DESIGN IS ART! OR IS IT ?….. (Part 1)

While working on one of my design assignments I had an argument in my mind. Is design an art? Should I be known as an artist?  If not then what actually I am doing here? How art differs from design and vice versa? With all these question suddenly crawling in my mind there was no point in working on the assignment anymore. I decided to do a research and find more about this topic. Soon I was right in the middle of a crazy debate on art vs design. Lets start with Keith Frankel who is the head of HUBSPOT creative team what are his views about Artists vs Designers :

Before you grimace at that statement, just take a moment to hear me out. I promise, I’m not insulting designers by denying their status as artists; in fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, you can appreciate and respect design in the same way you do works of art. And yes, many designers are artists in their spare time. In the end though, design serves a very distinct and altogether different role. Rather than focusing primarily on form or expression (as is often the case with art), the primary purpose of design is the exact opposite — to support function.

In one of articles Keith has mentioned that, Unfortunately, there is a terrible misconception that good design is flashy or ornate. Even worse, that it should be loud or “eye-catching.” This misunderstanding has directly contributed to the designer vs. artist dilemma, and couldn’t be further from the truth. The successful designs satisfy presenting and highlighting your content without calling attention to the highlight itself. Good design isn’t necessarily loud or ornate. In fact, it is often completely invisible.”

design vs artNow this was getting interesting and I started to dig deep to get more views. I found an article of Craig A Elimelia. According to Craig:

“Design in the commercial sense is a very calculated and defined process; it is discussed amongst a group and implemented taking careful steps to make sure the objectives of the project are met. A designer is similar to an engineer in that respect and must not only have an eye for color and style but must adhere to very intricate functional details that will meet the objectives of the project. The word “design” lends itself to a hint that someone or something has carefully created this “thing” and much planning and thought has been executed to produce the imagery or materials used for the project.”

And for the art aspect of this article Craig adds, “Art is something completely separate—any good artist should convey a message or inspire an emotion it doesn’t have to adhere to any specific rules, the artist is creating his own rules. Art is something that can elicit a single thought or feeling such as simplicity or strength, love or pain and the composition simply flows from the hand of the artist. The artist is free to express themselves in any medium and color scheme, using any number of methods to convey their message. No artist ever has to explain why they did something a certain way other than that this is what they felt would best portray the feeling or emotion or message.”

In the article Craig did mention something really important:

“I can completely appreciate the paths laid down by past artists who establish a style or method but at this point it seems that when that style or method is used the art then turns into design. I looked through some older books and saw a rather obvious occurrence in the art being displayed, many of the newer artists were simply copying things from the past. I admire a person’s talent for picking up a brush and creating an image that has an impact on its viewer but when I see it over and over again by different people who are all claiming to be “of the school of…,” and that this is legitimate, unique art, I find that a bit hard to swallow. If the artist said, “I have designed something in the standard of Picasso,” and this is simply a design based on his style but a new twist has been added, then I would feel more comfortable accepting it for what it is, a design.”

Now just to take a break from this solemn debate I can tell you some reasons Why You Should Not Date a Graphic Designer:

  •  They drink and eat all kinds of weird things just because they like the packaging.
  •  They do not know how to add and subtract, they just understand letters.
  •  They hate Excel.
  •  They can’t go to a restaurant without secretly critiquing the menu design.
  •  They are very weird people.

Ok lets move back to our topic. In one of her interesting posts Elise Leveque explained this difference in a very effective way:

“A key difference between the pragmatic functions of art and design is how the messages of each are interpreted by their specific audiences and demographic.An artist will generally create a work with the intention of conveying a viewpoint, emotion, state of mind, or visceral feeling – but their work generally can’t be restricted to conveying one particular thought or one particular meaning. In other words, an artist’s creations are open to interpretation and may evoke a myriad of meaning to a variety of people. It connects to people differently because it’s interpreted differently.”

The writer describes the design part

“On the exact opposite side of the spectrum, it’s often been said that if any kind of graphic design can be ‘interpreted’ in any way, it’s failed in its purpose.   An effective piece of design should communicate a specific message and motivate the spectator to do something.  Graphic design should have a very specific intent – there should be no room for multiple meanings or mixed messages; it should be understood immediately by the viewer.”

I am not going to copy the whole article here( although it is worth doing so) but you can read this wonderful article of Elise and other articles at the links given at the end of this post.

I will keep on doing this research and find more about it. Meanwhile you guys can share your views too. You can comment or write your own blog and send me the link.


  1. For Elise’s article:
  2. For 50 reasons not to date a graphic designer:
  3. For Keith’s Article:
  4. For Craig’s article:



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