Mixed media artwork is any art form that blends different media, or materials. Although the term "mixed media" specifically refers to visual art, in common language it can also encompass other media, such as video, audio or viewer participation. The main type of mixed media artwork is collage, but other types include three-dimensional (3D) sculpture, installation art and online interactive art.
Collage art is the stereotypical form of mixed media artwork, because it is a form of visual art that incorporates different types of paint and other materials, such as paper, fabric and photographs. Artists who make collages use a blend of paints, such as oils, acrylics, watercolors or inks, as well as less-traditional substances such as pencil markings, crayons or even clay. The general technique for applying these substances is known as “fat over lean,” in which the thickest substances are applied last. Many collages also feature other materials, which range from organic materials such as leaves and grass to synthetic materials such as polymers or sandpaper.
Many of the techniques and materials used in collage art also apply to 3D sculptures. This type of mixed media artwork often features a wider variety of materials, which can include metal, wood and even large-scale items such as furniture. Like collage art, mixed media sculpture frequently requires a base, sometimes called a substrate, upon which the other materials are applied. The fastening process for the different materials can be a challenge, and some artists and viewers consider this a part of the artistic process.
Installation art is another form of mixed media artwork that incorporates the environment and sometimes viewer participation. The goal of this art is to alter a viewer’s experience of a particular environment, such as a room or public space. Installation art frequently incorporates various media, which can range from painting and sculpture to video presentations or sound recordings. Additionally, it tends to be on a larger scale than traditional collages or sculptures.
Lastly, online or computer-based interactive art is considered a form of mixed media artwork, although a more accurate category would be multimedia art. This art typically involves a large amount of viewer participation in navigating through a project, clicking on different links or images and playing different audio or video recordings. It incorporates elements of visual art, audio art and installation art, and it generally remains accessible to a wider audience through the Internet. The large-scale involvement of the audience is sometimes considered another “media” through which an artist can communicate.