What is design? What is art? Are they one in the same? Are they mutually exclusive? The worlds of arts and design, and what they signify, was something I was wanted to delve into and explore more deeply, after someone just recently called me an “artist.” I have never thought of myself as an artist, because I recognize myself as a designer. Thus, I immediately corrected the person; by saying I was not an artist, but rather a designer. The next logical question which proceeded was, “what is the difference between the two?” I was able to create a reasonable explanation on a whim, but it did spur my curiosity to explore and ponder the question more fully. Now, to be truly honest, I think this is one of those issues that could be argued for years and years and never really resolved; however, at the same time, it is a topic that I think is worth discussing.
In my opinion, art and design are not one in the same, but I also do not feel as though the two are worlds apart. I do not identify myself as an artist, because what I do is design, construct, and build; whereas, I see artists are those innately talented people who create, express, and imagine. Now, it is not to say that when I design that I do not also create, express, and imagine, but the difference is I do it with different parameters and specifications.
Let’s start by exploring the definitions of design and art. According to Webster Dictionary, the definition of design is to “create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan.” On the other hand, they say that the definition of art is “the conscious or unconscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also, works so produced.” If you look at those two definitions, two main elements stands out, and that is that designing consists of a plan and art seems to be more emotion and less thought. Moreover, art clearly says it requires skill, which one can assume to mean natural talent, and design is something can can be learned.
Well, like I said, this is not an issue I can come up with a definitive conclusion on; rather, I am really merely thinking out loud. However, I was able to come up with some elements of art and elements of design that I will explain below to help to understand what each one really signifies and represents. Now these elements are not mutually exclusive, in my opinion, but rather I am placing the element under the category I think it best fits. If you would like to expand on this issue, please feel free! It is a very interesting topic to me, and I hope you enjoy it as well!
What is Art?
Art to me represents expression of the emotion or feeling of the artist, and it seems like one of the main purposes of art is to express. Art is an outlet, rather than a means to an end. An example of this is Monet and Munch, who are expressionist artists. They did not want the viewer to get a particular result from their paintings; rather they merely painted their own expression.
Comprehension Not Important
With art, I feel that the artist usually does not care whether the viewers understand what it is they are trying to convey. Rather, the art, like I said above, is an expression of the artist’s emotion that must be expressed for the artist to articulate their sentiment. But, the artist does not, nor does the viewer; consider the piece of work a failure if the comprehension of the sentiment is not understood.
Not for Profit
Most work that I consider art is purer in that it was usually not done for the purpose of profit. Most artists I know say that they paint, write, or draw because they have to. They have a creative muse in them that requires them to create, and if that creation is ultimately sold, then ever better. However, in my experience that is usually not the primarily goal.
Audience Plays Less of a Role
When an artist creates something, they usually do not consider the target audience, and whether they will appreciate the piece. Rather, the audience is anyone who ultimately experiences the art, and not any person in particular.
Art is subjective as to whether it is good art or bad. The famous saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” applies to art perfectly. One person may look at a piece of art and feel it is amazing and another might be appalled. Essentially art is limitless as to what is indeed good quality art.
What is Design?
Unlike art, where you are just trying to express, with design, the designer is truly trying to communicate some sort of idea, feeling, or opinion. If the design does not communicate, or if communicate is misunderstood, the design is not successful.
Whether it is logo design, graphic design, or web design, the audience is one of the main elements you must consider as a designer. Rather than just creating for the sake of creating, as a designer, you are creating to please your audience. Therefore, in design, the audience is an integral part of the equation.
When I think of design, I think of commercialized art. Try to think of all design from industrial design, to graphic design, to interior design, and they all have one thing in common; design is essentially art that goes one step rather, which is to make your audience happy and in the end get paid for your work. Some even say that design is the less pure version of art, or that designers are the sellouts, though I do not see it that way.
With design, you must be able to problem solve in order to create something that fits into certain specifications or project plan. If design, you are given a project and you are expected to create something that communicates an idea, resonates with the audience, and is aesthetically pleasing, all while following specific project stipulations. Now that takes a lot of planning before the design can even begin.
Unlike art, unfortunately designers are often limited as to what they can create. For the above mentioned reasons, it is easy to see that designer is often limited, and thus is usually constructing and building rather than truly creating.
Design is objective, so it is easier to determine whether it is good or bad. When you look at design, you can immediately say whether the design is aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand, or if it is poorly constructed and unsuccessful. The reason this is the case is because design follows rules, best practices, and elements. Design fits into a category, and depending on which category it is, it is simple to determine whether that design is good or not, by seeing if it follows those specifications.
I hope you enjoyed my discussion of art and design. Feel free to continue the discuss in the comments section!
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