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Differences Between Art and Design

‘Art’ and ‘Design’ are often two words thrown together in the same context or sentence, when really they are both very different. Whilst I will always believe that adding a splash of creativity to the mix with an artistic eye can be a good thing, too much can distract from the end goal of a design. The two words can be imagined as a fork in the road and the path you choose is governed by what the desired outcome is – whether the media you are creating is used to give voice to creativity or whether the end result will be have too meet certain standards and expectations and to have a useful function as a physical object.

Art should be liberating. In it’s purest form it should give anyone free reign to express ourselves, through any medium they choose, just for the sake of venting their creativity. When you REALLY look at the meaning behind ‘Design’, this then seems quite the opposite. Design has a focused purpose and entails something being conceived or made to a specific set of requirements. This often requires problem solving far more than a creative mindset.

If you look at the definitions of design in the Oxford English dictionary, both as a verb and a noun, it will mention drawing. This can add some confusion to the argument as most people may associate drawing to be an art form. It most definitely can be one medium of art. However, structural drawings (for example), will display something to be purpose built out of necessity, instead of being born from creative juices being poured through a pencil out onto a page.

2010 National Medal of Arts recipient and all-time Graphic Design legend, Milton Glaser has been quoted on this topic as saying “Design is the process of going from an existing condition to a preferred one… Observe that there’s no relationship to art.” His point being that if and end design isa structured, thought out process and if looked at through an artistic eye, it can limit the designer to focusing on aesthetics and not how the finished product will work and what problems it may have to overcome; Things that the visuals will have little impact on.