Design !== Art

An opinion is a form of idea that should take a slow paced growth pattern. Taking in many different angles of theory and supporting facts to slowly become a view one holds concerning a particular way the world works. Opinions can then become more full fledged beliefs when the idea has manifested itself into the base world view of the thinker.

I've recently been growing a strong opinion about a dichotomy that's not clearly defined in the communication of Design. And this opinion seems to be coming at a time when there's a fair amount of conversation about a cognitive shift in the nature of Design on the web. A few different post's I've read recently and conversations I've had have brought this to the point I wanted to jot down some thoughts.

Yaron Schoen does a terrific job articulating a base point I think very many of us in the Design community have been confusing for some time now. There is a major difference between the disciplines of Art and Design, and far to often - We don't clearly communicate them. Myself included.

The only viable way I can imagine working this out clearly in my head, is making personal, work-in-progress definitions of each of these ideas. What is Art? What is Design? (note: I've done no formal definition research before writing these)

What is Art?

Art is the creation of the subjective. Art is the process by which humanity communicates shared values.

What is Design?

Design is the process by which subjective problems move toward an objective solution.

These are wide ranging definitions. More or less, both sides can still be argued very clearly. But, creating this divide in the sand is a helpful place for starting conversations about tools, skillsets and understanding how we can work together to solve problems. It's difficult to hear people who are incredibly gifted at Art or, what we like to call Graphic Design, continue to refer to their work as Design.

This is definitely not a new conversation. Joshua Porter has explored this idea in depth as well as many others. He uses some words that fall into the middle zone. The general fields of Communication Design or Visual Design that umbrella skills like Illustration, Typography, Iconography - Are, in my opinion, pieces of Art that happen to fall into a toolset that can be used by Design. The are not Design in themselves.

I don't have any specific direction for these ideas to go, I simply want to encourage you, as a designer or artist to think more clearly about what your talents are, what your skills are, and to be able to more clearly articulate them. Every Artist and Designer has a certain amount of skill juice in each compartment, the combination of them making us each unique.

Posted April 2013