The Crucial Difference Between Artists and Designers

Treatise #2

Artists and designers are considered to be related, but play vastly different roles. In this section we will explore the crucial differences between designers and artists. I believe that the difference between designers and artists is that designers are creating applied art, while artists are creating simply art. What does this mean? Art is an abstract expression or representative expression created using some creative means. This is the painter sitting down to paint a landscape, or a sculptor creating forms reflecting his personal experience or even themes in society. Each arise through an expression and interpretation by the artist. The artist, (disregarding commissioned pieces — a tension to be explored later) creates something out of his own self-direction.

More and more the line between the two is blurred

The designer, meanwhile, follows a similar process, but with a crucial difference. The designer has been hired to create something in a specific direction and for a specific purpose. It is here where lies the crucial distinction between artist and designer and the two begin to take very different paths in their work. Although the designer also creates something from his own expression, the designer’s expression is oriented towards a certain goal. And that goal, unlike the artist, if often a commercial one. Although the artist needs to sell work, the designer makes his living by selling designs for others from the very start. The designer must in some way subjugate him/herself to the commercial demands of his client in order to create. The designer must balance a tension of being an interpreter on some level while an artist on another.