Art Design: Settling the Debate Between Art and Design

Is design art? Or are they two separate entities?

For as long as the have two coexisted, artists and designers debate about whether design is an art. The two are similar in their pursuit of creating visual compositions. But their motives driving their creation are different. Thus, the two debate about art design. Are designers also artists?

When it comes to motives, artists and designers are worlds apart. People confuse the two as they often incorporate elements of each other’s’ worlds – such as a designer making an artistic chair. However, designers share more elements from art than vice versa. Many designers consider themselves artists, but the same is not true for artists.

Designers focus on function. The result of design is much less subjective than that of art. Design isn’t meant to be for self-expression. Many say that the best designers are those who don’t self-express. However, what makes for “good” design is both quality and quantity. Quantity, in this case, refers to how useful the item is. It’s quality that makes the distinction foggy.

Quality is where design becomes an art. Quality is the attractiveness of a design. Attractiveness is an art motive because it’s subjective. Attractiveness evokes emotion. Design doesn’t work with the same broad approach to emotion as most art. But it uses emotion to achieve its purpose, making design an art.

Art design in everyday life

Mercedes Benz is one company that considers their design to be synonymous with art. Mercedes art design represents their newest vehicles and their innovative technology. They create “ an automobile of liquid silver was being created, or a shimmering cloth was gently draped over a newly conceived design”. They try to evoke the feeling of the future and organic beauty. Mercedes is about authenticity mixed with drama, style, and passion. This is art.

When it comes to furniture and home design, 2016 and 2017 trends have experienced a huge artistic shift. In 2016, colors and furniture design was used to provide calming, peaceful feelings. They did this through quiet hues and soft shapes with natural textures. Designers focused on providing a serene environment for the busy individual to unwind in. To do this, they achieved their purpose by using art.

Color is a huge part of how design and art intertwine. Color alone effects the subconscious and makes you feel and think a certain way. For example, doctors’ offices and hospitals aren’t white because of laziness. White promotes feelings of neutrality and sterility. Because it’s easy to see dirt on white, it’s also used by hospitals so patients can easily see if it’s clean in there.

How is art design used in music?

Music uses the same principles of furniture to achieve an emotional purpose. Music hooks customers by using emotion. They create a connection to draw people in. This causes them to form a relationship to the music. Music albums incorporate clever cover designs and color to send a message. This tells their customer the kind of music they’re getting before they even press play.


In the above image, Britney Spears’ albums reflect her pop music style. However, even in dark-dominant album covers like the bottom right, the mood is high. Here, the imagery is bright and features Britney smiling and a neon graphic. The albums that contain more emotional, deep music reflect in the covers. These have darker colors and a more serious design. Baby One More Time is a very upbeat pop album, showing in the cover art. Color, light, and art design indicate the overall tone of the songs.

To contrast Britney’s pop music, let’s take a look at AC/DC’s albums.

Art Design Classic Rock Music
Source: Ultimate Classic Rock

AC/DC is a much more fast paced, heavier band. To show this, their albums incorporate dark colors and high contrast. They also show an aura of chaos by having very busy, actionable imagery. Somebody is always doing something in the images. They aren’t just posing prettily. While one artist is not inherently better than the other (objectively, though many readers may disagree), both types of music convey different moods and attitudes that are reflected in their album art.

Design is art.

There are multiple staunch differences between the fields of art and design. Mainly, these have to do with the way that others use artists and designers. They don’t speak exclusively to the difference in the actual craft. There are 6 main differences:

  • The end products are different. Designers create something to communicate a design to a producer. Artists create something to be pleasing or emotional to a viewer. One is a cog in a wheel. The other is an entire team on their own.
  • Artists solve problems they want to. Designers solve problems a client wants them to.
  • Both are craftsmen. However, designers need to have their ideas be clearly understood and communicated. Artists do not.
  • Interaction with art is passive or otherwise minimal. Interactions with design happens on a regular basis.
  • Artists make things for decoration, story telling, or to convey an idea. Designers make products to be used for specific functions.
  • An artist creates art for selling of the originals. A designer creates products usually for mass production.

Many considered them to be two separate entities. But designers and artists in the past century blur the line dividing the two. No longer is design separate from art, and art separate from design. While the two have a different more dominant purpose, both incorporate to achieve a certain result. The biggest difference is that art does not need design. But design always needs art.

Despite their differences, design and art are siblings. Design uses art, and art uses design. The public uses them each differently. But at the core, the premise of them both is to create something new from an idea. Because of this, they are more alike than they are different. After all, functionality doesn’t have much value without attractiveness. Homes don’t provide us with the atmosphere we need to relax without designers using art. They get us to our emotional zen place. Design is art.

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