Will technologies be able to prevent traditional art from being replaced?
Since the start of the digital world, many traditional activities have tried to be substituted by technological versions of them. This is, in between others, the case of traditional art, which is facing numerous challenges not to be replaced by digital art. Some of these are mentioned below, but, can these be solved by using those technologies that are trying to replace art?
Whilst in digital art, all the material needed is a device with a suitable program, when doing traditional art, a lot more material is needed. From paint to a canvas, plaster, and brushes, depending on the type of art, this raises the amount of money needed, because the products are consumable, unlike in the digital form, in which you only need to spend money once. Moreover, mistakes cannot be undone, only covered, so that it is very complex to obtain a good result because of the large probability of error.
Money earned and jobs
Furthermore, the money earned is less than the one in the new version of art. If the design is not qualified as trendy or does not become known, its value will be reduced, in many cases being less than the amount spent on the materials. These challenges make artists work as something else, because no money is earned, or no benefits are obtained. On top of this, new art-related jobs have emerged; these include graphic designers, podcast producers, and content creators, not benefiting the existence of traditional artists.
Moreover, digital art can be accessed easily on the Internet, but its classical form is usually only in museums or galleries. Attending these is not a very common activity between the population, with around 50% of England’s citizens not having attended any museum in 2019.
Increasing art presence online
In terms of this, the current pandemic has benefited the traditional art sector. According to Statista, 20% of the UK population attended an online art experience during 2020, which I consider a big increase.
From my point of view, marketing strategies such as advertising can also raise attendance to museums. It is not very common to see art-related ads, and focusing on them can probably benefit the sector.
Finally, to overcome the lack of sales and the difficulties for the pieces of art and artists to be known, social media has been used. Instagram has been the most used platform for this in 2019, and its use for these purposes has risen in the last years.
In terms of the reproduction process, a piece of traditional art is quite difficult to share, post on the Internet, and make known. It involves scanning, or professional photographing so that it accurately represents reality, a challenge that is non-existent in the case of a digital piece, where the design is already in a digital form and can be directly shared or printed.
According to Statista, museums are increasingly solving this, by 71% of them posting content that is freely accessible on different platforms, 69% digitizing collections, 50% publishing content into their website, and 56% making existing recordings and archived material available for digital consumption. In my opinion, this can attract a lot of people, especially because you can access it from home without needing to go anywhere else.
Besides this, time is a limiting factor in some characteristics. Not having enough time to create is quite frequent — not many people have time in their daily life to spend a few hours in art. Moreover, traditional art involves dirtying the space where it is done, with oils, paint, or plaster in between others, and its posterior cleaning. Also, the impossibility of doing it anywhere — in transports, or when waiting for somebody — reduces, even more, the time available.
Online art during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has positively affected this, according to Statista research. Having to stay at home, more time is available, and 26% of the UK population attended an online lesson of some kind of art — including painting but also choir rehearsals — during 2019. Despite this percentage not being exclusive for art, it shows that when having enough time, quite a large number of people is willing to invest some in doing art. This again backs up to the idea of having access to online art, so that it can be accessed from anywhere, at any time.
Despite what might be thought about the replacement of traditional art, technologies are being widely used to prevent this from happening. Without going any further, the online art market has grown in the last years, reaching £48.07 billion in 2018 worldwide. In my opinion, the effort being made will be worth it, as many positive results are showing the effectiveness of these methods. It is undoubtedly that traditional art is very different from the digital form, and all the previous evidence shows that it will not be replaced at least in the short-term future.