Artist vs Designer

Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I recently had a conversation with my best friend regarding the difference of being an Artist and a Designer. I haven’t gave it much deeper thought honestly but she asked me if I also consider myself an Artist, I thought about it for a while and explained my own definition of both profession/passion.

For me, Artists create artworks while Designers create designs. While both terms are easily interspersed with each other - they actually mean two different things. Artworks fall under the traditional painting, drawings, freehand illustration and outputs from photographs to sculptures. Design however is much broader in scope. It can mean design of information / interface / architecture / interior / graphic / etc…

Designers conform to set standards (like metrics, codes, accessibility, guidelines) that Artists are not constrained to. You don’t confine art with theories or any of those usability “standards”. Art is what you make of it! (awesome right?)

I also expressed a rough thought that Artists create artworks that may or may not have representational meaning for the viewers. This is opposite to a Designer’s goal. An artwork may make sense for the creator but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the general public reflects the same enthusiasm and understanding to the concept behind the artwork.

While Artists freely reflect their inner-self to their creations without considering any outside factors, Designers are required to be connected with the users at all times and to understand the form and function of the product being designed. The decision-process doesn’t come out of nowhere; but entails researching, planning and experience to make great designs communicate its purpose fit for the need.

Artists express their message through their artworks. Designers, on the other hand, should be problem-solvers. Some would say that Art is for other artists. Design is for everyone else

While I consider myself a full-fledge Designer, I also partly consider myself an experiential Artist. An amalgam of both qualities with the artist-side taking the backseat as I really don’t have any formal training and expertise on a specific traditional art. Probably a safe answer you may say but a hybrid of both means being a problem-solver but not constrained by standards. Thinking “out of the box” but not doing things that only I could understand and use.

There will be an obvious deeper and different interpretations of both terms. I think we can all agree that Art and Design has been and is still an integral part of our everyday life whether we like it or not. What’s important is we never stop creating and appreciating both.

How about you? Do you consider yourself a Designer or an Artist? or a mixture of both? Let me know your thoughts.

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