What Is The Difference Between ‘Art’ And ‘Graphic Design’?

There is a lot of argument and opinion surrounding the art and graphic design industries – after all, many people would consider the work done by designers as being artistic, whereas the art circles would scoff at such a belief. Whilst the two areas have many similarities, it is their differences that set them apart. In taking this idea a step further, here are some of the differences explained:

Art is said to inspire, whilst graphic design is said to motivate.

When an artist begins a project, they generally start with a blank canvas (essentially, nothing). A designer, on the other hand, almost always begins with a starting point (an idea, an image, a message or an action).

Art is interpreted by audiences, whereas graphic design is understood.

When someone views a work of art, they will connect with it in a different way to the person standing next to them (because the work has been made to be interpreted). In contrast to this, design is supposed to convey a particular message.

‘Good’ art is all about taste, whilst ‘good’ graphic design is all about opinion.

When a critic judges a work of art, they will do so based on their opinion, which is, fundamentally, governed by their taste. Whilst there may be a small element of taste involved in judging a design, however, telling the different between good and bad is ultimately a matter of opinion.

Art is a talent, whereas graphic design is a skill.

In most cases, an artist has a natural ability for drawing or painting or sculpting – it is something that they are born with and not taught. A designer, however, is taught everything that they need to know in order to be skillful in their work.

Art will send a different message to everyone, whilst graphic design will send everyone the same message.

Really, this point falls underneath the one about interpretation and understanding – but it is a point that should be reiterated all the same. Some designers may consider themselves artists but, at the end of the day, this is not the case because their aim is to convey a particular message.

Whilst there can be no denying that an overlap does exist between the realms of art and graphic design, the reality of the situation is that there are plenty of differences that set them apart. At the end of the day, art is certainly much more personal and adept at evoking emotion than design, which is more suited to appealing to a wide audience.


Author: John K. Taylor