One day, in deep thought, I said to myself, “All graphic design is art – but not all art is graphic design.” I’m not sure I totally agreed with this. Was I being narcissistic? Or was this my id trying to make me feel more accomplished despite my inadequacies as a painter? I began to argue that side to see what evidence I could come up with to support such a wild accusation.
First I had to define what I considered “art” and “design.” (Sticking with the visual, tangible sense of both terms) I defined art as being anything that is created for its aesthetics, and design as solving a problem aesthetically. Art conveys an emotional message while design conveys an instructive message.
How aggressive each demands participation from its audience can very. You know when you see Munch’s The Scream that it conjures feelings of anxiety and fear. But you may not right away know why you feel a particular way while looking at a particular Jackson Pollock. Just as when you see a car dealership ad, you know it’s telling you to buy a new car. But you may not be aware that the layout of the magazine you’re reading is telling you to keep turning to pages.
As an artist, you’re free to express yourself however you choose in anyway you want. To be a graphic designer means you put the needs of your client and their message above your own artistic person preferences. This isn’t to say a designer needs to be a robot churning out formulaic material. Once they have figured out what their goal is, they can then figure out how best to accomplish it and how aggressive they want their work to be.
Art is a Miles Davis playing with John Coltrane in Amsterdam. Graphic design is a Brahms’ Violin Concerto being performed in D major. It doesn’t mean one is more correct or important than another. Both are beautiful in their own right. As long as it is effective at what it’s trying to accomplish why can’t they coexist peacefully?
What’s your take on this graphic design and art debate?