The difference between design and art.

I find it quite unfortunate that so many people don’t understand the difference between design and art.

It is even more upsetting that artists often get to use design as a verb to describe what they do. I think the lack of a general verb that describes the process of creating art is serious flaw with the English language.

Maybe we can make up a word of our own? Arting or maybe Artising? What do you think?

10 thoughts on “The difference between design and art.”

  1. The key thing that differentiates design from art is that design is about solving problems.

    Art is purely about expression and doesn’t take into consideration the needs or goals of the audience.

    I’m not saying the two aren’t closely related. In some respects they are very similar. I’m also not saying that the product of a design process can’t have aesthetic appeal, but I’m also not saying that aesthetic appeal is inherent in art.

    I don’t think there’s anything mysterious or difficult about design. It’s simply the application of common sense. I just think that if a problem experienced by the audience (or the customer, user, whomever…) isn’t being solved, then you should use a word other than design to describe what you do.

    The trouble I run into is that people who aren’t artists or designers often don’t understand the difference between the two because artists often use the word design to describe their work. For example, “I designed the pattern on that fabric.” It seems specious to use the word design to describe the work done to create (for lack of a better word) the pattern on fabric.

    Thanks for prompting the clarification, Joshua. Hopefully I’ve made my point more clear. Please post your thoughts.

  2. Right, what is needed is a word for creating a solution for a particular audience with a particular problem as well as a word for creating art (as personal expression). The challenge is that much art is created as a personal experession. The problem to solve is expressing an emotion and the audience at hand could be the world-at-large or my friends. In this way, Art is Design. Hence the reason the word design is used in both cases. Design of the art kind is a more popular and stronger connation in the “public community.” 🙂

  3. Yes, I would agree that they’re different ideas, but can a product of design also be considered a product of art? Often it’s not the intention for something to have the qualities of both design and art, but sometimes it just ends up that way.

    You mentioned that the product of a design process could have aesthetic appeal – or is that artistic appeal? If you look up “aesthetic” in a thesaurus, you’re very likely to come across “artistic.” No, they’re not the same thing but they’re not completely different either.

    In web design, the job of a graphic designer is often to solve a problem visually (even though the job is usually better suited to an IA). Some do it much better than others. Whether they can solve the problem effectively or not isn’t my point. Good graphic designers always keep the aesthetic (artistic) value of their work in mind, no matter what they do.

    In this case, if the problem experienced by the audience isn’t being solved, then I agree, you should not call it design. You should call it poor design. But it sure can be nice to look at.

  4. (Note: I deleted the first few comments to keep the discussion focused.)

    It sounds like we agree that there is indeed a language problem here. Now what we need is someone who’s good at making up words.

    Anyone got any ideas? Where’s George W. when we need him?

  5. Blah blah… You seem upset that others are using a word that you want exclusive rights to. Why don’t you make up a word for what you do instead? The rest of the world is not likely to stop using a word that everybody already accepts has more than one definition.

  6. Frankly, I don’t care what is or is not likely.

    About your suggestion: there already IS a word for what I do: design.

    I don’t want exclusive rights to the word design, I just want people to use it correctly. Creating a general verb that describes the process of creating art, I think, will help people use the correct word at the correct time.

  7. Well, art and design are different. The differences between art and design lie not so much in how they look as in what they do: They have different purposes, they are made differently, they are judged by different criteria, and they have different audiences.
    The difference between art and design is in the way we look at them.
    can we get some specific definition or comparison of art and design……….?

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