What Is the Difference Between Art and Design?

Professionals who have worked in art and design for several years believe their jobs are different and similar. Some say art and design are similar. Others claim the two fields differ to some extent. Like companies, art and design are two unique subjects. While art provokes feelings and thoughts, design is a problem solver. 

Design must work systematically and feed on data. Art emerges from one’s instincts and enables users to derive unique meanings. Even though art and design might intersect, they are still two distinct subjects. To learn more about design vs. art differences, move to the following paragraphs with us. 

Design is an art, and art is design

Some scholars believe that design is an art and that art is design. They back their view using the definition of the word art. All historical definitions of art agree on one thing. Art is in every human culture. 

It also contains objects, experiences, and performances that artists intentionally create while focusing on aesthetics. In their view, design is art because it is in all human cultures; it enables us to create objects, experiences, and performances. Lastly, they claim that designers also consider aesthetics when doing their work.

Design is not art, and art is not design

Professionals who believe that art and design are distinct fields support their views in this manner: 

  • Design must fulfil function – First, they agree that art and design intersect at the aesthetics point. However, they say that the type of design we compare with art matters. Illustration Design or Graphic Design closely relates to art. On the other hand, industrial design and product design require the application of in-depth knowledge and tools. At this point, design and art go separate ways. Design should provide practical solutions to the problem at hand. A designer might apply more science than art. While aesthetics count when making a design, it has surface value. The designer must make their design functional. 
  • Designing follows a process – Before releasing a perfect design, a professional must start and finish a thought process. They must consider the target user, apply past case studies, the device intended to use the design, usability testing, validation, etc. If design were art, a UX designer would not have to consider all these factors, including preventing inconsistencies and errors. The design will be imperfect if the designer does not use research, apply relevant data, and test the final product before it gets to users.
  • Interpretation – Art is vague regarding interpretation. The artist creates something that provokes thoughts and feelings. They enable us to draw meaning from their work as we want. In contrast, designers are not vague in their work. They must convey real messages to the user to avoid confusion. Different users should derive the same meaning from a design. Hence, a design should offer consistency. Art does not have to. 
  • Standard rules – Artists work in a free world without standard rules. For a designer to create something consistent and easy to interpret, they should follow preset rules. People require designs to solve their problems, explaining why designers follow standard rules. Artists can follow their whims and still produce quality products. 

Lastly, design evolves while art does not. Designers must produce a prototype, test it with real people, collect feedback, and improve the design. After that, they should retest and improve the design until it looks good to the user. Hence, design evolves while art does not.