I consider myself an artist as well as a graphic designer. Since I often blend my illustrative work into my design, I guess you could call me a graphic artist. Due to this common crossover between the two crafts, I don't think many people realize that there is a difference between artists and designers. Honestly, I don't think I realized so myself until it was too late.
One day, I had completed a series of illustrations for a client for whom I had previously done some design work. Long story short, my client had treated this commission as if it were a design job, responding to my nearly finished illustrations with an email, nitpicking at the minute details of my illustrations and suggesting that I alter my style to mimic another artist. I was taken aback. As an artist, I was, to an extent, offended. And then it hit me. I don't think she realizes that there is a difference. For this specific project, she was working with an artist, not the objective designer she had previously hired. I know what you're thinking. Don't all you creative people work the same? You're just using your art skills to whip up whatever us clients throw at you, right? It’s a little more complicated than that.
First things first, we have to look at this as a sort of classification system. I've created an "Foxee-graphic" chart below that divides our society into two initial classes solely based on the dominance and function of the left vs. right brain: the Creatives and the Non-Creatives. Now let me explain. Creatives are those who are right brain dominate, said to be best at expressive and creative tasks. Non-Creatives, on the other hand, are left brain dominate, or those who are more adept to tasks involving logic, language, and analytical thinking. I have determined that the Non-Creatives are synonymous with Clients, while the Creatives are comparable to Freelancers. Why? Well if Clients were Creatives, there would be no need to hire someone to complete a creative task. And if Freelancers were Non-Creatives, they would have little to no knowledge on how to complete said task. Now there are exceptions, but I won't confuse you. Today, we're only going to focus on the Creatives.
So the Creatives are broken down into two groups: the Artist and the Designer. Now the question is, what's the difference? I looked to the dictionary to see if the two terms could initially be differentiated in textbook definitions. According to dictionary.com, an Artist is "a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria." A Designer is "a person who devises or executes designs, especially one who creates forms, structures, and patterns, as for works of art or machines." Here we begin to see the schism between the two Creatives. One creates work that is unrestricted, subject to only personal aesthetic while the other produces work that is bound to structure and form, based on the objective of another.
Learn about "The Artist: Her Process, Her Craft" in tomorrow's post!