analog to digital continuum

I just saw the phrase, “analog to digital continuum” on one of the blogs that I follow. I enjoy being one of the many who can claim existence in both worlds, and by default have been an active participant in the transition between them.

My career in graphic design and marketing communications began with a traditional fine arts degree, learned by standing at an easel and squishing paint colors together on a palette. My boyfriend at the time stole a cafeteria tray from the student union for me to use. Ever since then I have used old, worn out cookie sheets as palettes. Total analog. Squish out color, mix it, paint it onto a canvas. If you want someone to see your work, you invite them over or get a gallery to hang your work. I usually opted for the former, because I was so busy working for a paycheck that I didn’t accumulate enough work to hang.

So then I landed a job as an office manager with a print broker, and the rest is history. They asked me if I had used computers before. “Yes,” I said, thinking about the computer game I had played with the kids when I was a nanny/housekeeper, on their amazing contraption called an Apple. Could I type? ”Yes,” I lied, ”35 words a minute.”

They hired me on the spot, and I spent the weekend before work began learning how to type. On a typewriter. So I could go to work and use a computer. See the transition? There it was. A little bridge between analog and digital happened right there, in my life.

Before I knew it, I wasn’t just running their office, I was designing things with a page layout program. Leap ahead two years, I was designing things for a newspaper. Then I owned a design business, and soon I was working with four-color photographic images, getting them ready to be printed, going directly from a computer file to a printing press.

And now? Well, now I can type about 75 or 80 words a minute. I use computers all the time. In fact, I just used a digital camera to take a picture of an ink drawing I did by hand. I connected a wire from the camera to my computer and transferred the image. I opened my software (Photoshop) and adjusted the image saturation, the levels of dark and light, and the size and resolution of the image so that it not only looks a lot like the original, it can be shared, quickly and easily, with you.

It’s really amazing, when you think about it. I know when I link this image to the CZT diva Laura Harms’ blog, people from all over the world will see my interpretation of this week’s challenge, using the tuxedo tangle. It’s like I just invited you all over to see something I did by hand.

And that is the biggest thing of all: I did the drawing by hand. Because we all need to return to that kind of immediacy and wonder: that of seeing the ink flow out of the pen onto the lovely paper tile. The immediacy of my cat jumping up next to me and making my hand jump a little. The surprise and wonder at creating something new. Sure, I can do it a million times over on the computer, but when it is ink on a little piece of paper, it brings me back to why analog is important:

There is just one, I did it just now, and I cannot do it again. That is life.

Here is this week’s tile for the diva challenge #112:


I used tuxedo, mi2, knightsbridge and tripoli.You can check out the challenge and everyone’s work at the diva’s blog.


15 thoughts on “analog to digital continuum

    • Thanks, Linda. I think I have always liked drawing with a pen (or pencil, or both). I can’t think of a time that I didn’t. I have always challenged my daughter to do the same. At age 23, she is a person for whom the continuum disappeared quickly into digital. Having had artsy parents and being one myself, I think that the continuum of making things by hand is very important to pass along to our kids and to anyone else who will listen!

    • Thank you Annemarie. I love looking at your blog. You show so well how a person, “who can’t draw,” actually can, with beautiful results. And I like reading your posts in Dutch (?) and English and trying to translate.

  1. Mary, your share is so true, marrying the two worlds is a wonderful and amazing process. The Zentangle process has brought me full circle, taking me back to the physical connection with my “analog” tools and just creating. Lovely work!

    • Danni, I remember taking a sketchbook class after several years of doing design and art ONLY by computer. I felt resistant to the physical process and tools and mediums (because the computer was so easy… even erasing things was easy). But I’m really glad I went. After a few sessions, I was definitely a believer (again). It has become important to incorporate both life experiences in what I do.

  2. Wonderful, thoughtful post and I really love your tile! Tuxedo is amazing but your tripoli is out of sight! I hope you keep creating (by hand) and sharing so we all can appreciate it.

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