The Design Query

When I hear the terms “art” and “design,” I tend to think of two different things.  I believe the two words are often complements to each other, but individually they differ.  There is the art of design, and a design can be art, but I believe you can usually have one without the other.  When I think of art, I either think of something that is aesthetically pleasing to one person or another, but I also tend to think of it being an individual’s free expression in a visual form.   When I think of design, I tend to think more about how something is set up rather than whether it is visually appealing or not.  In many cases I believe that there is art in design in the sense that design allows an individual to express his/her feelings and create something that is visually appealing, but it is not always the case.  I tend to think of art as a more “free” form of expression, whereas design is usually taking predetermined elements and arranging them.  However, one could argue that if an artist and a designer were given the same resources they would both be expressing their own designs in an attempt to create something that is visually appealing, so I certainly understand how the two terms could be taken as the same.  But, all things equal, I feel that design tends to be more about structure whereas art tends to be more about free expression.

Looking at some of the popular terms used to describe art and design, I can see where these terms are applicable for both words, but I do believe that a few can be grouped as exclusive to one word or the other.  I feel that “monetary compensation,” “form,” “commission,” and “meaning” are all very applicable to both since there is the ability to be compensated for both.  Also, everything we do in this world has some form of meaning behind it, and anything visual has to have form.  However, the other “buzz” words are a little less ambiguous.  For me, “self-expression” and “aesthetics” automatically trigger thoughts of art.  Art usually does not have the limitations that a design may (i.e. I tend to think of design as applying to something within a confined space; be that paper, a home, etc…).  Art also tends to focus on being appealing to a larger audience, which is where aesthetics claim a little more important.  In making that argument I actually realized that aesthetics applies to both because a design is usually meant to be appealing to a larger audience as well, so it is impossible to say that it only applies to art.  Finally, “function” is a word that makes me exclusively think of design because whether it be a house, website, or paper, the design of anything always has some purpose to be functional.  For a website it needs to be usable, and for a home it needs to be a place that people can live in.  Art does not always need to have a rhyme or reason for where things are positioned, and I think that could severely inhibit function.  While all of these terms can be applied to both art and design, I don’t think they all necessarily do apply to both.

In terms of how I approach art and design, I tend to feel that there is not enough time in the world to make me an artist.  However, I feel like with enough training I could become a successful designer.  I am not saying that art is completely innate, but I think it requires a different mindset.  No matter how hard I try, I still question whether my artistic ability would ever become good enough to create a picture that I would proudly hang in my home.  I would much rather pay for somebody to create something of high quality for me (though this certainly removes the aspect of being proud of said art).  I would certainly be concerned about its quality relating to getting my money’s worth, but it is hard to objectively judge how much art is worth.  In terms of design, I believe I could design my own home well enough with proper resources that I would not need to pay anybody else to do it.  If I did choose to outsource the work to a third party, I would still have the same concern as buying artwork because I still want to get the most out of my purchase.

After reviewing what I have said thus far, I realize that I think much more as a design-oriented person than an art-oriented one.  When I buy a car I am certainly looking at function over style, but I cannot deny that I want a nice looking car.  However, when it really comes down to the decision, the car needs to get me from point A to B safely and efficiently.  The fact that I want a nice looking car still being a consideration does tell me that I do have concern for art as well.  In any purchase I would tend to buy an item that looks nice as well as functions, and when function is equal the aesthetic appeal is certainly my next influencing factor (outside of price).  I cannot actually think of something that I have bought that I thought was ugly initially because I tend avoid buying anything that I feel may not fit my taste.  I have had the opposite effect where I have purchased things (clothes in the past seems to be a good example) that I think look nice at the time, but for whatever reason I don’t wear them as often as I thought I would.  I have gotten better at not making such decisions, likely because I put more thought into them.  Overall, while I place a high value on functionality, I do find myself seeing the aesthetic appeal as important as well.  In terms of art and design I feel like that makes me a design first, artistic appeal second type of person, but I would certainly be open to someone playing devil’s advocate and saying both influence my decision because they are the same.

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