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What Is Art? In A Digital World, The Term Gets Complicated

Defining art is, to put it simply, a fool’s errand. Basically impossible, the notion has become even more complicated in today’s digital environment … but this state of affairs may also mean more creative opportunities for individuals who possess a wide range of skills.

Tech Professions and the Arts

Perhaps the most obvious example of recent tech-driven changes in the art industry is the sale of NFTs or non-fungible tokens. These are unique digital art pieces supported by cryptocurrency and blockchain-based transactions, but they’re hardly the only example.

In fact, you’re interacting with a more common and important example: online content creation and related fields like digital PR. Even the existence of websites hinges on creative expertise, which stretches the traditional concepts of art.

In this new landscape, people with creative temperaments don’t have to have “traditional” creative skills, such as the ability to draw, sculpt, or sing, in order to be successful. They can thrive as independent content creators on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, where they can make short-form video content and choose one of the best tik-tok filters for selfies so they can excel in this form, even allowing them to sell their creative skills as PR professionals.

Digital natives are particularly likely to excel in these areas because they’ve lived all their lives online. They speak a creative language that is uniquely legible in digital environments.

Writers, for example, have always been counted among the ranks of artists, but it requires a certain linguistic flexibility to move between conventional literary writing and writing that will be successful on the web.

Writers who develop content for link building campaigns have to be adaptable; they must be able to take on different brand voices and site styles as part of their work. Then too, social media prose requires a different voice from blog language or traditional reporting, and all of these elements play into successful online PR work.

Better Design, Better Branding

In addition to the kind of creative writing that’s integral to digital arts and culture, as well as branding, today’s online ecosystem is also heavily shaped by creative ventures like unique web design.

Though it’s easy enough to build websites using basic and handy templates, top websites seek to devise or commission one-of-a-kind designs. Even more innovative UX tools are right around the corner.

The idea is that, given appropriate technology, websites could actually respond to users’ preferences – but that will entail extensive creative and technical work on the back end. The result, however, would be better branding and deeper engagement.

In their own strange way, the creative people behind better web design and digital video production are not that different from the innovators behind the new NFT market. The common thread is simple: digital literacy.

These are all people who speak the language of memes and in the cadence of code … and almost every one of them grew up online. It’s the culture they were immersed in growing up, and that reality feeds their relevance.

As the formal arbiters of the art world, institutions like museums and art schools, have absorbed the traditions behind everything from folk dance to new styles of painting to film, eventually they will expand to see and accept the creative commonalities of these digital forms, as well.

That’s how art evolves, even when it’s difficult to grasp in the current moment.

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