Piqued by the inquiry of a high school parent, I’ve been muddling over this question in my mind for a while now; what is the difference between art and design?
A few weeks ago I posed the question to Gabe Tippery; the Academic Advisor for Ohio State University’s Department of Design. His response seemed simple yet right on target. To paraphrase his words; given a blank piece of paper, an artist will create something that comes from within them, something they feel the need to express. Designers, on the other hand, mostly need a problem to solve in order to put pen to paper.
Gabe isn’t the only one with this mindset. In researching the question I found numerous opinions on the subject that support his theory. To define it in a bit more detail:
Artists are driven to share their thoughts and ideas, period. They’re inspired and motivated to express themselves without boundaries imposed by others. My husband and I call it “art for art’s sake.”
On the other side of the spectrum are our problem-solving designers. They begin with boundaries, and a need for their creativity to spur others into action. They incentivize people to purchase a product, use a service, feel a particular feeling about a space, or learn new information.
Many colleges and universities will divide their art programs into a fine arts division and a design division. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take courses across the divide. In fact, learned skills from both can only help build your comprehensive understanding of the creative environment. A good designer cannot be void of artistic talent, and a fine artist’s creativity will come through along whatever career path he or she travels.
For me, I definitely live in both worlds. How about you?