The Digital Renaissance: Re-imagining Classic Artistry in the Age of Technology

The idyllic image of a painter, easel bathed in sunlight, is giving way to a new form. Today’s artist hunches over his laptop, frantically clicking his mouse to form perfect lines.

Computers drastically changed art in form and function, forcing modern artists to adapt. Many yearn for the simplicity of ink on canvas while others love the ease of use and instant connectivity modern programs provide.

Artists must find ways to bridge the gap to thrive in this ever-changing industry.

Technology’s Impact on Artistic Expression

Technology had a massive impact on the arts. Novice photographers can take professional quality shots in seconds with their phones, then edit them instantly with an app. Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) allow companies to create logos and images for branding with the click of a button, limiting job opportunities for artists who bought into digital trends. Fakers and hacks flood internet marketing channels with low-quality works, drowning out the talent. 

It’s not all bad news for artists, though. They no longer depend on galleries and wealthy patrons, but can now set up online shops and connect directly with customers. Livia Ochmann, artist and founder of, uses modern technology to share her passion for the arts with others. She says contemporary artists have numerous ways to earn a living from their work, including print-on-demand shops, courses, tutorial websites, affiliate programs, and sponsorships. None of these income avenues existed 30 years ago.

Technology has also changed what we consider to be art. Data scientist Kat Campbell, an expert on digital technology, says modern tools have allowed artists to create immersive experiences, making art interactive and multidimensional, and offering a host of new mediums to explore, from digital painting to 3D models.

The Case Against Digital Art

Some traditionalists, however, view digital art as an imposter, not worthy of the “art” designation. Ochmann sees the stigma in her career as an artist. “I have seen digital artists being sometimes unfairly judged,” she says, adding the common refrains include statements such as “digital art isn’t real art,” “people working in this medium are lazy,” and “anyone can do what they do.”

Critics also lament the ease of entry into the market that digital tools create. When anyone can be an artist, everyone becomes an artist, crowding the marketplace. 

“While technology makes art more accessible, it also floods the market,” explains Campbell. “Standing out amidst this digital noise becomes a challenge.”

Art and AI

Artists also express concern over AI and its potential impact on art. Illustrator Aimee Cozza explains the apprehension. 

“Professional artists are losing their jobs already to LLMs [Large Langauge Models, commonly called AI],” she says. “Many long-time artists are feeling quite uneasy about the general attitude of the internet against artists, including the fragmentation of social media and the introduction of LLMs.”

Noting the impact AI models are already having on artists, Cozza adds, “I have watched many of my professional artist friends making less money on projects and at conventions throughout the declining economy, with closures due to the pandemic wreaking havoc for many of them. Many friends have turned to picking up side jobs or have quit doing art as a full-time job entirely.”

All Forms of Expression Have Their Place

However, most artists say the judgment is unjust. “Digital artists, like us traditional artists, require a deep understanding of anatomy, perspective, and various artistic principles to create good art. The skills they employ are no less valid, and their dedication to their craft is just as genuine,” Ochmann says.

Joseph Taveras, an American roboticist-turned artist, agrees. “Drawing a line between artists who use computers/graphic design and those who stick with traditional mediums isn’t necessarily productive — it’s all art, just different forms of expression,” he says. 

Despite the stigma, most artists, even those who produce works in traditional media, use modern technology in some fashion.

Mikhail Belanovich, lead designer with CoinsPaid Media, thinks it’s silly not to take advantage of technology. “Surely it would be ridiculous to ignore technology as a phenomenon in 2023,” he says, adding that every artist should use social media to share their work. 

However, connecting with an audience is only a small part of how artists embrace modern technology.

Artists Combine Digital Technologies with Traditional Mediums

Many use a combination of traditional and digital mediums to complete their work.

Drawing tablets provide an easy way to bridge the gap. Artists can use their natural drawing ability to produce images directly on the screen, which they can then retouch or enhance as needed.

Sarajean C, an artist with leading drawing tablet manufacturer Wacom, says, “Traditional artists value being hands-on and intimate with their art. Wacom tablets allow traditional artists to maintain the quality of their work in digital form, may it be transitioning into digital art, or retouching their scanned-in pieces.”

She adds that drawing tablets enhance features in software applications that mimic traditional mediums, making these applications more accessible to classical artists.

Drawing tablets aren’t the only way to transform classical forms of expression into digital media. Ingenious artists use numerous methods of combining the two competing forms. 

Terena Bell, visual artist and writer, hand draws her work and then combines the drawing with printed photos to make a collage, using the original drawings as an underpainting. Next, she photographs the collage and uses the basic Apple Photos app to refine the lines and colors.  

Taveras uses digital resources to enhance his creativity. “I use the programs Sketch, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, and Logic Pro X in my practice to help me with conceptual research and aesthetic studies, but a majority of my artworks (98%) are physical paintings. I also use holograms, robots, and projectors to assist with the process,” he says.

Some use older technology to bridge the gap. Ochmann works with traditional mediums like pencils, colored pencils, and watercolor on paper, then uses an old scanner to turn them digital. Once there, she uses Adobe Photoshop to remove dust or blemishes before uploading them to her website.

Traditional Mediums Will Always Have a Place

Despite the rapidly changing landscape, classical forms of expression will always remain relevant, though how we interact with art may vary.

Cozza points to the most famous painting in the world as an example. “Many people do not have the means to visit the Mona Lisa in person, but with the assistance of technology converting this legendary artwork into pixels, they can enjoy the artwork from anywhere in the world,” she explains.

Belanovich says traditional artworks are just as popular as ever. “Sotheby’s hasn’t closed, and museums are up and running too. Art academies keep recruiting talented people every year,” he stressed.

Taveras explains why classical forms of expression will always have value. “There is an irreplaceable, tactile quality to physical artworks that digital forms, as of now, cannot replicate,” he says. “The weight of a brush stroke, the texture of paint on canvas — these are sacred elements that collectors, enthusiasts, and artists alike hold in high esteem.”

As Technology Evolves, So Will Artistic Expression

As humanity advances in science and technology, artists will adapt to the new forms. Artistic expression will never disappear, but new generations of artists will find innovative ways to combine technology with creativity, unveiling works that today’s patrons can’t even fathom.

However, traditional mediums will always have their place. The best artists of the future will find ways to walk between both worlds, using modern technology to enhance classical forms while expressing the essence of the human condition.

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.