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  • Writer's pictureJana Fankhauser

hey grandma I still draw on paper

We’re in 2023 and live in a generation which is so dependent on digital materials and new technology. Whether this starts at a young age using an iPad for games instead of the typical toys or taking notes on a screen instead of paper in high school to our grandparents being able to Facetime us. We gifted my grandmother an iPhone for her birthday so we could talk to her on Facetime. Isn’t this crazy? She also understands how to function it surprisingly well. But while she is only able to send some fun selfies and emojis, others create a whole artist career by only drawing digitally.

what does this mean for our typical drawing? Is digital drawing cheating? Should it be seen as a different form of art? And most importantly does the non-digital drawing still have relevance in todays contemporary culture?

The first question I have to ask myself here is what even is drawing? To me, it’s such a difficult question to answer and I think everyone should have their own opinion on it. While I would say drawing is a purposely shaped mark on any surface with the use of a pencil, pen or any similar material, others would say a movie shot is a drawing because technically the camera movement is drawing a line. Hearing this makes total sense to me but isn’t everything that moves a drawing then? Trains which follow a line, my eyes wandering from place to place, a kid dropping a pencil and it leaving a mark, a mindmap with its many lines and connections, a shooting star flying through the sky, and many more. So where do we quite literally draw the line to what a drawing is?

In my personal opinion, I would be ok with the definition including any wet materials such as acrylics and oil but I would probably consider those paintings instead of drawings. Anything else where we cannot see a literal mark is not a drawing to me since it only draws a line in some form and this gives it a different meaning. So the context in which drawing is being used is very different and it would fall into a different category. But lets go back to the typical definition of a drawing which most people would see as sketching or portrait of something.

We as humans tend to use more and more digital technologies to do such things. I personally am writing this on an iPad right now on which I sometimes sketch and draw on but I wouldn't consider myself much of a digital drawer but especially in my class and on our university campus I have noticed a lot of mainly self claimed digital artists. Some people I have never seen use a sketchbook at all. How and why are they doing this? It is probably a combination of endless opportunities and comfort. An iPad is expensive but think of how expensive art materials are. If you want to try out many different tools you would have to spend a lot of money. But with an iPad, you get an unlimited amount of tools and even better, you can easily erase your mistakes or change parts of the drawings. This to me sounds like the dream since I hate getting smudges on the paper, not being able to change things afterwards and just simply carrying around a bunch of materials, but I also know that this will not only expand my creativity by providing me endless tools but also limit it as well since sometimes, the mistakes and quick marks are what makes art so beautiful. Think about all the abstract artwork or happy mistakes which make art just art. Not everything has to be perfect and the rough sketches or weird-looking faces are what makes something interesting.

I also think drawing is more of a lifestyle. Often I think about how silly does it looks to draw on an ipad in a coffee place. Sometimes it just needs to be the typical 5-year-old damaged pencil and some tiny sketchbook that has been spilt with coffee a bunch of times. And I think this way of drawing will never die. Surely digital art will get more and more into the foreground but there is just something about the classical way of things that always makes its way back. Think about the huge trend of film cameras at the moment. My grandma always asks me why I would shoot a picture on film if I can just do this on my iPhone? Grandma, it’s because I will never achieve such an effortless look with the iPhone as I do with a film camera and the same goes for the drawing. I will never ever achieve the same effortless marks, mistakes, smudges and aesthetics on an iPad as I would on paper.


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