilated into other aspects of our lives cameras allowed us to record and re-watch performances, email sends our letters instantaneously, and Google is just an expanded library accessible at every moment. All of these examples are seen as technological advances so enhancing traditional art styles shouldn’t be any different, should it? On the other hand, there is a counter-argument I think Phelan doesn’t take into account. Traditional art supporters might criticize digital art prints as cheating because after uploading your printed art you don’t just add to the work you edit the mistakes. By physically manipulating the hand drawn art it could be argued that you don’t need skill, just the right tools. I wonder, has anyone has anyone made this claim? Moreover, is this coexistence actually bringing the opposing sides together or pushing them further apart?

Phelan, Edward. “The Digital Art Debate: A Lesser Art Form?” Storify. Storify, 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.

Image: giap Art creation by dsnGiap


3 thoughts on “The Digital Art Debate: A Lesser Art Form?

  1. I agree with the authors perspective, I think that both forms could be equally valued in the world of art regardless of their differing mediums. I feel that it is difficult to compare the views of someone who has only ever worked with traditional mediums and the only way to truly understand the skill and aptitude required for digital works is to be immersed within it. Technology could have the potential to take the art world to a whole other level with creation and countless opportunities for both the artists and collectors.


  2. I value and support the claim of this author’s argument. The voice of someone who believes the two can work together to enhance one another is one that is not very often found in articles about this topic. I believe in the business and advertising world, the utilization of a graphic design program is beneficial to a hand drawn piece that has been scanned in. With the program, artists can perfect their lines and colors in order to make the product flawless for printing. Although it can be argued this is taking away skills needed for handmade design, the process creates a more quality and professional look for advertisements.
    Kaitlyn Ancell


  3. Part of me wonders if using the combination of the two could, in fact, be “cheating”. If, as other articles suggest, traditional art is innately more valuable monetarily, what is the harm in combining the mediums? I usually don’t see the argument that traditional art should be abolished, so using PhotoShop to fix mistakes on physical sketches does no harm to pen-and-paper artists. If anything, it helps newer digital artists grow or make more unique art.


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