is graphic design art?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by shecky, Nov 11, 2008.


is graphic design art?

  1. yes

    48 vote(s)
  2. no

    20 vote(s)
  1. deriko100 macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2008
    New York
  2. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    Most certainly.

    If I can't do it, chances are there's art involved. :D
  3. ClassicFan macrumors member


    Nov 14, 2007
    I think it should be "Is graphic design fine art?".
  4. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    No, certainly not. Art works with completely different aims and means of expression. A piece of art doesn't need to justify its existence or even its purpose.

    Design is problem-solving, usually on behalf of someone else. Art can be commissioned but far more often than not, it isn't. That's not to say there's an art to successful design, but the two schools start a piece of work from two completely different places.

    Design is a craft. Often, a more interesting place to be and often more revealing of the culture in which it inhabits, than a piece of art.

    Art is purely subjective; its meaning can be elusive. The process and product of design invariably has an objective goal and a concrete meaning.

    With that said, bear in mind I started with art in school, then moved to design to get my diploma. Others who moved the other way, from design classes to art, probably see things differently. :D
  5. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    Art is the expression of yourself while design is the expression of a brand/product/etc..
  6. Yr Blues macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    I voted yes because fine-art started as design. A lot of primitive craft expressed certain cultural ideas that are transcendental.

    Looking towards the modern era I would say that cross-over artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and Andy Warhol blurred the line rather easily. A movement like De Stijl is also a convergent area.

    However I am hard pressed to find any design recently that I would consider fine-art. The closest IMO would be early David Carson and perhaps, to a lesser extent, Ed Fella—where the personality overcomes the commercial intent.
  7. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    Historically, most art was commissioned, and provided utility (i.e. a purpose). Bearing that in mind, I see no reason why graphic designs aren't art as well. We may not hang company logos on our walls today, but hundreds of years from now we just might see Target and Best Buy (and of course Apple) logos adorning family homes for their beauty.

    I suppose there's also a difference in the way the question could be posed: "is graphic design art" or "is graphic design an art."
  8. 63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    Sure, it's a type of art. I don't like to say one type of art is better than the other, though I have my preferences.

    I did meet a Klansman who worked for Lawrence Livermore Labs who only thought real art was art made by white Aryan people. I was astonished that there can be such ignorant people. And he had a PhD on top of it.

    Truly sad and shocking. Livermore is a rare California town that is secretly Klan friendly, as well as Sebastopol and Bakersfield and some others, but I was saddened to see such an educated man with those views, kind of like David Duke.

    He proceeded to tell me about all the KKK approved art.

    And yes, there is that famous commie art from China, and I knew a lady who lived the the "cultural revolution" under Mao. Man, talk about not being able to express yourself with art.

    Art is powerful and speaks volumes about who we are and sometimes what we believe and the far right or far left are terrified of artists. As long as art is alive, so is democracy.
  9. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Agreed. I suppose design is an applied art, as opposed to a fine art...

    I am always fascinated that people find this question interesting...

    Shecky quotes John Maeda in his sig, so I will quote him as well regarding this topic:

    "Who the **** cares!?"

    Of course, he told me that before he became president of RISD...
  10. iGav macrumors G3

    Mar 9, 2002
  11. opeter macrumors 65816


    Aug 5, 2007
    Slovenia, EU
    Yes it can be art, but only in the right hands. Every type of "fine art", was once applied art.
  12. LeviG macrumors 65816

    Nov 6, 2006
    Norfolk, UK
    Graphic design is not art but it does use art and techniques taken/learnt from it.
  13. dornoforpyros macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2004
    Calgary, AB

    Design has someone to answer to. Art is self indulgent. I mean both of those statements in the best way possible, it's just how I separate the two in my mind.
  14. AlexisV macrumors 68000


    Mar 12, 2007
    Manchester, UK
  15. Krebstar macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2008
    I've been mulling over this very often recently, and I think the problem I kept encountering was the term graphic design. It's much easier for me to say visual communications is not art, because in this current day and age, the term graphic design is becoming too hard to define. Not sure if that helps at all.

    The other main thing that I've always stated and heard, design has rules, art does not.

    Also, I think it can be argued that design can certainly be artistic, but art can not be design.
  16. 7on macrumors 601


    Nov 9, 2003
    Dress Rosa
    I think I shed a tear, it's beautiful
  17. n8mac macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2006
    I say art is subjective.

    Reminds me of an episode from an old show called 'Sanford & Son' from the 1970's in the USA. Fred and Lamont went on a tour in a museum. They came across a sculpture made out of metal and other materials. The tour guide explained what the artist was trying to convey and they just called it a pile of junk. Fred and Lamont found that the artist made a lot of money off this piece. So later Fred made his own sculpture out of things from his junk yard, called it art, and hoped to become rich from it. He hoped to start his own tour for his art. He had the tour guide come and judge it and she called it junk. Fred said "how can you call this junk when it looks exactly like the sculpture in the museum?"

    So they each had different views of what art was. The original artist was trying to convey a message (fine art) and Fred was trying to make a buck (commercial art) yet both pieces looked similar.
  18. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2004
    No, because you can feed your family as a graphic designer. TJK.:D

    In all seriousness, sure why not. Art isn't pigeonholed into a certain category. It's a form of art. It's like sports... you have a focus, just like you can in the art world. I've seen some amazing digital art in my day and I call them artist just as I would someone who painted a portrait. It's just different media.
  19. Yr Blues macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Just to throw an idea out there, I think fine-art as it is today is more of a whore than graphic design. "Artists" often chase trends to satisfy the collector's market.

    Only superstar-artists have the funding to realize grand projects like those of Damien Hirst. Creating art to support their celebrity lifestyle. Warhol created the factory to meet the demand in New York—somewhat like artists that were commissioned by the church many centuries ago.

    Fine art should be an ambiguous thing that continues to challenge us so that we can continue to explore our human nature.

    Like the poster said somewhere above, who cares?
  20. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    Again, historically almost all art was commissioned by either the church or royal families. Would a work by Jan van Eyck, for example, not be art?
  21. a cat *miaow* macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2007
    No, I would compare it to writing: the difference between say an essay and poetry.. a piece of art is self fulfilling whereas design is communicating an idea.

    There are of course artists which choose to use a graphic style but 'graphic art' shouldn't be confused with 'graphic design'.
  22. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    It depends on what purpose it serves but most graphic design is not art. Its a trade with no purpose other than to sell something. Some people get butt hurt when someone says what they do isnt art but its usually the truth. People also confuse illustration vs art a lot. I hate how people put "art" on a pedestal like its some elite thing, its just a word, being called an illustrator instead of an artist is not an insult.
  23. macfearless macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2008
    not in louisiana! :D
  24. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

    Mar 10, 2005

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