Following the path of digitalization in Slovenia and Europe: How does digitalisation affect the arts?

In today’s world, almost everything is digitised. Instead of posted letters, we have e-mail. We also use smartphones to communicate, by which we can take a series of digital photos and videos, which we can then show to others using social networks.

While we admire the latest advances in phones or computers, digitisation has also made its way into a completely different area, namely art. Digital art may be closer, especially to the younger generations who are growing up with digitisation, and like e-books, art is more comparable to them in this form.

Digital art, also called computer art or new media art, refers to art made using software, computers, or other electronic devices. This includes anything made on digital media, such as animations, photographs, illustrations, videos, digital paintings, etc.

As with traditional art, we also know different types of digital art artworks

Digital artwork can be “drawn” using a drawing tablet and digital pen (stylus), or a mouse. Such digital creation imitates traditional painting, such as using oil, acrylic or watercolour paints.

Digital art is created on digital media using software and hardware. Photo source: Shutterstock.
Digital art is created on digital media using software and hardware. Photo source: Shutterstock.

The artist moves the stylus over the tablet similarly as he would move a brush over the canvas. The software then interprets this movement on the computer as a digital brushstroke on a digital canvas formed of so-called pixels. The artist can also change the colour or painting technique through the software.

Another type of digital art is vector art, which is created using vector technology. The main advantage is that the final image, made with vectors, can be resized to as big or as small as desired, and it will not blur or lose quality.

This is because vector work consists of individual points that the software connects with lines and shapes. The artist can then manipulate the straightness or curve of that line and fill the shapes with solid colours or gradients. Vector images are often used for logos or other graphic elements, as well as for printing on textiles and the like.

With the help of this technology, some artists also create so-called “infinite stories”. It is a work of art in which we always discover new images by zooming in or out.

An excellent example of an infinite story can be seen in this video posted on Twitter, where one can first see an illustration of a person drawing on paper. Still, when the artist zooms in on a photo hanging on the wall, we discover an entirely new element. The next part is then hidden in the window, the next in the camera lens, and so on.

Vector artwork in which many elements are hidden. Photo source: Twitter, Vaskange.
Vector artwork in which many elements are hidden. Photo source: Twitter, Vaskange.

Slightly older is the Zoomquilt project, which arose due to the digital art group iCE, whose members created an artwork collaborative on the internet 20 years ago. On the platform, artists created tiles or paintings by using the edges of adjacent tiles made by others as frames.

Other artists tackle 3D modelling, where they also designate the points in a digital 3D canvas, which the software will draw lines and planes between. Such planes then form a ‘mesh’, and the artist can freely manipulate and create planes to craft a mesh to look like the desired three-dimensional object. The final object or work can also be animated.

A bit different is 3D sculpting, where the artist starts with a simple block of digital clay, which he can then push and pull into the desired shape. 3D sculpting is often used to sculpt characters that can then appear in animated works.

Digital art has also found its place in the world of cryptocurrencies in the form of so-called Non-fungible tokens or NFTs. NFT tokens are digital goods that come in the form of thumbnails, songs, video content, animations, and the like. Some collect them in precisely the same way as works of art, while others buy them intending to sell them for more money sometime later.

Digital art brings various advantages and disadvantages. Photo source: Eden Gallery.
Digital art brings various advantages and disadvantages. Photo source: Eden Gallery.

Advantages and disadvantages of digital art

Digital art naturally brings various advantages and disadvantages, some of which are more obvious and others a little less so.

One more obvious disadvantage is that digital art doesn’t have an original copy, or it’s hard to prove whose it is. NFT tokens have fixed this somewhat, as each NFT is essentially a unique code that cannot be copied.

However, this does not apply to those digital artworks that are not NFTs. Works can be copied and saved to your computer with only a few clicks. Of course, it is possible to forge traditional works of art as well, but it is much more complicated and takes more time. Because of this, physical artwork is often worth more than digital or printed work.

On the other hand, there is also an advantage hidden in this. If an artist would like to duplicate an artwork, he can do so much easier in the digital world than in the physical world. This means that digital art is much more suited for client work.

Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that traditional artistic creation requires a lot of materials and tools. In digital art, we may need quite expensive software and hardware, but later we just need electricity and a good idea. So, the artist will not run out of space on the canvas or paint on the palette.

The impact of the Digital Art on the current job market

In 2021, a survey was conducted in the United States in which they wanted to find out how the increasing popularity of digital art impacts the employment of artists.

With digital art, paint won't run out, and brushes won't get destroyed. Photo source: Skillshare.
With digital art, paint won’t run out, and brushes won’t get destroyed. Photo source: Skillshare.

The job market for digital artists is not small, the researchers found. In the period of study, there were, on average, about 75,000 artist jobs with salaries above 60,000 USD advertised on LinkedIn.

Among these jobs, about 33 per cent are higher-paid jobs with a salary above 100,000 USD. Analysis of the data on job functions showed that the majority (65 per cent) of the artist jobs are related to information technology or digital art. The most popular artist jobs are related to graphics.

The majority (85 per cent) of artist jobs with a salary over 60,000 USD are digital artist jobs available in the information technology, marketing, and entertainment industries.

These jobs are all over the country, not just around economic centres such as New York City, Los Angeles or major IT cities such as San Francisco or Seattle.

The findings noted that the total number of artist jobs in the US during the research period was much larger than the number retrieved from the previous reports (Writers, 2020; Dowd, 2020). The number of artist jobs, especially digital ones, is increasing over time. These art jobs are also decent and well paid, so there is no need for a second job.

Is digital art real art?

The question arises for many people, is digital art considered real art? The final work may not really be an actual physical product that you can hold in your hands, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t art.

Digital artistic creation requires the same creative techniques and skills as traditional art. Making good quality digital art requires the same amount of skill, talent, originality, knowledge, and effort as any other traditional art piece.

Every artist must learn to master their tools regardless of the medium. According to the Eden Gallery, the primary purpose of art is to express the artist’s emotions irrespective of the medium used.

Author: Marko Želko

Keywords: digitisation, digital art, creation, artwork.


This article is part of joint project of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies and the Anton Korošec Institute (INAK) Following the path of digitalization in Slovenia and Europe. This project receives funding from the European Parliament. 

The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union institutions/Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies/ Anton Korošec Institute. Organizations mentioned above assume no responsibility for facts or opinions expressed in this article or any subsequent use of the information contained therein.