Traditional vs Digital Art: Pros and Cons for Artists
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. What is Traditional Art?
  2. Pros of Traditional Art
  3. Cons of Traditional Art
  4. What is Digital Art?
  5. Pros of Digital Art
  6. Cons of Digital Art
  7. Which is Better for Artists?

Art has its own language that speaks to our hearts and minds. It comes in many forms, one of the most significant divisions being traditional and digital. In today's world, both forms hold their own unique place, each offering artists a different set of tools and experiences. As an artist, you might find yourself wondering about the pros and cons of traditional vs digital art. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just beginning your artistic journey, understanding the benefits and challenges of both mediums can be fundamental to your growth and development. So, let's delve into the world of art and discover what each medium has to offer.

What is Traditional Art?

Traditional art is the type of art you probably grew up with. It's the stuff of sketchbooks and canvases, colored pencils and paintbrushes. This medium is all about getting your hands dirty—quite literally—in the process of creation. You can touch the materials, feel the textures, and experience the tactile satisfaction of watching your vision come to life on the canvas or paper. It's the art form of the greats, from Van Gogh's swirling starry night to Da Vinci's mysterious Mona Lisa.

When we talk about traditional art, we generally mean:

  • Painting: Using oil, acrylic, watercolor, or tempera paints on canvas or paper.
  • Drawing: Using pencils, charcoal, pastels, or pens on paper to capture shapes and forms.
  • Sculpture: Creating 3D forms using materials like clay, stone, wood, or metal.
  • Printmaking: Producing images by etching, lithography, woodcut, or screen printing.
  • Photography: Using a camera and film to capture images, which are then developed in a darkroom.

Traditional art is tangible, physical, and often times, one-of-a-kind. It allows artists to connect with their work on a deeply personal level. But like anything else, it has its pros and cons, which we'll explore in the next section.

Pros of Traditional Art

Traditional art has been around for centuries, and for good reason. Here's a look at some of the benefits it offers:

  • Physicality: There's something special about holding a brush in your hand, feeling the paper beneath your fingertips, and seeing your creation come to life in front of you. This physical interaction can make the artistic process more intimate and rewarding.
  • Authenticity: Traditional art pieces are unique. They can't be perfectly replicated, which gives them a certain charm and value. This authenticity can be a big draw for art lovers and collectors.
  • No Tech Required: You don't need expensive software or a high-powered computer to create traditional art. All you need are your materials and your imagination. This makes it more accessible to many people.
  • Longevity: Traditional artworks can last for centuries if they're properly cared for. Think of the paintings in museums that are hundreds of years old. Your art could potentially be a piece of history!

These are just a few advantages of traditional art. It's a medium that allows you to engage with your work in a tactile and personal way. But as with anything, it has its downsides too. Let's take a look at some of the challenges you might face with traditional art.

Cons of Traditional Art

While traditional art has its charms, it also comes with a few challenges. Here are some things to consider:

  • Expense: Buying brushes, paints, canvases and other art supplies can add up over time. This can make traditional art a costly pursuit, especially for those just starting out.
  • Space: Unlike digital art, traditional art requires physical space. You need somewhere to store your materials and completed works. This can be a problem if you're short on room.
  • Mistakes are Permanent: If you make a mistake in a traditional artwork, it can be tough to correct. You can't just hit 'undo' like in digital art. This can add to the pressure of getting it right the first time.
  • Time-Consuming: Traditional art can be a slow process. You have to wait for paint to dry or clay to harden. If you're impatient, this can be a bit frustrating.

These are some of the challenges you might face with traditional art. However, it's important to remember that these are not necessarily negatives—just factors to consider in your artistic journey. After all, overcoming challenges is part of what makes creating art so fulfilling.

What is Digital Art?

It's time to switch gears and step into the world of pixels and software. What is digital art, you ask? Digital art is a modern form of art that uses technological tools and software to create art pieces. Instead of paintbrushes and canvases, digital artists use styluses, graphic tablets, and computers to bring their visions to life.

Just like traditional art, digital art comes in many forms. You might have seen digital illustrations, animations, 3D modeling, and even virtual reality art. These are all examples of digital art. The beauty of digital art is that it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. You can experiment with a range of styles, techniques and effects that would be challenging, if not impossible, to achieve with traditional tools.

However, remember, the medium doesn't make the artist. Whether you're using a pencil or a stylus, it's your creativity and vision that brings art to life.

Pros of Digital Art

Now that we have a grasp on what digital art is, let's dive into the pros of this modern form of artistry.

1. Endless Possibilities: Digital art offers an infinite range of creative possibilities. You can explore a palette of over a million colors, use a multitude of brushes and effects, and even create 3D models. All from the comfort of your computer.

2. Easy to Correct and Refine: Made a mistake? No worries! One of the biggest pros of digital art is the ease of fixing errors. Using features like undo, erase or layers, you can easily tweak or correct your work without damaging the rest of your piece. This ease of correction can be a major advantage for artists who like to experiment and refine their work.

3. Cost-Effective in the Long Run: Although the initial investment for digital art tools can be high, in the long run, it can be quite cost-effective. You don't need to constantly buy art supplies like paper, paint or brushes. All you need is your graphic tablet and software, which do not run out or wear off.

4. Easy Sharing and Distribution: In the digital world, sharing your artwork with the world is just a click away. You can easily distribute your digital artwork across various platforms and reach a global audience. Plus, there's no fear of your original artwork getting lost or damaged in transit.

These are just a few pros of digital art. Of course, like all art forms, digital art also has its own set of challenges. However, the flexibility and freedom it offers can be a game-changer for artists who are willing to embrace the digital medium.

Cons of Digital Art

Despite its many advantages, digital art does come with its own set of challenges. Here are a few things that might make you think twice before diving headfirst into the digital art world:

1. High Starting Costs: Getting started with digital art can be expensive. You'll need a good computer, a graphic tablet, and potentially pricey software. This initial investment can be a bit of a hurdle for those just starting out or on a tight budget.

2. Learning Curve: Digital tools can be complex and take some time to master. You'll need to learn not just the art, but also the technology. This can feel overwhelming, especially if you're more comfortable with traditional methods.

3. Lack of "Physical" Feel: There's something about the feeling of a brush against canvas or the texture of paper under your hand that digital art can't replicate. Some artists find the lack of tactile feedback a downside to creating art digitally.

4. Over-Reliance on Tools: With so many tools and effects available at your fingertips, there's a risk of over-relying on them. You might find yourself focusing too much on the tech and not enough on the art itself.

Despite these challenges, many artists find the pros of digital art far outweigh the cons. It's all about finding what works best for you. Which is better for artists, traditional or digital art? The answer is subjective and greatly depends on the individual artist's preferences, style, and goals.

Which is Better for Artists?

When it comes to choosing between traditional and digital art, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. It's a personal decision that depends on a variety of factors.

If you're a fan of hands-on work, enjoy the feel of a brush on canvas, and value the permanence of your creation, you might lean towards traditional art. It's a world rich in history and tactile experience, offering a tangible connection to your work. However, remember that it can be time-consuming, messy, and offers less flexibility when it comes to editing and sharing your work.

On the other hand, if you're tech-savvy and appreciate the convenience of digital tools, digital art might be your choice. It allows for endless experimentation without wasting materials, and you can easily share your work with the world. However, it does come with a steeper learning curve and an initial cost that can be quite high.

Ultimately, the decision between traditional and digital art comes down to personal preference and the direction you want to take your art. Maybe you'll find joy in the texture of a paintbrush, or perhaps you'll be captivated by the endless possibilities of a digital canvas. Either way, the most important thing is to keep creating, experimenting, and finding what brings you the most satisfaction in your artistic journey.

If you enjoyed exploring the pros and cons of traditional and digital art, you might also be interested in weighing the advantages and disadvantages of attending art school. Check out the workshop 'Was it Worth it? The Pros and Cons of Art School' by Faira. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and advice on how to make the most of your art school experience, whether you're leaning towards traditional or digital art.