17 comments

  • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, 6 years ago

    I know I tend to write long answers. I can't help it.

    Art stands alone as a creative expression independent of purpose

    That is not what makes creative expression art though. Creative expression without purpose can be art, but the same WITH purpose does not make it design. Purpose is not what differentiates design from art.

    Art is about the Artist. Design is about the User.

    When EA decided to consciously design their Game in a way that leads to paywalls, they were not thinking about the user. They were purely thinking about themselves. In this context, they are the artists, the designers. Design is not the holy grail of selflessness, and artists are not less egocentric then anyone else.

    Calling Art subjective is a very general statement as well. Art isn't; It is the perception of the product of the creative process that is subjective. This big misconception comes of the product-based thinking. When you walk into a gallery or a museum and you see a painting, an installation, a video that might not make sense to you, then it is not because it is purely subjective, it is because you are observing a little piece of the whole process. But you learn only to see the product that came from it, not how it has become what it is now. If you want to make art work for you, appreciate the process. Then all of a sudden, that viennese self-cutting Aktionismus - video that grossed you out before, makes sense to you, because you know how it has come to this.

    Art means process. Design means product. The problem comes in, when you need creativity for design and marketing for art because they naturally cancel those aspects out. Both disciplines share the same resource which is creativity.

    I personally see design as the minor subset of art. It is a mental model, a discipline to apply to a process, to get a product out of it. Whatever that may be, tangible, intangible. Design is a way of thinking, a mental model so to speak.

    From experience, you limit yourself from being too much in the design-bubble, where everything only works from external input and things are only valid if they serve a purpose. That kills creativity, because the part of yourself that can be creative is a little child that doesn't understand the word "no". You can only do so much to apply design-thinking to your life, but if you are truly a creative person, and I believe everyone is, then you will have moments where you have to do something illogical, stupid, childish to feel creativity again. And I am not talking about videogames or binge watching a series. There is a reason, why Stefan Sagmeister goes on a sabbatical on a regular basis. Julia Cameron calls this "filling the well". If you apply design-thinking to every step of your life, you will slowly run out of creativity over time.

    Design wants to see itself as the grown up version of art, the epiphany and highest evolved aspect of creativity itself, but it isn't. It denies important condition of its existence. Design has also become a life-style, a brand itself. People love the idea of calling themselves designer, knowing their names on mailing lists, promoting their truly purposeless work of endless redesigns of high traffic websites just to get attention, listening to podcasts of people they have no interest on, applying the same color-correction on their selfies and getting overly excited about "finally making their own product", at 19. You see them throwing life-advice slogans like "work is not work if you love what you do", and "I am running a passion-based business", even though they do neither feel like it, nor fully understand the truth behind these sentences. They live an idea, not themselves. Is this, what design is? You probably don't care, as long as they make amazing products, right? Yeah. Design is not art. Design does not care about the purpose. Design does not care, how you got to where you are. All design cares about, is what comes out of it.

    That doesn't sound too true either, to be honest. Maybe it is time to accept the fact, that art and design may be different, but neither of them are superior. They share the same resource which is creativity. Artists do know how to fill their well of creativity, designers know how to get their work into the world, how to solve problems. If both sides could finally get off their high, arrogant horses, maybe they would learn a lot from each other.

    4 points
    • , 6 years ago

      Great thoughts. This reply was fun to read - I think you got more upset as it went on. But you make really solid points nonetheless.

      Purpose is not what differentiates design from art.

      There are many things that differentiate the two, as I mentioned in the article. Purpose was just one example. But like I said, the lines do blur sometimes. Purpose very well may not be a differentiating factor in some cases. At times, art can be intended to serve a purpose to the audience, much like design.

      When EA decided to consciously design their Game in a way that leads to paywalls, they were not thinking about the user. They were purely thinking about themselves.

      I totally agree. I used a loose definition of "user" in the article, in an attempt to simply illustrate that the designer isn't creating for themselves and that their work isn't about them. But "user" in this sense could be actual users, stakeholders, investors, etc. They all influence the design and they all represent the entities that the designer is creating for.

      Art means process. Design means product.

      That's an interesting thought. It seems to coincide with my idea that one of the main distinguishing factors between the two is process. I can get behind that.

      Both disciplines share the same resource which is creativity.

      Agreed. But there are also many additional resources that come into play, which set them apart.

      Maybe it is time to accept the fact, that art and design may be different, but neither of them are superior.

      Hey, great point. Can't argue with you there.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed the read.

      1 point
      • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, 6 years ago

        Great thoughts. This reply was fun to read - I think you got more upset as it went on. But you make really solid points nonetheless.

        Thank you! And you are right, I got emotionally carried away, but I felt like I should still put in in there :3

        0 points
  • John PJohn P, 6 years ago

    Anything can be art if done with that intent.

    You're over 100 years too late to say otherwise.

    4 points
    • , 6 years ago

      Anything can be art if done with that intent.

      I actually don't disagree with you there. My main point was simply that the processes (and intent, if you want to call it that) are fundamentally different for design and art. Though I wouldn't say that anything can be "100 years too late" in an industry where the mediums and tools that we use to design are changing at an ever accelerating rate.

      0 points
      • John PJohn P, 6 years ago

        I wouldn't say that anything can be "100 years too late" in an industry where the mediums and tools that we use to design are changing at an ever accelerating rate

        I get what you're saying but my point is more neither medium nor tools matter in deciding what is or isn't art.

        Disclaimer:I'mnotsayingalldesignISart,justthatdesignisnotnotart.

        0 points
        • , 6 years ago

          I agree. I was just saying that the medium and tools indicate that the industry is changing and evolving rapidly - not that they distinguish design from art. In many ways, the medium and tools can be the same for designers and artists. Rather, from my point of view, it's the process that distinguishes the two.

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

          0 points
  • Mike Wilson, 6 years ago

    The words 'design' and 'art' have come to be used so broadly over the years to describe an infinite amount of things....it's absurd to even argue the semantics of it. Both are abstract concepts with fluid definitions.

    2 points
  • Bennett WongBennett Wong, 6 years ago

    Lol no shit.

    2 points
  • Mitch Malone, 6 years ago

    I totally agree. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. The fundamental purpose of art and design are not aligned, as the author said. The best art is discordant and disturbing. The best design is always beneficial and positive. Design solves a problem. Art can be a problem. It can, and should, make people nervous and uncomfortable. Art can exist for it's own sake; design is always purposeful.

    Even visual design, the "artistic" part of design, in my opinion, is more math and psychology than art. Hick's Law, Fitt's Law, Gestalt, affordance, color theory; these foundational concepts of design are all math and psychology.

    1 point
    • , 6 years ago

      Excellent summary of what I'm thinking as well. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the article.

      0 points
    • John PJohn P, 6 years ago

      The best design is always beneficial and positive

      What about a protest poster? or editorial design about a war atrocity?

      0 points
  • Laurens SpangenbergLaurens Spangenberg, 6 years ago

    I agree with the idea that design is not art, although having read much art and design history and how connected they actually were historically leads me to feel that the echoing of "design is not art" in UI design caused many UI designers to completely ignore art's significance in design which led to a degrading of an overall visual style.

    1 point
    • , 6 years ago (edited 6 years ago )

      Yeah, I get what you're saying. I would say that's just a (short term) by-product of the rapidly evolving nature of design right now. Widespread, accessible objective data played little to no role in design just as recently as 10 - 15 years ago, so this will naturally have effects on the products that we produce. I think that right now, designers are still figuring out how to balance data and intuition in design. Going too far to the data side simply takes the human element out of it and almost yields a robotic, over-informed design. At the same time, going too far to the intuition side yields an under-informed design based on personal taste. The best solution probably lies somewhere in the middle.

      With the boom of data becoming readily accessible to designers, we were pressured heavily to design almost exclusively using data. Now I think we're starting to understand where intuition & gut still play a role in that process and exactly what that interaction is supposed to look like. At the same time, design as a practice has become much more accessible thanks to the dawn of low cost and easy to obtain tools like Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, Canva, etc. So many non-designers are producing designs that honestly may not qualify as what you or I would consider to be good design. I think some of the UIs that you're referring to may have originated from that bucket.

      Either way, I agree that the visual style in UI has degraded in a sense, but I've also seen massive improvements (that far outweigh the drawbacks) and as UI design for modern devices and tools matures, I think we'll see more and more of that.

      I actually discuss this more in an episode of the UX and Growth Podcast, entitled Design Machines & The Death of Creativity in Web Design.

      0 points
    • John PJohn P, 6 years ago

      "design is not art" in UI design caused many UI designers to completely ignore art's significance in design which led to a degrading of an overall visual style.

      This movement has also been pushing the idea that to be a designer in CURRENT YEAR you should be approaching the whole thing more like an engineer or data scientist than a creative or artist.

      I believe this really shows the immaturity of this industry, look at architecture: Plenty of architects approach their work in a highly structured, best practices, data driven, emotionally numb milquetoast way. But that isn't the only way, plenty also approach it in a more expressive and opinionated way. You wouldn't tell Zaha Hadid that "Sorry curves didn't A/B test well" or Ando that he should "switch to warmer, more human materials so it resonates better with our funding partners".

      Certainly not saying every piece of design should be a free for all, but to push this ideology so hard on designers just starting out that this is how they should behave is really a sad state of affairs.

      1 point
  • David James, 6 years ago

    "ego has no place in design" whilst I agree with the main theme - design is objective and for the user instead of about the creator, I disagree with complete removal of ego, inherent in design there is the designers opinion about what the user needs (not wants, needs), a good designer has belief in their solutions - good design is not a democracy, it's a vision and it should always be informed by data but not led by it

    You also say 'Design is not a talent it's a skill' - there is no need for those to be mutually exclusive. Design is not art but it is still creative, two designers given the same information and following the same process will arrive at different solutions - why? because there's still a degree of subjectivity, talent and ego at play, which you need to stop everything becoming bland and uniform (arguably this is already happening)

    0 points
    • , 6 years ago

      good design is not a democracy, it's a vision and it should always be informed by data but not led by it

      You also say 'Design is not a talent it's a skill' - there is no need for those to be mutually exclusive.

      I totally agree on both points. Though I don't think that ego needs to be involved to uphold these components of design. I've seen many design teams function extremely well with individuals that know when to trust their gut vs. when to go data-driven, but never introduce ego or personal superiority into the equation. Great points though - thanks for sharing.

      0 points