Digital Handmade Print Project

10 lessons

Combining craft and technology to create a personal visual language

The ‘digital handmade’ movement captures the pioneering spirit of makers, who seek to push the boundaries of established practices. This project is an introduction to extending your own artistic toolkit and visual vocabulary by using both analog and digital practices and techniques. 

Lesson menu

Skip to slideshow

Project Outline

  1. Project Outline

    In this project you will design and make a digital handmade print working through the following milestones:

    • Inroduction to the digital handmade movement
    • Analysis of examples made by digital artisans 
    • Hunting and gathering your own stimulus
    • Developing ideas based on your own personal design language
    • Experimentation with making physical assets
    • Resolution of ideas based on the results of your experimentation
    • Construction of physical assets
    • Capturing and recording of physical assets using digital tools
    • Completion of your final print using digital tools
    • Printing of your final print
    Project Outline

    Anjuli's finished print


  • Internet
  • Projector (if showing to a class)
  • A device with a decent display (if distance learning)
  • Access to a library (physically or digitally)
  • Notebook (physical or digital) to jot down your thinking as you go

Lesson Content

  1. Something to consider during this project is that all crafts based practices and digital technologies are a result of human discovery and exploration, and that not all technology is digital. Most crafts based practices have evolved over time as technology has advanced.

    It is also important to understand there are two sides to the digital handmade, or, handmade digital coin ... basically you can start by hand and digitise your outcome - or - use digital technologies in a craft based or artisanal manner to produce a physical object - or - move fluidly between digital and analog processes to generate whatever tickles your fancy. 

    So, some makers build their assets by hand using more traditional craft based practices and then digitise those assets to make an outcome, while others use digital technologies to produce objects that push the boundaries of that technology.

    Block One

    Aki Inomata

  2. The nature of digital handmade movement lends itself to the creation of new languages in art and design as it combines and extends established practices into new approaches. These languages often capture the soul and materiality of the handmade and the precision, control and mass production capabilities of digital technology. It is particularly relevant as people seek to learn traditional and indiginous crafts and digital fabrication technology becomes more readily available to the everyday person.

    Known as ‘digital artisans’ people in this field use a combination of handmade or ‘analog’ craft based practices and digital technologies to create their outcomes. The outcomes themselves range dramatically in form, shape, scale, materials and purpose. Unlike other movements in art and design there is no common style or aesthetic for the digital handmade practitioner, rather a way of working which involves an appreciation of craftsperson-ship alongside an exploratory spirit to investigate and re-generate ideas using digital technologies. 

    The tool kit of the digital artisan varies depending on the interests and visual language of the person themselves along with access to materials, knowledge and various technologies. The resulting tool kits and/ or personal practices are often a result of many hours of experimentation and refinement.

    This open endedness means the field is diverse and does not favour one form of knowledge or ‘ways of doing’ - practitioners have all of human invention to play with, both physical and digital.

    Block Two

    Bilbao BBK live rock and pop music festival digital poster

  3. Creating outcomes in this field requires a direct and physical connection with making. In doing so the digital artisan, like the craftsperson, is exercising skills and brain functions that are unique to working with your hands and solving physical problems. However, they are able to undertake processes with more of an adventurous spirit that may not always be permitted if you are working in the context of a specific trade. Whilst working, the practitioner is considering how to translate, extend and re-generate the results of the physical making using digital technologies. Once engaged in, and working with digital technologies the practitioner has to ‘switch gears’ and begin to solve different kinds of technical and computational problems associated with the technology being used.

    This broad yet oddly specific way of working gives the digital artisan a cognitive and creative work-out that spans specialisms.

    Working in this way also gives you an appreciation for the many ways in which art, design and manufacture can be practiced.

    Block Three

    Danielle Clough

Guiding Questions

  1. Think about these questions as you work your way through the slideshow and links:

    • What IS the digital handmade movement?
    • Who is making WHAT and HOW?
    • How is this movement relevant to the wider art/design/manufacture world?
    • What do I already have in my ‘tool kit’? 
    • What do I know what to make by hand?
    • What digital technologies do I know/use that could be relevant?
    Guiding Questions

    Wendy Van Santen

Books, Links and Further Readings


News from Nowhere (1980), William Morris

Digital Handmade, Lucy Johnston

Handmade Graphics, Carolina Amell

Type Object, by Barbara Brownie

Handmade Art: Explorations in Contemporary Craft, Ginko Press

The Art of Writing Your Name Patrick Hartl & Christian Hundertmark


Print them all Publishing House

Quick read: 3D printing

Quick read: Handmade vs digital


Thesis: THE DIGITAL CRAFTSMAN, Aaron Garlick

Moving between Handmade and Digital

An oldie - but a fan favourite of ours ... 

Typophile Film Festival 5 Opening Titles from Brent Barson on Vimeo.

Tips & tricks

  • Dig a little deeper - as with anything, knowing the background and heritage of something will always help you to form stronger ideas that have more direction and purpose. 
  • Look at a diverse range of practitioners - respond emotionally to what you discover - hunt and gather things that resonate with you - why they resonate isn’t too important at this stage.
  • Think about your own practice and creative journey to date - what do you like to make by hand? What do you want to learn?

Start slideshow

Next lesson


Elements and Principles of Design