Design Is Not Art
Posted on 23 Jun 1999
by Brandon Edwards (brandon)
Rated 3.78 (Ratings: 2)
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Designers are not artists. They can be, but the immediate relation between the two is somewhat opaque. Unfortunately, most people confuse design with art, which does a disservice to both designers and artists.
Art transcends design. It transcends purpose and function. Hell, art can transcend anything. It communicates unto a person. It, until the advent of the Internet, was primarily one-way. As if defining art wasn't self-defeating enough, the whole idea if interactive and digital art makes the definition entirely more difficult. Art reaches into you, pulls out your heart, disturbs you sometimes, frightens you sometimes, occasionally makes you laugh. Simply put, it brings about true emotions.
Design, however, is theoretically limited by purpose and function. It serves to present, but not distract from, the content in a functional and pulling (preferably innovative) way. The question still remains though, to define where content ends and design begins (but that topic is for another day). The "Art" in this industry is the content. Not the layout. Design is the presentation of the content.
I have especially seen many neophytes do this. They get their hands on a graphic program and a WYSIWYG editor and think the rest is easy. And they find themselves going in circles because they are not aware of what they are trying to accomplish. And it is very discouraging to most who think that these skills are computer generated. They are not, and it only makes it harder on the apprentice, and unfortunately it gives the experts something to moan about.
The artist who starts out thinking he/she can translate art into design is facing a rough path. Whether it be web design or print design, the artist can not expect instant 'ability'. Becoming a proficient designer, let alone a skilled one, is a totally different genre of study. After that it can be broken into old and new media. Learning the computer, as it were. User Interaction, etceteras, all make for very nice looking 'layouts'. But art? The reason this is even an issue right now is because of people like me (and those I think much more skilled than I) who already have design experience and are pushing the limits of what art is. That doesn't make it any easier for the novice who wants to 'jump right in'.
If you want to create design that communicates and expresses yourself and make money for it, well, good luck. Most clients aren't in to that; that's why you have a personal site, right? If you want to be creative about it, if you want to make what you call your 'design' your statement, in other words, if you want to design a web page so utterly fabulous it will drive people mad with envy and glory, then fine. You're not designing. You're making art.