What is a Multimedia Artist?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A multimedia artist is an artist who creates work which spans multiple media, usually with a focus on the integration of electronic media. Multimedia and mixed media are sometimes confused, but multimedia is a bit broader in scope, and tends to be more dynamic in nature. Multimedia artists can be found working in a variety of settings, including art schools, galleries, and their own studios. They may collaborate with other artists on projects, or focus on developing a project independently from start to finish.

A multimedia artist is an artist whose work spans many different media, from sculpting and paining to music and drawing.
A multimedia artist is an artist whose work spans many different media, from sculpting and paining to music and drawing.

Commonly, a multimedia artist makes pieces which unfold over time, and are designed to engage multiple senses. People may also be able to interact directly with the work, and their interactions can actually change the work. For example, a multimedia artist might set up a website and scatter clues around a community, drawing people to the website with the clues and having their interactions with the website and each other become part of the work.

A multimedia artist can work with a wide variety of digital media in addition to film, video, and traditional visual art media such as paints, pastels, watercolors, and so forth. Some artists work with software which is designed to be used by members of the art community, while others repurpose software or even design their own. Multimedia artists can be found working in fields like animation and video game development, where a knowledge of technology is required along with an artistic eye and in interest in developing pieces which people will be interested in engaging with.

Multimedia art pieces can take the form of performances, gallery installations, installations in the outside world, and exhibits mounted entirely in digital spaces. People who work in this area of the arts are generally highly technically proficient, and many are constantly developing new skills. A multimedia artist may take each new project as a challenge to learn a new technique, whether it's a programming language or a new visual art technique.

Many art schools have programs which focus on multimedia work and the training of multimedia artists. These programs give students a thorough grounding in the history of art and in the context of multimedia art in particular. Students in such programs may have access to courses at other educational institutions by agreement so that they can develop technology skills and other skill sets which may be relevant to their work, or their school may have a large technology component which offers training in topics ranging from film and television production to programming.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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I saw the work of an amazing multimedia artists a few years ago. Their name escapes me unfortunately but maybe if I describe their work it will ring someone's bell.

The show featured a number of very large and very beautiful oil paintings, most of them featuring people in groups. The artists then projected a video onto each one of the paintings. The videos featured the same characters as the paintings.

So here you have the static characters serving as the backdrop for their dynamic selves. It was very hypnotic and curious to stare at any of the pieces for any length of time. I think it also accomplished the goal of any good multimedia artist. They did not combine mediums in a slap dash way, they did it with intent and purpose.


Multimedia artist is really a very general catch all term that refers to the art made by many of today's artists. There are few artists working today who limit themselves to one medium. And why should they. The definition of contemporary art is so broad and boundless that I can't imagine any creative mind wanting to restrict themselves to just one material.

The evolution of the multimedia artists is really the evolution of the artists from craftsman, to creative intellectual. Artists traditionally worked in only one medium in the past because art was thought of as a trade. Being a sculptor was like being a brick layer. Being a painter like being a dry wall hanger. You worked in your area and that was it because who would pay you to experiment?

But today we value artists more for their imagination that their skill. We are looking for products of the mind rather than of the hand and wrist. Its an exciting evolution. It frees artists to pursue their creative imaginings to their fullest extent.

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