As a digital artist, I’ve spent the last couple of years arguing for the value of digital art and saying, "JPEGs are art too!" But recently, I've had my faith in digital things shaken, or rather, I've been reminded of how important physical things are. This change happened after we showed pieces from our Bueno and Humankind collections at four art shows in Paris, Copenhagen, Madrid, and New York (humble brag).
During these exhibitions, I rediscovered the power of the tangible, the charm of the physical, and the magic of stepping away from the screen. I guess pixels on a screen don’t have the same je ne sais quoi as seeing actual physical artwork. Who knew?
It’s not that I’ve abandoned my love for digital art—far from it. However, it was dope to see our creations come to life in the real world, hanging on walls and being admired by people who could touch, smell (smell?), and experience them alongside others. It was like stepping back in time before screens dictated our lives and relationships. It made me think, Holy shit. It's on a wall, so…that’s real art. I'm an artist, yo!
And I’m not alone in this yearning for the tangible. Vinyl records have seen a resurgence, which highlights the growing desire for physical experiences in our increasingly digital world. In 2020, vinyl record sales surpassed CD sales for the first time since the 1980s. We all crave a more analog way of getting stuff.
Renowned artist and designer James Victore argues that tangible experiences provide a unique sense of texture, warmth, and authenticity that digital mediums cannot match. He says that when you hold a beautifully crafted object or stand before an impressive piece of art, an emotional connection transcends the screen.
So, fellow designers, I wonder, how can we be part of this rebellion against the purely digital? How can we bring back the beauty of the physical and slow down this accelerated technological progress coming out of nowhere?
I encourage us to create physical versions of our digital art and display them on walls. Find a printer near you and print that cool composition on your Figma, Illustrator, or Procreate file. Just print it and make it big. As big as they can. Then put it on a wall next to a plant or something cute, make some glue, and put it on the streets. Let’s remind ourselves to appreciate a freshly printed poster, a newly painted canvas, or a wall with our dripping spray paint. The world beyond our screens is waiting, and it’s time to answer the call.