What is the difference between graphic art and graphic design? In reality not much.
As this is my first blog post on my new website I wanted to make a declaration of intent. The purpose of this website is to allow me to share work that is more personal, more self-expressive and can be interpreted in a number of different ways.
Yet some of my work is a result of client commissions. And that led me to ask the question… can client work ever be art?
I’ve always relied on simple categorising to answer the “art” question. Graphic design is short-hand for solving visual communication problems and the audience is left with an unambiguous message. Graphic Art on the other hand is artwork created to elicit an emotion or mood and the meaning can be ambiguous. The problem is sometimes graphic design and graphic art can look similar. And created for the same emotional reasons.
The photography and illustrations on this website were all created by a strong drive for self-expression. It just so happens some of the examples were client work. I’m lucky I have some great clients who encourage my work and share my values. Yet can this ever be considered art? Maybe, maybe not… but I like to think my clients gave my imagination a little boost.
There are two artists who typify the ambiguity of Art vs Design: Andy Warhol and Luba Lukova.
Andy Warhol blurred the boundaries of commercialism, graphic design and art. He sold his services for the rich to create portraits as well as the iconic Velvet Underground album cover. Yet his soup paintings were the epitome of the term “graphic”. And he created them partly because Campbell’s soup reminded him of warm childhood feelings. They were created as much to elicit an emotion, as they were to challenge the idea of what is considered art. His work often looked like a graphic designers output – yet it is considered art and rightly so.
Luba Lukova is a brilliant illustrator, artist and graphic designer, known for her thought-provoking images. She creates a lot of posters for charity organisations that are emotionally arresting. Yet as they’re client work, created to have an unambiguous reaction are they considered art? I’d argue yes, partly because the images are so impactful. Luba Lukova is one the best examples of an artist that truly blurs the notion of art vs design and client commission vs self-expression.
I still struggle with the definition of art vs design. Many artists are designers and many designers are artists. On the whole a designer creates a piece of work in order to sell or promote a product or service. An artist creates for much more personal reasons. However everything is an exception.