art & ethics

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art & ethics

Graphic Design is Art

June 23rd, 2015 · No Comments · Uncategorized


Graphic design is a form of art that uses computer aided images to make designs for commercial and private markets. Most designers design things like labels, packaging, and even clothing graphics. Art is a process of designing and completing works of art on canvas, mixed media, sculpture, and photography. Both forms of art can utilize facets of one another to incorporate into their final pieces. Art and design are related, both are unique and original, yet they are both different in some ways. Design is an art, though there are some differences.

Some people believe that graphic design is too commercialized to be an art form. They feel that because it is a method of designing work for clients, that it is not an art form.  As designers, we are confronted with the argument that the work we do isn’t really art, because the work we design is labeled as “commercial.”  Yet the solutions we create, are almost always based on art and design principles taught everywhere. What  I learned in art school helped me improve my own design talents. As a designer, I started my first semester drawing class with choosing a random paint of picasso’s paintings and turning it into something creative. I chose to draw a painting of two young girls with using cotton, real hair, candy and napkins. This experience thought me how artists use their talent to draw and how designers think and create.

In the article “Art v.s. Design”, Craig Elimeliah discusses how design is very calculated and defined. Elimeliah states, “A designer is similar to an engineer in that respect and must not only have an eye for color and style but must adhere to very intricate functional details that will meet the objectives of the project. The word “design” lends itself to a hint that someone or something has carefully created this “thing” and much planning and thought has been executed to produce the imagery or materials used for the project.” (Elimeliah, pg 1). Design is very careful and accurate, and they use strategic planning, but this does not mean that the artistic side is completely drained from design. Design in all respects is very artistic. Though art and design have their differences they are still very closely related. For example designers and artist both create unique works of art, and they both use their own original ideas. Elimeliah wants to believe since design is more like engineering, that it is unoriginal and not made to be artistic.

But one can look at many things that were created by designers and see how artistically talented they are. There are many times when a graphic designer and an artist will work together to create a graphically designed piece of work for a musician. The same can go for t-shirt designs and so on. Elimeliah makes it a point to show the differences between the two by stating how art is emotional, creation without no rules, and create through expression of their feeling in any medium and color scheme. (Elimeliah, pg 1). One believes that Elimeliah is correct that art can be different, but again they share many of the same ideas. Graphic designers have to stick to certain rules and limitations given by the client, but they still have room to make design decisions in color, layout, and the subject matter. One believes that design is much more like art, than it is engineering as Elimeliah presumes.

Some design can be used for exhibitions in museums like that in the article “Review Graphic Design; If It’s Commercial, Is It Really Art?” Andy Grundberg discusses how graphic design has made a move into exhibiting in museums, and how the definition of art has changed. In the article Grundberg states, “Where painting and sculpture once prevailed in splendid isolation, a raft of art forms now commands equal attention from galleries and museums: architecture, film, performance, photography, video and, most anomalously, graphic design.” (Grundberg, pg 1). The arena of art has changed to include many things that were once not thought of as art, and now graphic design has been added to this list. Grundberg talks about how graphic design has made its way into exhibition through “Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History”, which features over five hundred graphically designed art pieces that have been made throughout history.

According to Mildred Friedman, the organizer of the exhibit and long time design curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Museum of Modern Art, graphic design is an invisible art to most of the public. They do not pay attention to see the art of the packaging on a box of cereal, or the sign on the freeway, they would not consider this art. Though it is not the mission of the exhibit to state that it is art, but to merely give people the chance to make up their own mind about the art form. Grundberg believes that the exhibition of graphically designed products is a chronological history of both good and bad designs. The conclusion that Grundberg reaches is that graphic design is an art form that uses elements of commercial design to create long lasting art pieces for the global community. Graphic design is art, but because it is commercially driven, most people do not pay attention to the designs that are all around them. The art on cereal boxes, on water bottles, the music they listen too. Graphic design is everywhere. If society were to look hard enough and pay attention they would notice the intricately designed art that is all around them. Grundberg feels that the exhibition for graphic design may have been a little careless, but he believes that great designers like Beall and Rand have given design a name, and their stylistic influence has made it much more of an art. Grundberg states, “stylistic masters like Beall and Rand, who were able to put their individual stamps on projects. This may explain why the show slights print advertising, which has been probably the most pervasive example of commercial visual culture in this century.” (Grundberg, pg 2). One agrees that Beall and Rand made graphic design more of an art form. Today graphic design uses a lot of different technology to put together designs for industry professionals. For example, wacom tablets which have made drawing easier for graphic artist, because they can use the tablet to draw directly into the software.

In conclusion, one believes that graphic design is art, even though they may create designs for commercial use and use technology to make them, they still use their artistic talents to create wonderful and artful designs. Art encompases a lot of areas, though most include painting, sculpture and creating from emotion, art and design are not that different. The only really difference is that usually artist work alone, where a graphic designer works for a firm and is part of a team. There is an advantage to being a team member and using other people’s creative intellect to form an idea that will become a graphically designed art piece. Graphic designers have to also work in a fast paced environment, and work on designs to have them ready in the allotted time given by the customer. This is why most work is done with the aid of a computer. But even then, their is still art created through design.

Works Cited

Elimeliah, C. “Art v.s. Design” 2006. AIGA. Web. 14th June, 2015.

Grundberg, A. ““Review/Graphic Design; If It’s Commercial, Is It Really Art?”. 1990. New York

Times. Web. 14th June, 2015.



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