Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Graphic Design vs. Fine Art

Graphic design is primarily a medium of communication, a way to deliver a message. Designers wrap up the message and give it as a gift. If wrapped in a provocative way, the reader is compelled to open the package and look.

Graphic designers are information architects that disseminate information in a way that makes it easier to understand, like a way-finding system. Successful ones have gained an understanding that their creativity has to fit within the limitations of the final output device; that this limitation is actually liberating, eliminating unnecessary effort and allowing a sharper focus on creative problem-solving and a speedier solution.

Graphic design can overlap into other forms of design, finding its way into branding systems for private companies, educational institutions, transportaion, military, and governement; as illustration and typography for 50-state quarters and postage stamps, signage, uniforms, architecture, interior design, packaging, clothing and textiles, vehicles, toys, etc.

If you stop to think about it, everything in our environment that is man-made had to be designed by someone! Ordinary, everyday things we take for granted as having no 'design' or 'style' per se at some beginning point were defined, whether by design or out of necessity, by a living breathing person (or group of persons). Men can only emulate the world from the outside-in (craft). Only God can create the world from the inside-out (growth). 

The difference between graphic design and fine art is one of intent. Fine art is created for art's sake, with an eye to the ethereal, the spiritual, and the aesthetic. Graphic design usurps fine art and places it inside other documents to sell a product or service, to deliver a message, or to convey an awareness. The Mona Lisa and the Leaning Tower of Pisa were not created to sell painting services nor promote tourism, but images of these cultural icons have indeed been co-opted and repurposed for those very reasons. (Copyrights on old art)

Consequently, graphic design is regarded by many fine artists to being something inferior—a commercial business to sell pizzas and motorbikes. Fine artists may feel this way about graphic designers in a derogatory sense, but sometimes graphic designers deliberately think this about themselves (but not in a bad way), discarding the idea of being artists altogether in favor of becoming information archetects and master communicators, deliberately relegating the status of graphic design to that of communication only. (unimark

Graphic design was and is heavily employed as a vehicle of propaganda, extending the idea that its practitioners are not artists. (Constuctivism)

China and Japan view the graphic arts more favorably than the United States and Europe where, historically, the calligraphic arts flourished before the pictorial. Graphic designers are awarded more respect in the Eastern than in the Western world.

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