Artist v. Designer
March 30, 2011
By Chad Gall
You’ve just been charged with creating a new website, a new billboard, a new brand or a new whatever. Already the creative juices are flowing as you contemplate the possibilities. “Hmm, I could do it this way or that way, abstract, futuristic, simple and clean, bold and in your face…” You reach deep down hoping to find your innermost creative fortitude.
But then, from the eye of the brain storm, you faintly hear, “and here are the specs, the bullet points, the corporate color palette, the budget, and it’s due by end of day.” Say what?! Reverie interrupted.
At that moment, the line between artist and designer is clearly drawn. Artists are free to create and express themselves through the art they invent from scratch. Designers use their creative abilities to express an art director’s opinion, a senior designer’s opinion, the client’s opinion, the intended audience’s presumed opinions-and all within the budget’s opinion. Channeling others is what keeps you on the payroll. For a newcomer to the game, this might be a bit of a surprise. It was for me.
I’ve gradually redefined for myself what it means to be a designer. Good designers produce what’s expected. Great designers make unexpected choices, pushing the envelope aesthetically, while still pleasing the bosses, the critics, the project managers and the bean counters Without imposed boundaries, anyone can be artistic—even elephants. But solving complex real-world problems with just the tools provide that’s what makes an artist a designer.