There are key differences between a designer and an artist. In this blog, we will talk about those differences and some similarities between the two professions.
Similar or Dissimilar?
Both are creative beings with ideas on how to improve the design of the things around them and make the world a better place. The critical difference is that art is interpreted, whereas, on the other hand, good design must be understood. The artist often needs to be inspired to start working; this inspiration could be provided by a muse, but in extreme cases, it comes from starving or other difficult circumstances. The main pain point with this is the timing; the artist never knows when he/she will get inspired, but when it comes, the wonders of great art are created. On the design side, it’s more about putting in the hours; the designer often doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration. There are deadlines, often approaching very fast, so they may need to force the creative process to create something that, while not perfect, is good enough for the job. This way of doing things has its weaknesses, but the significant upside is the amount of work outputted and reliability of the designer.
It often happens that just starting to work on a design problem enables the designer to kickstart the creative process, and therefore, waiting for inspiration is not needed. Of course, there are days when even the best designer struggles to come up with a good design, but anyone can have a bad day at the office – just like in any job.
Let’s talk about money and goals for both artists and designers. The best artist is comfortable with little or no income for a long time; they are happy with their art and don’t need a lot of things. On the other hand, the designer craves the newest Apple product, camera or drone. Designers are often hungrier for success and more career-oriented than artists, they want a steady income with raises as they become more senior. But as we all know, an artist, once discovered, can make a whole lot of money in the long term. For example, a successful art gallery can bring in millions in one day – a designer rarely has this kind of gallery success.
If we look at the field of graphic design, we have two different beasts. In one corner we have the graphic designer, and in the other, the graphic artist. Most people do not realise that this differentiation exists. You probably recognise that some graphics designers make great web designs in no time but struggle with illustration, and vice versa. That’s because they are not the same type of designer/artist; they see the world differently, as described before.
The motivation behind a designer’s work is also different from the artist’s desire to create art. The designer is a pleaser; he/she wants to solve a problem, make things work and look nice. The artist, on the other hand, is often not problem-oriented; he/she just wants to create beautiful things even when there is no meaning (or it is hidden in his mind). Artists often create their masterpieces in moments of great depression or happiness – the emotional aspect is the main driver for art. That is one of the reasons that art needs to be interpreted and design understood.
If a design needs to be interpreted, it’s just bad design. The biggest goal in design is to design as little as possible. That’s not because it’s easier to design less stuff, it’s harder, but clarifying design to the point where you can’t take anything more away is the hardest skill to develop.
Great designs stand the test of time and are looking modern even 50 years after they were made.
To finish, then: Designer or Artist? Both are perfectly viable; it depends on what skills a person has and wants to develop. When you are searching for a designer, be sure you get the right type of artist for your project. Don’t expect everything in one person because, as you know, unicorns are rare.