The creative process of making digital art involves many different elements, from the conceptualization of ideas to the execution of a digital piece. But the most apparent attribute of digital art is technology integration, highlighted by computer programs, digital tools and various forms of media.
With a tech-centrically based approach to art, collecting digital art requires a different approach than traditional mediums and knowing where to start can seem extremely daunting. What matters when thinking about starting or even expanding your collection? How subjective is digital art anyways? And how do you know when to actually buy?
What is Digital Art?
While the definition of art is eternally debated by art majors and art historians, the definition we will use in this article is from the Britannica Dictionary and reads "something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings."
Digital art comes in a gazillion of expression, forms, and mediums. Since there's literally no limit to what digital technology can do to help us express our creativity, the types of digital art are endless. There are as many different types of digital art as there are physical artworks – actually probably more – and so it can be hard to lump all digital art into one group. You're looking at generative art, 3D renderings, pixel art, digital paintings and illustrations, virtual reality art, video game art and much more.
Generative art is artwork created using an algorithm, a computer code, or other AI tools. Beginning as early as the 1950s, artists like Harold Cohen and Vera Molnár were among the first to pioneer computational artistic programming, taking the first steps in what today is a very thriving movement.
Then there are digital collectables or non-fungible tokens which most people have heard about, if not understand exactly how they work. Digital collectables are what most people think about now when they hear the term digital art. These digital collectables are unique digital assets that can be bought, sold, and traded online and generally have some type of value attached to them.
Is Digital Art Real Art?
There is a lot of debate over whether digital art can be considered ‘real’ art. Now, this argument has several layers that need to be dissected. The first is that traditionalists don’t consider art that you can’t physically touch or hold as ‘real.’ However, this, of course, isn’t a good definition of art. If we look back at the Britannica definition, nowhere does it read that art needs to be physical. The ‘digital’ in the digital art should be considered merely a tool or platform, just as artists of the past have used bronze, photography or watercolour. Digital art is just another medium of choice for artists.
The second argument has to do with generative art which is created completely with or using the help of AI or autonomous machines. Again traditionalists argue that this shouldn’t be considered real art because it isn’t made by a human and therefore isn't really a creative endeavour. However, again this falls apart too since creativity comes in many forms. Another objection traditionalists have with generative art is they consider it a form of cheating. What a human might take hours, even days, to painstakingly create, can now be done with a few keystrokes. However, as The Archisoup points out, people who feel this way are missing the point. Digital art might make things seem easier but what it truly does is unlock a whole new level of creativity where there are no limits, where there is no structure or preconceptions-- and that can be even scarier.
Why You Should Invest in Digital Art
No matter if you are a beginner or a seasons collector, you should always ask why you want a particular art piece. Really dig into what owning a digital artwork gives you. Do you love the beauty of the artwork? Are you looking to make an investment? Do you want to show off for your friends, or do you want to support an artist? The reason to invest in digital art is often varied and personal. There is no right or wrong answer but being in touch with your ‘why’ can help you make the right decisions
“You have to always know your why,” Natasha Arselan, told Harpers Bazaar Magazine. Natasha is an art collector and the founder of the Natasha Arselan Gallery and of AucArt, an online art platform that specializes in emerging artists. “How you approach your journey of collecting and investing – what you collect, how much you spend. It all depends on your reasoning,” she said.
Familiarize yourself with Digital collectables
Most digital artworks these days are digital collectables, meaning they are apart of a set of artwork, kind of like baseball cards, pogs, or Magic cards. Digital collectables allow digital artworks to be verifiably unique and scarce while providing the artist greater control over their work. Digital collectables are available through online marketplaces, where you can buy your favourite digital art using cryptocurrency.
If you wish to make a killing in collecting digital art, you're going to need to understand the NFT space better. Tokenized artwork makes a ton of sense since it's easier to list and track, allowing for more efficient trading of digital assets. That alone should motivate you to dig deep into how Digital collectables work, especially if you're looking to cash in on your collection.
Get acquainted with digital art platforms
Like traditional galleries, many digital art platforms exist, offering artists a place to showcase their work. That said, the same platforms allow collectors to browse through a great deal of artwork and get familiar with what's on offer. You'll never get your hands on the best pieces out there if you're clueless about navigating the digital art space.
Platforms like SuperRare, MakersPlace and Rarible are some of the most popular ones that feature Digital collectables from established and emerging artists. Other than just browsing through artwork, these platforms also provide valuable insights regarding what's trending in the art world.
Think about materiality
When collecting digital art, a crucial aspect to consider is the materiality of a work. Just because an artwork exists in the digital realm doesn't mean it's not worth considering how it can be showcased and preserved. You need to think about how you can display your pieces through a projector or by investing in more tangible means like prints, frames, canvases and posters. For example, Beeple’s Human One is displayed on
Although digital art is more space-saving than traditional art (you don't need a huge storage space to house your collection), you still have to put a premium on storage. For the most part, it's about how secure and private your data is and what steps you've taken to keep it safe. The materiality of your digital art has a significant impact on storage, as well as ensuring that your collection is kept in the best condition.
Work with ethical sources and do away with IP theft.
The world of digital art, blockchain, and Digital collectables are riddled with potential copyright and intellectual property (IP) theft. You can help protect yourself and the artist by only investing in digital art from ethically sourced platforms and galleries. Take some time to read up on policies, terms, conditions, and reviews before buying or selling any artwork. Doing so will go a long way in keeping you and your collection safe.
Paying attention to ethical art sources also helps maintain the integrity of digital artwork and supports artists who create unique pieces. It's not a perfect solution as even ethical sources and marketplaces aren't foolproof and are vulnerable to IP theft, but the more vigilant the community can be, the better.
When collecting digital art, you'll want to ensure that it is authentic and not a rip-off. As mentioned earlier, the NFT space is filled with counterfeits and knock-offs. To ensure that your collection isn't tainted with such works, it's your job to take steps in authenticating pieces before buying them.
Look out for artists' signatures, confirming that they are indeed the creators of the artwork you are looking at. Double-check if the artwork has been certified by a third-party authentication platform. Doing so assures that your purchase is legitimate and original, making it much more valuable in the long run.
Put a premium on the "uniqueness" factor
Regardless of the type of digital art, you must realize that uniqueness gives the piece its value. Even if similar artwork is abundant, the uniqueness factor remains a major player in determining what makes a good investment.
This means you should focus on collecting pieces with distinct characteristics and features that make them stand out from the crowd. It also implies that you'll have to be more careful when buying digital art, as more often than not, the market is saturated with copies of what's already out there.
The blockchain technology behind digital collectables adds another layer to digital art by making it scarce and limited, so you'll want to ensure that your collection consists of pieces with a story or meaning behind them.
Consider the prospect of migration
While digital art will likely stay forever, the platform you use to store and display it might not be. Due to past cases of platforms going offline or closing down, you must have a plan in place for migrating your collection.
By keeping up with new developments in digital storage technology and understanding different options, you're prepared to move your collection over should the need arise. It also helps to stay informed about the latest digital art and collections technology trends so that you're always ready for any changes.
It may be a whole new world for the art industry, but it's not necessarily difficult to navigate if your goal is to ramp up your digital art collection and invest in the right pieces. Follow these tips, and you'll be on your way to becoming a digital art connoisseur in no time!
The art world is constantly evolving. In the last few years we have seen the rise of the online marketplaces, the increasing importance of social media, more experimentation with generative art, and, of course, an interest in digital collectables. Digital art operates in an entirely new ecosystem, which is both expanding and revolutionizing the existing art world, taking it in an exciting new direction.