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Art and Design: The Same or Different?

by | Jun 9, 2010 | Articles | 9 comments

I hear many people, including designers, that say that they love being designers, because they love being artists. Is art and design one and the same? I am not so sure. Clients often say, “You’re an artist, create a web site for me.” Art is more or less for people to see and appreciate, but great design solves a problem, and creates a solution for a client. It doesn’t matter if it is print design, web design, or product design itself.

Many people say that Apple products are well designed, but I don’t see many people hanging their ipods on the wall as art. They use them every day, and it is that ease in use, and the fact that it is designed so well, that makes it handy and pleasurable to use. Imagine an ipod touch where you had to use a special glove in order to use it, and the ipod itself was shaped like a + sign. Not many people would use it, because it would be clunky and poorly designed. The same goes for print and web design. People may argue that¬† a poster advertisement is art. This may be so after its usage has passed, but while it is promoting a new product or an event, it is a problem solving design. It is solving the problem of how to effectively grab the attention of viewers and inform them of the new product/service/event that is going on. Once its use has passed, it can be considered art, if someone appreciates it. It can be seen as a doorway into the time that it was created, and says a lot about the culture of the time. Looking back on it from the future, it is art.

Art is any form of expression by the artist. It can being anything from landscape painting to photography, to illustration and sculpture. Art expresses the thoughts and feeling of the artist, and design doesn’t do that. A client doesn’t care about how the artist is feeling, or how they can express that in their design. The client is looking for someone to promote their business to the world, so that they can make more money and be successful as a business.

On the other hand, one could theoretically argue that the designer is expressing the sentiment of the company through their artwork, but that would be a stretch. You could say that the artists adds their own personal touch to their work, in an area of artistic expertise in which they specialize, but that is rarely the case. A designer has to be extremely famous and create some truly unique and amazing work for this opportunity to happen. Most of us (myself included) are simply sought out to fulfill the needs of our clients, and nothing more. Our work is more business and less expression.

What do you think? Do art and design coincide, or are they completely separate? We have to know the principles of art and we have to be good artists to be good designers, but are our designs considered as art?

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