Absolutely. The trick is in the definition. A number of artists and designers and bloggers have piped up over the course of many years to offer their opinions, and especially recently over the internet, so it’s easy to find what the prevailing thoughts are. And it’s been quite a debate.
Let me distill the high points for you.
Some of the characteristics of the Artist are that they are working with a personal vision with no or few rules; the work is subjective and they create their own formula or symbols. There is often an emotional component or an attempt to connect with the observer. Sometimes no client is necessary, as they often produce the work for its own sake.
By contrast, the Designer is working with what is often called “Applied Art.” The vision comes from the client, who sets up the parameters for the work. There is a problem to be solved, and a calculated process to meet an objective, using established formulas or symbols. It often carries a purpose or function, such as communicating a message or helping a customer take action. It is more commercial, and it is most likely the type of work seen in advertising.
Many artists are designers and many designers are artists. The line between the two can become blurred, however. I use to paint watercolor renderings of dramatic characters in stage costumes. I considered my renderings, although done as a “costume designer” with certain restrictions in mind as I painted, to be art pieces. Today I concentrate on client-directed projects involving layout of marketing materials that connect with customers. There are elements of both art and design in both examples, but today my work is more in the realm of Design than in the realm of Art.
Two phrases from two different bloggers said it best for me: A woman named Rebecca said, “Design is art made to specifications, on time, and within budget.” And writer Rishi says, “Art cannot exist without design. Design cannot evolve without art.” How true.
If you’re looking for a designer who approaches design as art made to client specifications and you have a project that needs that approach, give me a call. Close collaboration with clients is the hallmark of a good designer, and I’ve been doing that since 1981. Let me do the same for you.