Traditional v Digital

There's an argument that has been going on in the illustration fields for quite a few years now, centering around whether traditional media or digital is 'better.'

It's a bit of a silly argument, if you ask me, as it essentially always comes down to what a particular artist likes to use. It is, of course, more involved than that. Art sales and other things like the ease in which digital can aid in tracing and manipulating other artists' work to fob off as your own are interesting points.

But the crux of the issue is how people like to make art. Some artists swear by the feel of a pencil on actual paper, or the way paint moves across a canvas. Folks on the other side will say that digital can imitate any other art medium to such a degree now that only the trained eye will tell the difference.

Where do I stand?

I think no medium is better than the other. I work almost entirely digitally now, but can definitely say that the feel of a pencil on paper is hard to match. But, and here's my point about it all, I can create the same image with a digital pencil as I can with a real one. Does that make it better? No. Well... maybe. Actually, yes. Yes it does. For me anyway. Better for me.

I use an art program called Procreate, on my iPad. I take it with me to work and can draw things with it everywhere I take it. Sure, I can take a sketchbook and pencil with me and get the same result, but here's the thing, with the click of a few buttons, I'm now working in oils, or with an airbrush, or charcoal, or any number of other medium, all with the same, single tool in my hand. Traditional art can't do that. I can paint an oil painting on a bus with Procreate, but I can't do that with real paint. But for some, that is how it should be. Plenty of artists don't want to have the ability to paint in actual oils on a bus, they do that at home or in their studio! It's all about how you want to work.

The sheer ease of use that digital art programs provide, with almost limitless techniques and applications available, makes it the only way to go, for what I do. That may not be the case for other artists, which is a good thing. There is no 'better' way of making art. There is only what works best for each individual artist and what they want to produce. 

This argument crops up quite often in various groups on social media hubs. I've seen highly respected and well known artists try to deny the legitimacy of digital art, only to be shown some examples of it that they couldn't tell if it was traditional or digital. I've also heard digital artists mock the use of traditional media, as if only the elderly or fools would bother with such things anymore. They, too, got shown the error in their argument. 

I wish we could get past this discussion, if I'm honest. I think people are mistaking their own preference for actual medium superiority, when there is no superior method to actually be found. 

At the end of the day, aren't we all just trying to make the best art we can? 

Does it matter how we achieve that?

A digital sketch