‘Handmade’ art vs Digital Art

African Woman, copyright Marja Sterenborg

African Woman, copyright image Marja Sterenborg

Some creatives proclaim the old-school, hand-crafted techniques are challenged by today’s most advanced digital technology. I would like to investigate and question today’s shift of graphic designers and other creatives towards using traditional art skills instead of the computer. Some traditional artists feel that the use of computers in art is useless.

To be honest with you, I love my Mac and use it as a tool quite often in my prints- and mixed media artwork. But I’ve also come to realize that some artists I encounter, genuinly dislike the fact that many of the art that’s published nowadays is less solely handpainted, or handcrafted and more and more digitally produced. After dwelling on this and discussing it with my partner, we got worked up over the value of “handmade.” What exactly is ‘handmade’, what do we consider to be ‘handmade’,…. really. My partners’ main reason for preferring “handmade'” (which he defines as not being able to create exact replicas of the same item) over digital, is the idea that the handmade item is really unique.

I myself feel that it is not a battle between the two disciplines and that each of these tools or techniques enriched the other. However my partner disagreed violently. I see the word ‘handmade’ as a term. If someone uses a sewing machine instead of sewing a garment by hand, is it hand- or machine-made?

The same with handmade art, someone had to take the time to create each and every detail. It required conscious thought while doing it, and then each piece is subtly different. I also value what can be done with today’s technology. I think there is as much craft involved in making something digitally as there is in making something by hand. After all, hands and computers are just tools, a means to an end. Digital artwork and crafts are both about the creator’s choices and skills as much as work done by hand.
I think both tools can be seen as ‘handmade’. I make digital art and I consider it a form of handmade art. I choose to think of my work as “individually produced”, as a ‘one-of-a-kind’ art pieces, even though I use the computer (among other things) in the production process. Just because I don’t paint my pieces solely by hand, does not make them any less handmade. It takes a lot of time and a different set of intense skills than painting or drawing by hand.
I myself have an Etsy Shop and consider my work to be a 100% handmade. I sell some of my work there and it is perceived as handmade at the Etsy platform aswell.
Although I can’t repeat the discussion we had exactly, I would like to know what you have to say on the subject: ‘Do you think authentic ‘handmade’ work is better, just for the sake of sentimentality’? Or, do you prefer digital artwork over handmade? And if so,…..why?
Copyright image Marja Sterenborg | Behance.com

3 thoughts on “‘Handmade’ art vs Digital Art

  1. Hi, I’m trained in a multitude of media ranging from pencil, to air brush, to oil and many more. I love all of them. Yet, though acutally self taught in photoshop and illustrator I currently work more in this media more than any other. I love it as much as the others. I find it just as challenginig as any other tool, if not more so. And thus more fun. Dgital art can be and often is every bit as handmade as other media. One can control every aspect of his image. One can manipulate every “stroke” and select every color specifically. Nothing is has be left uncontrolled (unless one chooses to do so – which I sometimes do to regain some freshness and spontaneity). The only difference between this and other “traditional” media is that this one lends itself more readily to photographic reproduction.

    PS, would love to know what you think of my digital work. you may view a small sampling at troyeittreim.wordpress.com
    Troy Eittreim

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