I am NOT an Artist

I am not an artist

Yes,  I may be a graphic designer, but I am not an artist. As a designer, this has started to bother me a lot more lately. People will say “well you are artsy, you can _______”. I am a designer, I am not “artsy”

This whole journal may seem like I am ranting, but this gets on my nerves, and it bothers me more and more. This will bother good, professional designers too. If you call them an artist, they will probably strangle you. Why is this?

Let us turn to the reliable dictionary for a few answers. The Merriam Webster has multiple definitions that bring a very different meaning. The first one is “a person who creates art : a person who is skilled at drawing, painting, etc.”. This can apply to designers. They are skilled at designing brands and -, but do designers create art? The second definition is a lot broader. The second definition says an artist is “a person who is very good at something”, which could mean anything. We will stick with the first one because it applies to what we are talking about.

So do designers create art? Art is defined as “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings” which is design. Graphic design is a form of art, but at the same time it is completely different. You are creating something that expresses ideas and feelings, but with design, you are doing a lot more than that. The main focus of design is to deliver a message. Art does deliver a message. A painting may show the struggles the Aztecs faced against Cortes, but  is to make you look at something and not be able to take your eyes off of it. Design should be the same way, but your goal is to deliver a message. You are telling someone about an event, or a company, or a product. The look parts come second. Design is subtle. It is not meant to be the main focus. It is the supporting act in the grand scheme of things, it is just supporting the message and attracting the audience to read a message.

An artist focuses on making something look good. Designers do this too, but  is (or at least should be) to make sure that the message that needs to be heard is delivered in a clear, concise, way. The “art” part of design is used to bring the audience in. It is the tool, not the subject. Design uses art but it is a lot different from art. So don’t call designers artists. Call them what they are. They design things in order to draw you in to a message.


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