art vs design

Art vs Design – Compare and Contrast

Art and Design… We often hear those words together. Finding differences between art vs design can be difficult.

  • ‘Art’ is expression of human thought via any number of mediums.
  • ‘Design’ the logical arrangement of relevant things.

Art vs Design

Comprehending differences between art and design is the easy-part. Distinguishing between art / design when found together is the hard part. Fire cannot exist without fuel.

Primitive grunts evolved, becoming words then sentences.

Scribbles became symbols, pictures, and stories.

One could argue: There is no art without design or design without art.

Within even the strictest of laws, we find abnormalities. Even the most chaotic of expressions is rooted by some logical-anchor.

Another could argue: Art and Design are independent of each other but often exist symbiotically.


We design using quantified values implemented to achieve a purpose. Design should be useful. Everybody is free to interpret. The goal of a design is to bypass subjective interpretations and force acceptance, and/or encourage understanding.

Bridges and buildings are designed to resist gravity and protect their users. Media advertisements use graphic symbolism to conjure emotions, enticing viewers (or users) to make a purchase.

Street signs (often using graphical symbols) deliver relevant information… Signage also uses words, which use letters, which are symbols unto themselves. The white-space between letters and words forms a rhythm which can be used creatively.


Each of us has a unique definition for what we consider as art. Art is a means of expression. Society continues to grow in complexity, giving artists new ideas to express with their work.

Few would argue that Michelangelos’ fresco paintings and marble carvings at the Sistine-Chapel are not art… But during the Renaissance Michelangelo was ridiculed as vulgar for including genitalia in his works.

Maybe anything can be art. Maybe everything is art and it is up to each of us to decide what each piece is worth to us.

A work of art invites us to experience an idea or feeling. Art can fertilize interpretation and extrapolation. Art would celebrate the subjective, ephemeral, and hypothesized when design would test, refine, and apply them purposefully.

Art vs Design

There is art to a design and one can design aspects of art. Both art and design are meant to communicate. Art communicates indirectly whereas design communicates directly.

Art and Design are separate ideas but share common mediums.
Both art and design require a medium (stone, paint, electronic-screen) to become manifest.

One can carve a piece of stone artistically and/or as a design.

May the best art be well designed and the best designs keep art in mind.