Digital Vs. Analog in Art


Digital technology is engulfing all aspects of contemporary life, and the art world is no exception. Analog art forms such as painting, sculpture and film-based photography are more frequently either combined with or replaced by digital processes. Even in areas such as documentation of art, digital technology is having an impact. Many artists combine digital technology in their art process, either in creating the artwork or in using digital technology to create a finished piece, such as a giclee print.


  • Analog art is any art where the material making the art is manipulated by hand, like paint. You can control any portion of it. Digital is constituted of many individual pieces of electronic information--such as pixels, in the case of digital photography--which cannot be further broken down.

Analog Art Forms

  • Painting, sculpture, printmaking from ink and film photography are considered analog. These are the traditional fine arts, made from tangible materials that are manipulated by hand or with simple tools

Digital Art Forms

  • Online art and digital photography are digital art forms. More and more artists are incorporating the web either to make their art or distribute it. Some artworks now only exist as online entities, and have no physical presence except for what you see on the computer screen.

Combining Digital and Analog

  • Sometimes digital and analog forms are combined in the creation of a work. For example, a painting done in acrylic is scanned electronically, rendering a digital image, which can be manipulated with a photo editing program. A high-quality
    giclee print of the painting can then be printed from digital image. Some giclee prints are printed onto primed canvas to re-create the look of the original painting. Many artists use computer tools to either capture or create images which are then produced in analog form.

Documentation and Distribution

  • Artists used to have to take slides of their artwork using film cameras. This entailed shooting (and often reshooting) artworks and distributing individual slides, which were seldom projected. Digital photography makes it easier to get high-quality images and distribute them to galleries or place them online for viewing.

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