Sunday, September 9, 2012

Digital "Stamps" Your thoughts and opinions please...

Hi All...

I was reading an e-mail  from one of my favorite stamp mfg's yesterday and was saddened to see that they are going to stop making real stamps.  They have decided to sell only digital images.

I do realize that it's much more economical (profitable) for mfgs. to sell digital "stamp" images and I do realize that lots of people enjoy them.  I'm also sure there is a market and place for them.  I however find it to be a frightening trend as more and more companies revert to selling only digital images as they retire their actual "stamp" lines. 

In my mind, these images just are not "stamps".   In reality they are just images for folks to color ~ adult coloring pages if you will.  Shoot, you can even buy some of these images already colored...I'm sorry but that's not a stamp it's simply a hand drawn collage image by a different name.  By definition there simply is no stamp or stamping involved with these products so I wish they would stop calling them that.

I know my opinion isn't going to sit well with some folks but I have several reasons behind my reasoning.  There are just SO many techniques that you can't use digital images for that you can with rubber stamps....
  • Scene stamping for one is very high on my list of things I love to do and unless you're a computer wizard there is just no way you're going to get a great looking scene stitched together with digital images. 
  • Collage Stamping is another fun thing I like to do and again, not likely with digital images.
  • Master Boards  - something I haven't talked about on the blog yet (it's been on my list of things to post for ages now but I just haven't found the time to post it - will get to it soon though) but it's a great time saver if you want to make lots of cards/projects with very little effort and it's so much fun!
  • Multi-color images - coloring an image with markers or inks then stamping.
  • Watercolor stamping
  • Generational stamping
  • The "Kiss" Technique
  • Bleach Stamping
  • Resist Stamping
  • Faux Batik
  • Jewelry
  • stamping in polymer or paper clay
  • stamping into gesso, embossing or artist paste
  • etc...the list just goes on and on....
Don't get me wrong...there are some really cool images out there and I'm sure there are lots of people who enjoy them.  Yes, you can color one of these images and put it on a card, scrapbook layout or other project. but, mfg's have to realize that these images can not replace real honest to goodness rubber stamps.  

I would hope that the mfg's out there converting or thinking about converting to digital "stamps" would really give it a second or even third though...  While digital images may immediately help their bottom line I don't think it's going to be able to sustain them in the long run as an actual rubber stamp would.

For what it's worth ...that's my .02 -  what are your thoughts.... 

EDIT - It's so interesting to read everyone's thoughts on this subject.  I'm so glad that you all feel comfortable enough to voice your opinions!  This is exactly what I was hoping for :) Thank you all!!


  1. I certainly hope, like you, this is not a trend that will continue. Digital images are wonderful for what they are but a digital image is very one-dimensional. A rubber stamp has countless possibilities and is available at any point in the creations process, even on lumpy, messy substrate. Hopefully, the individual tool of a "real" stamp will be available for a long time.

  2. I totally agree with you. And I have another reason for you....What if someone doesn't have or want access to the internet? I much prefer real electricity required :)

  3. I'm a relative newbie to stamping/paper crafting and will respond to the various points you raise with caution as I don't want you to think I'm being disrespectful especially in view of the vast amount of knowledge that you have and kindly share with us all, but....

    I do think there is a place for both. There are things that you can't do with rubber stamps that you can do with digital and vice versa. I personally work with both and would be really disappointed if production of real rubber stopped.

    However, you do not need to be a computer wizard to create scenes. Many digi's are created as PNG images and can be overlayed with ease into a word document. There are number of tutorials out there showing how easy this is.

    You can create collaged/mixed media projects with ease in pretty much the same way as you would with traditional stamps. The same goes for Master Boards and multi-coloured images.

    Granted some the techniques you mention could not be achieved digitally (or not that I'm aware).

    IMHO I think that there is lot more that can be done with digital images than just colouring them up and placing them on a scrapbook page or card.

    Thanks for opening up this long overdue discussion.

    Claire x

  4. Why are they even called stamps considering they don't fundamentally differ from other types of digital graphics? I guess it's because they're sold by stamp companies and marketed towards cardmakers and other stamp users. And that they are made in such a way optimized for colouring in. But for me stamp means something I can stamp with, a tangible object, not a file I can print. I call those graphics.

    I'm not really a stamper, but find stamps useful for my jewellery making. They can be used for everything from stamping metal (with ink, resist, embossing powder) to impressing clay. Can't use printed images for all that. In fact, not being a stamper, my use of stamps are all things I can't do using image transfers or printed digital graphics, which digital stamps seems to be about. So for me personally, digital stamps aren't a substitute. I also enjoy the manual process and how you can experiment in a way you can't with a printer. (I do make digital art and image transfers using digital graphics and photos, of cause.)

    However, of cause I understand that digi stamps can be useful for cardmakers etc. It's also possible to create collages etc, as you mention, on a computer even as a newbie. It's not impossible to recreate bleach stamping, watercolour etc with image editing software, e.g. Photoshop (love photoshop and filtres). And for companies, focusing on digi stamps cuts cost for production and they never sell out. Personally, though, I'd miss the handcraft aspect of stamping. Others like it so of cause the development is great for them -- but I do hope physical stamps aren't forgotten in the process. And I'd never call it stamps and stamping.

    If the trend continues, maybe it would prompt users of only traditional stamps to create their own stamps instead, which would make stamped images more personal -- and add even more craftmanship in the work.

    Those are my thoughts as a "non-stamper", who likes to buy stamps every now and then. And want to learn to make her own physical stamps from her digital images and hand-drawn doodles.

  5. I have been stamping for a long time and I have no interest whatsoever in digital images. I understand that some love them and that's great for them. It just is not for me.

  6. I vote on your side. We use stamps for so much more than placing ink to paper! Haven't seen the home computer yet that can emboss velvet!

    I spent several years enjoying computer graphics. Lots of fun and lots you can do but it is far more limited in applications.

    Don't call yourself a rubber stamp company if you aren't going to produce rubber stamps!

  7. Hi Roni -

    I for one would be sad if this continues to happen. Yes, I do play around with images, but unless you have a laser printer, there are extra steps that must be taken if you want to print and use the digital images with liquid medias, otherwise they will smear. I prefer true rubber stamps. They are something you have for years, can do special techniques with as you mentioned Roni. And, if there is a power outage (that happens a lot by me), you can still play with rubber stamps, not so with your pc, even a laptop runs out of power.
    I hope rubber stamps do go away anytime soon.

    Elaine Allen

  8. I enjoy working with both Digital images for paper crafting and traditional rubber stamps. The main draw is how easy they are to store AND resizing the image to the size you like. On that note, my computer crashed once, causing me to loose all of my files- thinking I had learned, the next round went on a flash drive...which broke...... So...there are limitations. There are tons of 'free' images and they are much less expensive than rubber. With digital, I always get a good image- unlike stamping where you get a poor image or a crooked one...... You can also change the color of your printer ink to make the images any color you want. I am fortunate, my Brother printer works beautifully, and I do not have issues with smearing of the ink either.
    That said- I love my red rubber stamps as well- I love the Technique Junkies and learning new techniques, so really enjoy the red rubber....
    I enjoy the best of both worlds....

  9. I also enjoy working with both products and can create many different results with either. Just because you enjoy working with digi images/graphics, does not mean that you are still not a stamper. Stamping is about placement, assetics (and loads more) which can also be done with digital images. We all use different papers to help create our projects and these are not always made by stamping but by prnted means (whether us ourselves or the paper manufacturer).

    Both have their place in the crafters arsenal and compliment each other. We all have our favourite mediums/techniques but this does not make one better than the other.

    Both create different techniques and can cross over - digi images can be triple embossed, re-inked, brayered over, kissed (try printing on to non printable acetate; the image sits on it and can then be kissed on to any paper or card), resist technique (print on to glossy papers and emboss) ... etc etc.

    I know it appears that my comments are pro-digi/graphics but I too would also be very sad if rubber/clear/acyrlic stamps disappeared and were totally replaced with digi images. However in a very cost conscious world at the moment, each company has to think about how it will survive and maybe that is more of the reason for the change.

    As Claire said, many thanks for opening up this long overdue debate.


  10. Rubber stamping and digital stamping are two extremely different art forms.

    I too would appreciate a different name for digital stamps...and additionally suggest we need galleries to have a way of seperating the different art forms.

    It is difficult to bring attention to this topic since it is in the interest of stamp companies to market to the rubber stamping community. Yet another change in our lives.

  11. As a digital scrapper I like being able to use "digital stamps" for my projects. However, I love using my physical stamps too. I would be bummed if my favorite physical stamp companies went digi only.

  12. I can see a place for both; however, I have not used any digital images. I don't believe they are stamps. I like playing with my stamps too much. Creating texture with paint and gesso. Bending the stamps to use only the bits and pieces that I want to. Creating mixed media with images only would be a bit difficult from my perspective. Texture, texture, texture is so important in how I choose to work. This is a great discussion.

  13. Hi Roni
    I agree 100% with you there is no subsitution for a rubber stamp or clear stamp.
    Unfortunatly this trend is also happening with books and mags I dont like to read a lot on the computer it gives me a headache same reason as i wont watch 3d movies i prefer my book and magazine as something tangible something I can hold and look at take with me put on a bookcase comeback to and read again curled up with a cup of tea
    Stamps are the same pick the type of ink and the color wonder when you are stamping what it will come out like will I emboss or not will I use distress ink or achival and so on
    hate the digital trend

  14. I too would be very sad if companies went only digital. However maybe a solution to still having that image used as a real stamp would be to have the image converted to rubber or polymer. There are many companies who will make a stamp for you using your images as well as the new stamp making machines that are out there available for purchase. I suppose if they did decide to quit manufacturing their stamps that we would still have the ability to make them into a stamp.

  15. My personal opinion about digi vs. the real thing is that I need something tangible to touch. I like the 3D vs. the picture. I do however have a lot of digis that I like which I print out and will cut up to paste on a collage piece or card, and even in my art journal. some of the digis are super. go to Deviant Scrap and take a look at some of the companies there. just my personal opinion.

  16. I read all the posts and comments with interest because I am one of the die hard rubber and clear stamp lovers. I do have some digi stamps (but yeah..why do they call them stamps? I really feel many of them are basically like the original clip art I first discovered years ago), but will never give up my actual stamps. I love the whole process of stamping with ink and rubber or clear stamps. I even like the possibility of a non-perfect image! I know that many special effects can be worked on computer, but my poor old computer can't even handle digital scrapping programs so I'm pretty limited. I stamp when I DON'T want to be on the computer anymore, which is also why I scrapbook. I love the computer for photo editing and special effects, but sometimes I just want to grab ink, paper, and scissors...and just wallow in all that fun stuff!

  17. The Octopode Factory started off as just offering digital stamps available on etsy and now also make rubber - very sucessfully. So it's not all a one way street. It's a shame for you that one or two of your favourite stamp companies has gone over to 'the dark side' but I honestly don't see that there isn't room for both. And will continue to be so. Look at vinyl, stil going strong despite mp3s. For myself, I love working in both mediums - sometimes together.

  18. I totally agree with your remarks, I am a newbee to computers and the stamps are beyond me, on the other hand I have totally enjoyed real stamps and get a lot of enjoyment from them and am able to make some lovely cards with my "real stamps"

  19. Oh I so agree. Digi 'stamps' are so limited in what you can do with them and whilst I can see the use for digi work, esp if you are combining digi and ordinary work and want to keep a common look...but give me a proper stamp anytime.

  20. Let me start by saying that I'm so glad you brought this up, this is a long due discussion and I was wondering how others feel about this! I think that digital stamps are not worth that 'label' it's misleading and nothing like a stamp. They just call them that for marketing reasons if you ask me. Besides that I feel that they are a great addition to rubber stamping, nothing more and nothing less. There are pro's and con's to both of them. I don't use them a lot for we don't have a laser printer and it's just to much fuzz to print them and make photo copies so I can color them in with wet media. I do use them in my digital work though. I know there are a lot of people who lack the knowledge to use the digital stamps to their full advantage but it can give you a great way to play with them if you do find out how to use them, and it really isn't that difficult as some might think! I think they should change the name from digital stamps into clipart or something, it's just stupid to name them digital stamps!

  21. I've never used digital stamps and I'm not saying I never will.But there is something about the feel of a rubber stamp in your hand. Feeling the wood or the acrylic block,cutting the the stamp when you get it home if its a stamp without a block. Its just so tactile. Digital is great,but let's not go overboard.

  22. I've never used digital stamps and I'm not saying I never will.But there is something about the feel of a rubber stamp in your hand. Feeling the wood or the acrylic block,cutting the the stamp when you get it home if its a stamp without a block. Its just so tactile. Digital is great,but let's not go overboard.

  23. Ok, let's wade into the discussion. There is nothing that can ever replace rubber or clear stamps. Ever! And like many have already stated, the name 'digital stamping' is an obvious misnomer. I have tons of clipart that I could use, but to me stamping is a very 'physical' process. I'm not saying that 'clipart' doesn't have a place. It's just not stamping. I also like the other point that was brought up. Digital magazines. I would really hate to have only a digital copy of something only to lose it when technology crashes. It is just too limited, and like Captain James T. Kirk, I like the 'antique books'. (Star Trek, in case you're wondering) So, maybe if enough of us 'traditional' stampers speak up, digital will be less of an issue.

    Roni, before I sign off, would you add my mom to the Christmas charm list? Her name is Marge Sciscoe. She doesn't play on the computer much, but in the first charm swap you did, I participated for her and she got a huge kick out of it. We're going to get together this weekend and start working on ours. Put her in the religous and secular categorie. You can e-mail the confirmation to me.

  24. It is sad when a company decides to completely stop making stamps, but if you feel that strongly maybe you should contact those companies and let them know how much they will be missed. If enough people did that maybe they would have a rethink.

    My first love is stamping and I will never give that up, however I do use some digi images and there is far more you can do with them than just print them out and colour them in. Recently I made stencils with them and got arty with my paints and inks, so please everyone don't dismiss them right out of hand just because they are not your thing. They have been a godsend to many crafters who for whatever reason are unable to use rubber stamps.

  25. I'm a rubber stamper, and don't plan to go digi at all.
    There are some Fab images available, but I am not a computer wizz, spend too much time on here as is, and my inkjet printer ink runs, plus won't print on heavier cardstock.
    I guess you just can't teach this old dog new tricks, and I just have a certain Fun playing with rubber :)
    VicR in OH (USA)

  26. I probably can guess the company of which you speak (I saw their announcement the other day). I do not like nor buy digital stamps. You are correct. They are not a stamp, but just an image to color. I really hope companies see what a huge mistake they are making when their revenue falls off due to the lack of people wanting to use the so-called digital stamps.

    Would I be able to emboss a digital stamp? Nope, not without a lot of problems (I emboss a lot). Can I stamp it directly on the mailing tag or ATC I want to stamp it on? Probably not (my printer just wouldn't be able to print on that-not a print option). Can I stamp it several time, masking off parts of images to get overlays? Nope And the list goes on and on.



  27. You are so right. Digi stamps are okay but I love the variety and creativity with an actual stamp. I am a stamp nut. My husband would freak if he knew how many I actually own.

  28. I would hate to see rubber stamps cease to exist, as there is some tactile satisfaction to me in being able to physically create the design with the stamps, inks, and paper. I have used what is now called "digital stamps" for years...but back then, we called them what I still call them...clip art. There is a place for both, but I enjoy the real stamps more.

  29. I am very computer literate (teach computer classes) and I would never use a digital image. I have used the computer for printing calendar pages but never even so much as a phrase. To me, it's just not art; it appears flat and almost all your artistic options are taken away. Don't know who that company is, but they might as well start printing coloring books.

  30. I just started using digital stamps. I use them in digital art. That being said - My background is in clay and mixed media. I choose and love to use rubber stamps with lots of texture on all kinds of clay.
    I did print some digis on shrink plastic and that was fun, but find it hard to use in my daily crafting.

  31. I'm weighing in with the majority. Clip art is clip art, no matter what name a vendor gives their product. While there is a place for it, give me good old fashioned rubber/acrylic/silicone stamps. I want to be able to play with inks and stamps, paints, markers, etc. I stamp a lot of my work on watercolor paper. My laser printer doesn't have an option for watercolor paper. I do use some digital images but not "stamps" that I later color. We aren't going to change the minds of the companies that have decided to switch to digital so we need to continue to support those who make traditional stamps. JMO.

  32. I'm a hands-on card maker so digi stamps have little appeal for me. I agree with you about the reasons and hope that the stamp companies don't switch or cease making stamps!

  33. I find a company going away from a traditional product and only selling a digital one to be very... "icky". Are they offering a product to meet their customer's needs or are they just out to make a quick buck the easiest way they know how? If I wanted clip art, I would purchase clip art. I don't do digital work because I like the imperfections of stamps, I like to feel like someone has had their hand in the artistic process. Most digital art I have seen looks like what I would find at Hallmark. While it is nice, I'm sure it serves a purpose, it usually doesn't have the handmade feel to it. I want texture, I want stray marks, I want something other than a piece of computer paper. I have enough impersonal media in my life, my art will not be one of those things.

  34. I don't think digital stamps are stamps at all. They are images. And when I use such my design I is a graphic design, not a stamped design. It is a collection of images and text I arrange.

    Two different skill sets are needed too. One set for digital, one for stamping.

    Totally different they are.

    No right or wrong, just preference.

    I don't enjoy graphic design like I do rubber stamping.

    Maybe there are too many stamp companies.

    Those that switch to all digital will be supported by digital crafting designers.

    And the few true stamp companies left may thrive, supported by people like me who LOVE stamps.

  35. Agree with you completely. Love the tactile sensation of stamping. Always thinking I need to unchain myself from this computer and get into the studio to do some real work.

  36. My problem with digital stamps is the same as my problem with all digital art: while there is artistic vision and insight, there is no skillful hand in digital art and craft. That's my problem with it. This is not to say that all artistic handwork is better than digital art. Digital art is too new for us to know whether it can find a place in people's hearts. My guess is digital artistic vision will last, but will not be loved or revered the way artistic vision combined with artistic hand is valued. The personal contact between the viewer and the creater of hand worked art and craft can't be duplicated in digital work.

  37. I am on the fence with this...I agree with you 100% but I do enjoy being able to re-size the digital images to fit my project. Also when I need an image I do not have in a hurry it is nice to be able to simply print i tout and start to color immediately.


  38. I love digital images. They account for 98% of my card projects.

    I love the resizing, the scene creating, and the manipulability of them. An example would be when we made some change to an image to look like Harry Potter. It was amazing and my nephew, the avid fan, was amazed and he still has it to this day. You can see it here if interested

    I mostly use my rubber stamps now for background images. The rest are collecting dust. I personally am disappointed when I find incredible images/stamps but they don't sell digitally as I can't spend 10+$ for 1 magnolia or other image/stamp (and store it) when I will likely use only a few times instead of purchasing a digital for a fraction of the price with no storage issues (I have backups)

    I am not against those who prefer rubber stamps I would just also like to all the ability to purchase in digital.

  39. I do use digital stamps sometimes but am dismayed to hear a company would only produce digital and not actual physical stamps. There are indeed many techniques which can only be done with physical stamps. I do hope none of my favorite companies go this route.

  40. I absolutely HATE the idea of "digital" images being called "stamped" images. A stamped image is exactly that, HAND stamped!! There is nothing HAND stamped about a digital image. If that is what companies are going to do then I will continually seek out the actual stamps--NOT digital images!! Also, I will hang onto ALL of my stamps. I was thinking of thinning some out that I rarely use but now I will just hang onto them. In the future I believe they will make a HUGE comeback--even bigger than they were 15 years ago. YEP~that's about how long I have been stamping! I think we need to inspire all our new teens out there (like I did my 8 yr old) to start a new hobby. It will give back SSOO much more in the end.

  41. I agree with you totally. I will not buy digital stamps or digital die cutting cartridges. I want to stamp images on whatever paper I want to use with an ink pad in whatever colour I want to use. Ink cartridges for printers cost a lot of money. I do not want to be limited to just printing from the computer. I do not want to have to lug a computer and printer to my favourite local paper arts store when I go to art journal group. This is the only paper arts store left in the big city I live in. If everyone buys digital stamps there won't be any local stores left to meet up in with other art junkies. If I am in the trailer I don't have computer access, I need non digital, real rubber stamps. Please, please people lets keep the rubber, clings are great, wood mounted too!!!!!!!
    This going digital only business has me very concerned and frustrated.
    Jacquelene L.

  42. I total agree with you. Digital stamping is beautiful, but hands on is better. I do not have a digitial program, and would not at this time afford one. My small investment is stamps will have to do. I can layer,mess up and redo and the design improves, giving me the control of perfection not a computer. I too join the fight for rubber cling stamps


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!