The Influence of Technology on Artists

By Parisa Shademan

Rapid development in digital technology has had a significant influence on contemporary art. The horizons of creativity and the tools that an artist could use to execute their concept have expanded by this development. Now the artist spends less time on execution and more time on thinking, creativity and developing ideas.

But this broad variety of options and new tools could be dangerous and have a negative influence on an artist, as they might be overwhelmed and confused. Before the tools were limited and they knew how to execute their concepts. Now they might be puzzled and their creativity might die out.

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Developing new ideas is more challenging than ever now as the artist needs to stretch their imagination to succeed.  The traditional artist used to use brush and pencil with a human touch to create and execute their art and they were in control of color and shade. On the other hand, the artist today uses computers and their work lacks the human touch. Instead the tools and ways of execution of their art is limitless and they can create anything beyond imagination. Sometimes artists today can create a piece of art just by chance, which has never been possible with traditional tools.

Over the last years, visual art has been affected by computer graphics. Now the artist can do their entire work on a computer. Computers allows artists to move from paper to screens completely, however artists still prefer to do the sketch on paper then use the graphics software to create the final effect so their art doesn’t lack the human touch anymore.

Although some traditional artists think that they might lose the organic feel of art by using digital technology so they never embrace digital at all. Also they believe one does not need to be a talented artist to create art in a digital world, but successful digital artists have found that traditional skills are still needed to execute a creative idea perfectly with computer graphics.


Erik Johansson, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Computer Graphics And Digital Art

When it comes to digital art and technology, 3d graphics software, like Maya or 3DS Max, have broken the boundaries even more by making it possible to create a piece of art which is not possible to do on a paper canvas. This type of software is heavily used in advertisement, gaming and to create 3d animated movies.


Autodesk Maya

The movie industry and animation studios are using digital media and art to save time as it is faster and they can use 3D technology which is becoming more popular. The push for more 3-D animated movies led to “Disney” closing all its 2-D animation studios at one point. (The Pixar Story)

On the other hand, digital artists, coming from traditional backgrounds, believe traditional arts have a unique impact on the artist in a digital world.  Still many people don’t accept digital technology as a form of art, just like photography in its early days which was rejected by many artists as a form of art.

“While many people still do not believe that computer arts is a real art that is similar to painting and sculpture, computer graphics software and tools have been developed through the years to give more capabilities to artists to visualize their ideas in a digitalized way. These people’s opinions remind me of the old days when cameras were first invented and how people criticized it, refusing to admit it was a new field of art.  It is more like a fear of the new tool than simply rejecting it.” (Elmansy)


Life of Pi

Different forms of arts are all related to each other, they just use different tools and digital media is just another tool for creating art, just like brushes and pencils in traditional days. Visualizing ideas has never been easier. Traditional tools could limit an artist’s workflow due to the restrictions of their medium, but with the rapid development of technology and new features in graphics software, there is no limitation for an artist’s imagination as they can execute all their ideas if they learn how to use digital tools.

Adobe Illustrator, for instance, has made it possible to create vector-based objects using brushes that have a traditional look, which is resolution-free, and can be edited easily. These days the artist is not even limited by print size, since with vector based artwork they can print their art as big as they need it.


Sabine Reinhart. Adobe Illustrator CS6.

In my opinion, traditional arts and digital arts are not competing against each other. They are just different forms of art and digital art is a form of traditional art. Like photography, which is different from painting, they both are considered as art. Although having a basic knowledge about traditional art, color, shades, balance etc… could help the artists to execute their ideas better in a digital world. Traditional art and digital art complement each other and learning them both, side-by-side, could improve the artist’s work.

Digital Technology And Graphic Design

Most of the people say they can’t live without digital technology and it has become an important part of their daily lives. Graphic design, just like every other thing, has been influenced by technology greatly.

Graphic design was all about sketching, mockups, colors etc… all by hand. To create a design in a perfect way, the designer had to dedicate a lot more time and effort to it. With digital technology, everything is faster and easier. The designers can easily scan and print their work. Communicating and getting ideas from other people and designers is a lot easier as well.


But again, it’s not the tools that make one an artist. Art comes from thoughts and ideas. Computer graphics can’t make people creative. Good graphic designers use traditional sketching, then by using the digital tools, they execute their ideas. Everything might be easier and faster but it is not complete without the knowledge and ideas.

Digital technology has affected traditional graphic design and improved it. Internet and communication, social media and being in contact with other designers around the world, as well as using and sharing same digital methods and tools around the world to create art, have improved the quality of graphic design and advertisement. It’s a lot easier and faster to show the final work to the client and changing and editing it is just as easy and fast.

“Now, instead of a mass audience consuming media from a single source, we have multiple sources, multiple channels and multiple audiences. Every participant is potentially a sender as well as a receiver of information, and the barrier to entry is no longer the fortune required to set up a TV station or a newspaper, but the price of a PC and an Internet connection. Much of contemporary political graphics in particular is designed with the internet in mind…with the steady growth of broadband connection, a full-color poster can be created as a digital file small enough either to send by email or to download from a website set up for the purpose, and printed by the recipient in as many copies as necessary or simply passed on digitally.” (Moore)

Digital Photography

One of the greatest impacts of digital art is on Photography. Moving from 35mm film and cameras to digital photography has been a huge change and it has affected the art of photography immensely.

Previous to the invention of digital cameras, photographers couldn’t see their photos until it had been developed and they could only guess and rely on their techniques and knowledge to take a good shot. These days, with digital cameras, photography has become much easier and anyone can take a photo. Although taking a good photo is not easy.


Benjamin Delacour, Strasbourg, France

Traditional photography and digital photography complement each other. The photographer still needs the knowledge and creativity to see the potential scene and photograph it in an artistic way. The main change is that it has just become faster, and easier, to shoot and see the final result.

The greater impact of digital photography, on the other hand, is on society and not the photographer. With the availability of cameras everywhere, almost everyone has a camera and nothing from around the world can remain secret anymore, as people take photos everywhere, all the time, and share them on the Internet. Anyone could be a documentary photographer these days and among all these cameras and everyday shots, being a professional photographer is not easy.


Alberto Seveso, Rome, Italy.

Photographs are easily taken and easily deleted. Photos had more value in the old days, but now it’s so easy for everyone to take photos that the professional photographer, as an artist, might be lost and it would be hard for them to find their way through all the amateurs. At the same time, if they use their knowledge of photography and traditional art, and combine it with digital technology, the art will be perfect and valuable.


Digital Technology And My Art

For me, as a photographer and graphic designer, I can’t even imagine a day without computer graphics and software. Students these days learn a combination of traditional art and digital technology at the same time in a way that it is hard to separate them from each other. The rules and basics of art are all the same, although ways of executing ideas have changed a lot.


Parisa Shademan

Now my canvas is my screen and instead of real brushes I use brushes in software. Instead of retouching negatives in a darkroom, I edit and retouch my digital photos in software like Lightroom. The ideas and creativity belong to the artist, only the tools for executing them have changed.


Parisa Shademan


Digital art has many pros and cons however there is no definite answer that indicates whether it is good or bad. By moving the world towards digitalization, it is impossible to keep art in its traditional form. Transition is inevitable.

Digital art is no longer a new separate field but it’s a part of traditional art.  It is helping the artist by providing more, and better, tools for executing their ideas. There’s no limitation for an artist in digital art. They can bring to life all that they can imagine.

If artists learn to combine their traditional skills with digital technology, their art would be more valuable and original. Also it is faster and easier to communicate and share ideas through social media and the internet, which have a great impact on art and artists.

Graphic designers, photographers, painters and all other artists are affected by digital technology and if they use their traditional art and skills and bring them into digital art, they’ll step into a new limitless world to execute their original ideas.


Davison, Max. Impact of Digital Imaging on Fine Art Teaching and Practice. Staffordshire University. Web
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Elmansy, Rafiq. Traditional vs. Digital Arts. 2011. Web
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Iwerks, Leslie. The Pixar Story. 2007. Documentary

Kenyon, Nicholas. Digital Technology and the arts: All the World’s a Screen. London: The Guardian, 2009. Print

Mcelwee, Sharon. How Has the Internet Changed Graphic Design?. Web
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Moore, Colin. A History of Art in the Service of Social and Political Change. London: A+B Books, 2011. Print

Poole, David. Digital Transitions and the Impact of New Technology on the Arts. Canada: CPAF. 2011.

Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Torture of Others. New York: The New York Times, 2004. Print

Sontag, Susan. On Photography. New York: Delta, 1973. Print