Artists vs. Designers: What’s the Difference?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Artists vs. Designers: What’s the Difference?

Occasionally someone will refer to one of our designs as “a work of art.” While this is flattering, we don’t usually see it this way. Artists and designers both create visual compositions using a shared knowledge base, but the thought process, reasons, and results is entirely different.

So what’s the real difference between art and design, and how does it impact you and your business?

Design Motivates, Art Inspires

The primary purpose of a designer is to motivate the viewer on behalf of someone else: To buy a product, choose a company’s services, learn useful information, vote for a person, support a particular philosophy. All aspects of that design are focused on the message they want to tell. A designer doesn’t really create something new so much as communicate something that already exists to the intended audience.

On the other hand, though an artist may have a message in mind when they create an artwork, ultimately the meaning of that work is up to the viewer. Artists aren’t necessarily concerned with conveying the wishes of a client or any lack of clarity in their message; they tend more to concentrate on building a feeling, an impression, something to inspire thought and conversation.

Design is Understood, Art is Interpreted

This point is tangential to the previous one. The best designers create works for their clients which are immediately accessible and clear. Ideally, there’s very little ambiguity; the majority of viewers should “get it” from the start. A designer absolutely does not want to create something which can be interpreted differently from its original intention. With a good piece of design, the client’s exact message is understood by the viewer.

Artists approach the subject very differently. Although an artist may set out to convey an emotion or viewpoint, that is not to say that the final artwork has a single meaning. Art connects with people in different ways, because it’s interpreted differently according to each viewer’s life experience. Artists aren’t necessarily concerned with clarity of vision.

Craft vs. talent

How much does inborn talent matter, especially compared to learned skills? This is a thorny subject for both artists and designers. The usual definition is that designers tilt more toward the “skill” side of the equation and artists tilt more toward “talent.” This is not to say that designers cannot be good artists or vice versa, but it’s possible for a designer to be adequate at their job by relying more on their technical skills than their artistic intuition.

Great designers, though, combine technical skills, experience, and artistic ability to produce great work for their clients. While anyone can learn how to use Photoshop, there’s still an ineffable quality to creating fantastic designs which can’t be learned in school. Though the intention may be different from an artist’s works, great designers pull from the same wellspring of talent.

Matcha Design: Talented Designers

We at Matcha Design have won a number of prestigious industry awards for design. Our main metrics of our own success, though, are the success stories from our clients. We consider every job as another opportunity to excel in our field, and every creative and successful campaign as another feather in our cap. We believe the true measure of our talent exists in the effectiveness of our work.

Great designers are masters of both the art and craft of design. We take our clients’ messages and put them to work. This is our focus and our passion, and we can’t wait to make your message work for you.

Learn more about what we can do for you on our services page, or go ahead and contact us here.

About Matcha Design

Matcha Design is a full-service creative B2B agency with decades of experience executing its client’s visions. The award-winning company specializes in web design, logo design, branding, marketing campaign, print, UX/UI, video production, commercial photography, advertising, and more. Matcha Design upholds the highest personal standards for excellence and can see things from a unique perspective due to its multicultural background.  The company consistently delivers custom, high-quality, innovative solutions to its clients using technical savvy and endless creativity. For more information, visit

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