I love art. I love painting, sketching, sculpting, scribbling and doodles on the sides of paper. To me, art is the greatest inspiration. When I’m stuck on a design, I turn to art first. Art and design have always fed from one another. Artists create trends that then create design trends that then create new artistic trends. Though in some cases there’s no love lost between the two fields (“Sellout!” cried the artist, “Stinky hippy!” screeched the designer), when the two come together and build off of one another, the results are remarkable.
There is at least one person in the crowd who thinks that art and design are the same (with my luck, there’s only one person in the crowd period, but we’ll pretend I’m a famous blogger for a moment). In fact, there is a difference. Those differences are message and audience.
How a message is conveyed is the key difference between the two fields. In art, the goal of a work is to be interpreted, in design, it is to be understood. All art is open for interpretation. Artworks rarely convey a perfectly clear message on first glance. (“Yes, but what does the fish eating the Cheezit goat statue mean?” she asked. “Oh, it represents the oppressive force of the Universe,” stated the artist. “Oh. Well. I can certainly see that.”) Graphic design, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. The goal of design is to send a message that is clear and easy to access. A designer’s motto should be ‘Don’t make them think!’ The faster and more efficiently the audience can reach the message, the better.
That’s the other difference. Audience.
Both audiences overlap, but the viewer’s mindset when approaching an artistic piece is wholly different from their mindset when approaching a designed work. A man standing in front of a painting expects to look for a long time to understand every aspect of a painting. A man standing in front of a poster expects to find information immediately. The needs of the audience dictate the goals of the field. When this same man runs into a poster that he has to stare at forever to understand, chances are he’s going to rip the poster into bits, then maybe feed it to his dog. Designers create for an audience demanding immediate information. Artists create for an audience that desires to draw its own conclusions.
Ultimately, artists create for themselves and designers create for others. Both blend into each other, whether through theft or collaboration, both grow together. Design would be lost without art, art couldn’t be the punk rebel without design and a good chunk of the world would be lost without the both of them (and yes, I really believe that).