Buying And Collecting Digital Art

A complete guide to understanding, buying, and collecting digital art.

digital art

by Tanya Singh

Digital Art has been at the forefront of the new media revolution in the art world since the 1970s. From Nam Jun Paik to Christian Marclay, artists have chosen to work hand in hand with technology and science time and again. Digital art allows the artist to give their viewers a unique experience every single time due to its innovative nature, which is probably why it is becoming more and more popular every day.

digital art
Digital artist, Scott Forsyth working in his studio.

But with its growing demand and popularity, a number of logical and relevant questions are being asked by collectors and businesses alike – How can you collect digital art? How do you buy it? Does the fact that it can be duplicated make it difficult to ‘collect’? Can you have a digital art collection? Like Amy Cappellazzo, a Christie’s contemporary art expert once said, “collectors get confused and concerned about things that plug in.”

Here is a complete guide to understanding digital art and how and why you should be collecting it.

What Is Digital Art?

The term ‘digital art’ defines all the works of art that involve the use of digital technology or electronic systems as an essential part of the artistic process, presentation method or both. Works that are purely computer generated like videos and digital graphics as well as works that are only created using digital technologies like photographs and computer illustrations, all come under the digital art umbrella. In a more general sense, digital art is the form of contemporary art that engages a computing process or digital interference and can be mass produced.

However, it is important to note the difference between digital art and new media. Simply put, new media is a much wider category of contemporary works that includes all non-conventional works of art, i.e. works that do not employ traditional methods like painting and sculpture but instead are created using progressive and alternative modern technologies like 3D printing, biotechnology, and interactive art. Therefore, all digital art comes under new media but all new media works are not digital.

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digital art
Artist Rejane Dal Bello uses Google Earth satellite maps to create mesmerizing giclee prints on paper.

Types Of Digital Art

Digital art, as such is a very wide term, especially in regards to the contemporary art scene today. We have decided to club the several different types under three basic categories in order to make it easier for our readers and budding art collectors.

Digitally Produced Art

Photographs, Digital Prints, and Digital Illustrations all come under this type of digital art. These artworks employ a digital instrument, a computer, or a computer program in the creation process but the final outcome remains two-dimensional. A photograph, for example, is taken with a digital camera. The artist then works on it using a computer software like Photoshop. Finally,he or she prints it on a two-dimensional medium which can be framed just like a painting. So, essentially, the digital aspect is present only in the creative process or production but not in the presentation.

Digitally Produced And Presented Art

Video and Digital Interactive Art would be the best examples to explain this digital art category. These works are created using digital technologies and are also displayed in a similar manner. A video installation for instance, involves digital tools in both the creative process and the final display. The artist collects the raw clippings and then digitally compiles them together in the desired sequence. The resulting film, however, cannot be printed or displayed in a two-dimensional capacity. It has to be displayed on a screen or with the help of a projection instrument.

Digitally Presented Art

The third category and perhaps a comparatively uncommon one, comprises of art that is only presented using digital tools. The installation titled, Asymmetric Love Number 2 by American artist, Addie Wagenknecht, can be used to illustrate this type of digital artwork. The work is essentially a chandelier-like structure made up of CCTVs. The creative process mainly included concept development and ideation in this case. The artist did not create the CCTVs. The final presentation, however, had an evident digital component.

These three categories encompass all art that is digital. Although, a broad classification, this kind of grouping will help you to fully understand why collecting digital art is becoming popular and how you should go about it.

If you like art as much as we do, and want to be updated with the latest info about Agora Gallery, our exhibitions, and our artists, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter!

Why Should You Be Collecting Digital Art?

As the number of screens around us multiplied and virtual reality took over, it was only natural that the art world also evolved with the changing times and trends. Today, digital photography and video art are present in every gallery and on every social media platform. However, considering that the first digital works of art showed up in galleries and museums in the 1970s, the art market was a little slow to catch on. Perhaps, the reason for this was the issue of mass production or the hassle of acquiring proper equipment. Nonetheless, we overcame that initial hesitation eventually and today, almost 10% of the total art collectors globally are solely digital art collectors.

Richard and Pamela Kramlich, one of the first few digital art collectors, who started collecting art in the 1980s and now have a collection of over 60 video installations, believe that video art is the art of our time. “It’s become a second language to an entire new generation of artists,” said Pamela in an interview with Artnet.

Richard and Pamela Kramlich, one of the first few digital art collectors, who started collecting art in the 1980s and now have a collection of over 60 video installations, believe that video art is the art of our time. “It’s become a second language to an entire new generation of artists,” said Pamela in an interview with Artnet. As an art collector, one of your main priority should be keeping up with the art market and investing wisely. Digital art is the latest trend and has been for quite a while and that is exactly why you, as an emerging art collector, should be exploring this fascinating area of technology and creativity.

How To Collect Digital Art?

Now that the idea of buying a video installation or a digital print appeals to you, the next step is to understand the procedure of acquiring it. We discussed the different types of digital art earlier in the article. Out of the three, digitally produced art is fairly simple to collect. The process is the same as any other traditional work of art. You can acquire a work from a gallery or deal directly with the artist.

digital art
Sabrina, Pablo Mazza, Digital Artwork on Canvas

Things start to get tricky when digitally presented as well as digitally produced and presented works come into the picture. Often, people associate apprehensions like lack of equipment, piracy, and obsolescence with these kind of works. However, it is not as complicated as it sounds. Usually, with the advent of high-definition technologies into the market, the hardware required for digitally presented works is easily available and affordable. When it comes to piracy and obsolescence, limited editions and the adaptable nature of technology offer suitable solutions to these issues. According to Robert Bielecki, a New York based digital art collector, “While it’s technically possible to pirate video art (particularly art created in the digital age), it’s rare and I’ve never personally encountered it.” In an interview with Artsy, he also mentions that collectors who have spent thousands of dollars tend to zealously protect their collection.

Following is a list of things to note before you buy your first digitally presented work of art –

Give it time.

The best and the worst quality of video art and digital installations is the viewing time. A work like this will compel you to sit through the entire duration and direct all your attention to it. It is definitely not something you fall in love with on first sight. You need to spend time on it to really understand it and if you plan to buy it, you need to make sure that it is something you will enjoy watching again and again.

Required equipment.

Needless to say, digital works often require very specific equipment for presentation. Make sure to talk about all the details with the artist or the gallerist at length. You need to understand the procedure and the requirements well before you make your final decision.

Edition sizes and prices.

Digital art, in general, can be mass produced. In order to make it a collectible commodity, artists usually decide on a set number of editions for each work. The more limited the edition is, the higher the price. You should always discuss these details thoroughly and make sure you have the number in writing, either on the proof of purchase or certificate of authenticity. This point is valid for all three categories of digital art.

Updates and keeping up with technology.

You should also make sure to enquire about the format of the work, if it is a video. Due to the constant growth of digital technology, it is better to purchase a work that would either not be modified with advanced equipment or can be migrated to higher and more sophisticated formats in the future. Doing some basic research beforehand is always a good idea.

Ask questions.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Even though video and digital art comes under the category of ‘collectibles’ now, it was a slow and confusing process. It is okay to have queries regarding equipment or even the context of the work.

 

View Rejane Dal Bello‘s Earth Art video below –

As Robert D. Bielecki eloquently put it, “Buy what you love and you’ll never make a mistake. Trust your instincts. Exercise viewing patience. Don’t necessarily expect a linear narrative. Understand your budget and make sure you comprehend the details of any transaction.”

Need some specific advice regarding your art collection or help in starting afresh? Benefit from our curatorial services! To know more, contact us at sales@agora-gallery.com

 


Tanya Singh is a budding art historian and writer. She is currently pursuing her postgraduate studies at the LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. With a versatile portfolio, she has over three years of experience in writing as well as editing.

13 comments

  • What about digital painting directly in the computer using different software, imagination and style

    • Hi Gustavo,
      That kind of art will come under the digitally produced category. If you have any further questions, do let us know! 🙂

  • Should a work of art have to be explained? Or should the work explains itself?

    • Dear Curtis,

      That really depends on the vision of the artist. You could make a clear direct statement with your art, or you could decide to leave it open to interpretation. There are no hard and fast rules any more as to what art should and should not do.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

  • I didn’t realize that new media entailed other kinds of non traditional art than just digital art. I think that it’s important to investigate some amount of digital art. There is a lot to offer in beauty and interest in this new form of being able to create artwork. I think it’s amazing what technology has been able to help us create on our devices when it comes to digital art. https://computerartools.com/

  • If a work is produced on a digital platform and printed as a one-off (edition of one), how should it be numbered? Or how should its one-off status be indicated?

    • Dear Meg,

      You should always indicate that its the only piece.

      • You could mention ‘Edition 1 of 1’ or ‘Only Edition’ in the details of the artwork. You should also mention this in any contracts or agreements you make with your clients.

        Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Where did you get this from?, What is your source?: Nonetheless, we overcame that initial hesitation eventually and today, almost 10% of the total art collectors globally are solely digital art collectors.

  • Is there a marketplace that focus only on digital art?

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