What Is Media In Art? (Types And Definition With Examples!)

If you’re in the art world, I’m sure you’ve read or heard about media and medium in art. But what do these art terms mean?

Art media are the tools and materials used when creating art of any kind or shape. Graphite, Ink, Watercolor, and Brushes are all examples of different art media. Art media is the plural of art medium, and there are over 15 different types of art media.

So you can better understand this, let’s see more about the differences between media and medium, as well as some examples of different art media types!

Definition Of Art Media

When you use a drawing tool or material to create artwork, that is called an art medium. If you’re using several art mediums (which also works as a plural for medium), you’re using art media.

So whenever you grab a brush, pencil or even use your finger to do some finger painting, that is an art medium!

With that said, the materials you use are also called art media. For example, watercolor, gouache, and crayons are all examples of art media.

It might sound a bit confusing at first, but just think of it this way:

Whatever you use to create artwork (drawing, sculpting, painting, writing, etc.) are art media.

The 19 Types of Art Media

Now that we know precisely what art media is, let’s talk about the different types of art media available worldwide.

Not only that, but let’s also see a few examples of art media on each different type.

According to Wikipedia, there are 19 types of art media available, with many different materials available.

1. Architecture

architecture medium, a building
Architecture can be a very interesting medium in art.

Architecture is the basic construction and design of buildings. Take the word “basic” as a grain of salt, though.

It can be quite a complex art medium. Designing the required buildings in an aesthetically pleasing and durable manner is needed, as well as the choice of materials.

And it can be pretty lucrative if you’re considering getting into it!

Architecture materials are usually Cement, Glass, Stone, and Wood.

2. Carpentry

Carpentry medium, a carpenter working on wood
Carpentry is a very popular art medium.

Another type of art medium that constructs buildings, among other tools or furniture, is carpentry. But it doesn’t end there! 

Carpentry also includes designing and constructing other things such as ships, statues, and much more out of wood.

Carpenters create even barrels and frames, so carpentry is a popular art medium.

In general, carpentry uses wood and adhesives as materials.

3. Ceramics

Ceramics, man working making a vase
Ceramics, a very hands-on art medium.

If you’re using Clay or Porcelain, you’re most likely doing Ceramics. It is a very hands-on art medium that requires quite a bit of patience and attention to detail.

Some examples of Cultures that are known to use Ceramics as a popular art medium are  Chinese, Cretan, Greek, Persian, Mayan, Japanese, and Korean.

By learning this medium, you can create helpful utensils like plates, glasses, cups, and bowls, but also decorative items such as vases!

Although it can be a demanding medium to learn, it is incredibly satisfactory and rewarding.

4. Drawing

Drawing medium, person drawing on paper
Drawing is one of the most famous art media around!

My favorite of all the available art media types is Drawing.

Drawing is an art medium where you draw using materials such as Gouache, Ink, Watercolor, and many others.

Here’s a list taken from Wikipedia of the most common drawing materials used in the Drawing Art Medium :

  • Acrylic paint
  • Chalk
  • Charcoal
  • Conté
  • Crayon
  • Gouache
  • Graphite
  • Ink
  • Oil paint
  • Glass paint
  • Pastel
  • Pixel
  • Sketch
  • Tempera
  • Watercolor
  • Glitter

When drawing, you’d usually use paper or other 2 dimensional surfaces. However, due to its versatility, there are many mediums you can draw on: cardboard, plastic, glass, etc.

It’s possible to draw on almost every surface; you just need the right tool!

We discuss digital drawing further down this article in the Electronic section.

5. Electronic

Electronic medium, drawing on a digital tablet
Drawing, but on a digital tablet! The Electronic Medium.

If drawing isn’t an interesting enough art medium for you, maybe digital drawing is!

Electronic art mediums, such as graphic art software (like these), are pretty popular today.

Not only using graphic art software such as Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint but also using entire tools to create digital art.

For example, Drawing Tablets are an excellent pick for artists that enjoy drawing digitally.

You can also include digital photography, cinematography, and even programming languages in this art medium!

So, the electronic Art Medium has an extensive range in itself.

6. Film

Film medium, person filming a guitarist
Stop motion, animation, live action, everything is inside the film medium!

From animation to live action, film is an art medium encapsulating a few art media types.

The Film art medium refers to the creation of motion pictures. The name references the use of photographic film when creating motion pictures.

Not only does film include creating animation such as stop motion, cel animation, and computer animation, but it also includes live action such as puppetry!

7. Food

person decorating cake
Food is a delicious art medium!

Food is considered an art medium, more specifically in culinary art.

The standard tools used in the food art medium are Ovens, Stoves, Woks, and many other utensils for creating food.

This art medium includes the cooking and preparation of the food, as well as the presentation! And that takes a considerable part in the culinary arts.

Considering that food is involved, it does sound weird to be considered an art medium. However, many professionals consider it an art, finding new and creative ways to present food.

Take the example of Amaury Guichon, a pastry chef known for their amazing chocolate and pastry sculptures!

8. Glass

man working with glass, glassblowing
Glassblowing is one of many aspects of the Glass art medium.

The glass art medium is complex and somewhat dangerous, from glassblowing to coloring and marking. 

The tools used in this art medium will depend on what you’re working on.

For example, if you’re glassblowing, you’ll need a blowpipe and a punty. But if you’re only coloring glass, you’ll need to mix powdered glass.

It is a very meticulous process but beautiful to watch. Both the process and the final products!

9. Installation

Installation art medium person walking through an installation
Installation is a pretty different and interesting art medium.

An installation is a form of sculpture created in a specific place.

It differs from a traditional sculpture since it involves the entire space around it and not only the object itself.

One easy way to distinguish between an installation and a traditional sculpture is by imagining it in a different place. If it looks out of place in a different location, it is an installation.

Not only that, but often an installation might require interaction with its viewer, where you become part of the piece as well!

10. Literature

library full of literature, books
Who doesn’t love books? The literature art medium includes scripts, books and much more.

Using pen and ink in vellum and paper are the basics of the literature art medium. Literature also includes working with Letterpress printing and digital word processors.

Any book and scroll can be considered created in a literature art medium! It doesn’t matter if it’s digitally or traditionally created.

It also doesn’t have to be made out of letters entirely. Comic Books and Graphic Novels, where illustration takes more space than text, are also a big part of the Literature medium.

11. Natural World

natural world, a garden full of succulents
Using flowers, trees, and stones is all part of using the natural world medium!

When you work with anything from the natural world (nature), you use the natural world art medium.

One of the primary examples of using the natural world art medium is gardening. You’re using flowers, grass, and more to create what could be described as art.

Not only that but also using rocks, different soils, and water are part of the natural world art medium.

Many cultures consider these a serious hobby, where aesthetics and serenity are crucial.

You can create pleasing bouquets that send different messages, depending on the arrangement and type of flowers used, or develop balanced gardens to help people feel at ease.

If you consider aesthetics, composition, and balance, then it is a form of art.

12. Painting

Painting, a type of art media using paint or other mediums
Painting can be a messy, but quite fun, art medium!

Painting is a medium where you create art through paint or a similar medium.

The painting art medium is vast and encompasses many different tools and materials, so I won’t cover it all in this article.

Using acrylic paint, oil paint, and gouache on wood, cloth, or even metal, are good examples of the painting art medium!

Just like with drawing, there are many surfaces you can draw, so the possibilities are vast.

13. Performing Arts

Performative Arts, dancing person
Performing Arts medium uses the body and face artistically!

Performing arts is all about the artist themself using their body and face in an artistic matter. Skills such as dancing and theatre are perfect examples of the Performing Arts medium.

Most of the performing arts are performed/created with the help of music or a text to read or follow.

For that reason, it can almost be called a Multimedia performance (which we discuss below).

14. Photography

Photography, man taking a photo, a type of medium in art
The Photography art medium can be done in every place in the world

Capturing photographs of places, people, nature, animals, and more is the basis of the photography art medium.

You can do photography with either traditional tools such as a pinhole camera or more modern devices such as cameras for digital photography.

If you prefer something in between both, you also have analog cameras that can be very interesting to use!

As for the final product, you can ask a service to print out your photos or even reveal them yourself, as long as you have or rent out the necessary installations and materials.

It can be an enjoyable process to at least learn and try once or twice.

Since we live in a digital world, you can digitally edit and retouch all your photographs and share or even sell them online!

It doesn’t matter the exact tool you use. As long as you’re capturing a still optical image, this is the art medium you’re using.

15. Printmaking

Printmaking, printing into paper
Lithography, woodblock printing, printing on paper, all examples of Printmaking!

In Printmaking, we refer to media as the technique used to create a print. Engraving, lithography, and woodblock printing are all examples of using the Printmaking art medium. 

Not only that but many other types of printing, such as laser printing and etching, are also considered printmaking mediums.

As long as you’re transferring images from a matrix to another surface (usually a simple surface such as paper or textiles), then it’s considered printing.

You can draw beautiful illustrations on your computer and then print them out to frame them. Gift these objects to someone dear to you, keep them to yourself, or even sell them.

It’s also fascinating to try non-digital printing mediums such as screen printing or lithography.

This art form requires additional planning when creating your pieces since relief or the way the lines and subjects connect will behave very differently when printing them!

16. Sculpture

man creating a sculpture by sculpting
Sculpting can be as basic or as complex as you wish!

Shaping and combining materials such as Stone, Wood, and Clay is the basis of the sculpture art medium.

Not only do you use these materials and many others like them, but you’ll also need many tools in this art medium.

Some examples of tools that you can use for sculpting are:

  • Bristle brush
  • Clamp or vise
  • Knife
  • Pliers
  • Potter’s wheel
  • Scraper
  • Snips

There’s a lot you can learn about sculping; different materials require different methods.

Sculpting has been around for quite a long time, starting to be vastly used in Ancient Greece. Building decoration, statues, and vases were the most used!

17. Sound

Sound art medium, man playing guitar
Music and rhythm, pillars of the Sound art medium!

The art medium of sound is all about using instruments, rhythms, and music for hearing purposes.

Using instruments such as guitars, saxophones, pianos, and more is an excellent example of using the sound art medium. 

It is one of those art mediums used daily in modern times. If you’re just listening to the radio in your car, walking by a store playing music, or even getting an Ad with sound, this art medium is constantly present!

Nowadays, even Podcasts are part of this vast medium.

18. Technical Products

Technical Products Medium, Product Design
There’s a lot of creativity to be had with Product design!

Most commonly used in Engineering, Industrial Design, and Product Design, the Technical Products art medium merges applied art and science.

This art medium mainly focuses on mass production and uses various techniques and skills. 

The Technical Products art medium focuses on ergonomics, efficiency, and aesthetics.

Here aesthetics are essential, but they need to be functional. Although it might not look like it, this is quite challenging to execute!

19. Textiles

Textiles, crochet tools
Textiles is a very useful art medium.

Creating textiles by crocheting, weaving, pressing fibers together and many other ways is the central part of the Textiles art medium.

Primarily used by spinning wool, flax, and cotton, this is the art medium that creates all kinds of clothing and drapes for regular use.

This art also started long ago, such as creating beautiful tapestries.

However, nowadays, many people love to pick up crochet, macrame, or embroidery as a hobby and even do business out of it.

Media And Medium (What’s The Difference?)

As we’ve mentioned before, media and medium aren’t that different.

Media is the plural of mediums. Another sentence that you can use to mention art media is art mediums.

We use art media when we mention more than one art medium.

The correct word is art Media when we’re just talking about a specific art medium such as Photography or Drawing.

What Is Multimedia In Art?

Multimedia in art is the process of combining different media to form a final product or artwork. You can usually find multimedia in Videos (sound + film).

“Multi” means many, and “Media” is the different types of art media that we can use creatively. So multimedia forms “many different types of art media together.”

These multimedia creations are usually computer-assisted. They combine text, images, and sound to create a final product.

Some examples of multimedia are:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Internet
  • Music
  • Games
  • Movies

It does require the use of many resources, though, since it implies knowing different media types.

So multimedia is usually created with different people, each with different expertise.

Now that we’ve learned all there is to know about media in art; it’s time to get doing some art! Choose your media and just start.

If you’re looking for a goal, check these 5 Different Art Goals that you can start today.