This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan
The subject of what separates art and design is convoluted and has been debated for a long time.Artists and designers both create visual compositions using a shared knowledge base, but their reasons for doing so are entirely different.Some designers consider themselves artists, but few artists consider themselves designers.
So what exactly is the difference between art and design? In this post, we’ll examine and compare some of the core principles of each craft.
This is a subject that people have strong opinions about, and I’m looking forward to reading the various points of view in the comments.
This post isn’t a definitive guide, but rather the starting point for a conversation, so let’s be open-minded!
Good Art Inspires. Good Design Motivates.
Perhaps the most fundamental difference between art and design that we can all agree on is their purposes.
Typically, the process of creating a work of art starts with nothing, a blank canvas. A work of art stems from a view or opinion or feeling that the artist holds within him or herself.
They create the art to share that feeling with others, to allow the viewers to relate to it, learn from it or be inspired by it.
The most renowned (and successful) works of art today are those that establish the strongest emotional bond between the artist and their audience.
By contrast, when a designer sets out to create a new piece, they almost always have a fixed starting point, whether a message, an image, an idea or an action.
The designer’s job isn’t to invent something new, but to communicate something that already exists, for a purpose.
That purpose is almost always to motivate the audience to do something: buy a product, use a service, visit a location, learn certain information. The most successful designs are those that most effectively communicate their message and motivate their consumers to carry out a task.