What Is The Difference Between Fine Art and Graphic Design?

Only a few decades ago, art meant landscapes and portraits painted by genius artists, or life-size sculptures made on commission. Even the greatest names in art were limited in their creation of paintings and sculptures familiar to the rest of the population. 

With time, however, the concept of art changed and expanded. In the modern days, art isn’t just limited to landscapes, portraits and sculptures, but also includes all kinds of sketches and doodles, clay modeling, graphic designing, typography, grafiti, furniture designs, clothing, mosaic arts, as well as decorative arts.

The field of art is vast now, with more and more new additions to it every day. Even music, dance and theater performance is considered as art by many. 

However, there is still a difference between the two most popular forms of art: graphic design and fine art. In this article, we’ll know the main differences between them. 

What is Fine Art? 

Fine art is defined as something that has been created and displayed for the sake of beauty and public enjoyment. Pieces of fine art are created by professionals and amateurs both mainly and only for their aesthetic, and not to be used as decorative art or applied art.

In other words, fine art doesn’t serve any practical use in households or workplaces, as would a piece of decorative pottery or a carpet would. 

Paintings, sculptures, architecture, music and poetry were considered to be the most prominent five branches of fine arts historically. In fact, these five forms of art were the first types of art introduced by the masters during the Renaissance Age. Till today, they are considered to be the original forms of Fine Art, created for the pleasure of viewing. 

Any form of art that is used for practical uses, i.e. pottery, carpets, blankets, shawls and clothes, jewelry, crockeries, furniture used for sitting or lying down, etc. cannot be considered as Fine Arts, as these objects can be used in our daily life. 

What is Graphic Design? 

Graphic designs are created by professionals, who may or may not be called artists in the classic sense. These kinds of designs are created as visual content to convey certain messages and communicate through them.

The main focus of graphic design is creating business opportunities and communicating with customers, and whether the message is clear, acceptable and attractive.  

Graphic Design is more concerned with how customers perceive and see the designs, rather than how aesthetic the creation is. Graphic design can be dated back to the hieroglyphs drawn by ancient Egyptians at least 17,000 years ago.

They, too, used pictures and drawings to communicate among themselves, and to convey their messages to the future generations. Graphic designers do the same with pictures, words, typography and other techniques. 

The most common form of Graphic Design can be seen in advertisements: the ones we see on magazines and newspapers, pamphlets and posters, billboards and sides of busses. All advertisements are a mixture of: 

  • Photography or the use of photos and pictures, 
  • Typography or using different fonts to write a message, 
  • Iconography or the use of symbols and logos to convey a message 
  • Illustrations or drawings and cartoons, and 
  • Page Layout, i.e. how to place everything in a limited space to make most impact. 

The term “Graphic Design” is also synonymous with the terms “visual communication” and “Communication design”. Almost everything we see around us, from different logos and icons, to food packaging and advertisements on billboards, articles on magazines to the formats on Social Media format – fall under different types of “graphic design”. 

Some of the most common applications of Graphic Design, created by professionals can be seen in: 

  • Corporate logos and branding; 
  • Editorial Designs of books, newspapers and magazines; 
  • Environmental Designs; 
  • Wayfinding signs; 
  • Advertisements; 
  • Communicational Designs; 
  • Web Design; 
  • Product Packaging; 
  • Signage; etc. 

Difference Between Fine Arts and Graphic Designs

Although both Fine Arts and Graphic Designs are a mode of visual communication, they are very different from each other. We’ll learn about the most distinctive differences between these two concepts below. 

  1. Perhaps one of the biggest differences between Fine Arts and Graphic Design is their background, i.e. why they are created in the first place. The reason behind any kind of Fine Arts – painting, sculpture, music, drama, etc. – is to display it’s aesthetic beauty.

These arts are created by artists for their beauty, so that other people can enjoy them. It’s true that most Fine Art projects are commissioned or commercialized these days, but they still provide joy and enjoyment to people who enjoy art, music and drama. Paid for, ordered, rented or simply enjoyed, every piece of Fine Art is considered to be beautiful and special. 

On the other hand, Graphic Designs have productive value or uses. Designs we see on advertisements encourage us to buy or use the services of a certain product, or the ones in a magazine or a newspaper give us information and news.

Decorative pieces like pottery, tapestry, carpets or blankets have both aesthetic and productive uses. They are usually made to be used, but the designs on them are made beautiful to attract customers. 

2. Fine Art, unless made specifically to demand or order, is created by the whims and wishes of the artist themselves. An artist paints what they want to, a musician creates music based on what they are feeling inside, and a sculpture makes what they want to see.

While many artists are professionals who take orders to create custom-made projects, they mainly use their own imagination and creativity in creating their art projects. 

Alternatively, most of Graphic Design is associated with creating what other people want. Whether it is advertisements or designer furniture, the customer’s preferences are taken into account the most. When creating a design, professional Graphic designers look for what would get the attention and interest of their clients the most and the fastest. 

3. In the opinion of experts, creative artists think that Graphic design focuses too much on structure and rules. Truly, there isn’t much freedom in graphic designing for the professional designer as they have to concentrate more on what the customers and the client base wants. 

For the same reason, Fine Art has more freedom. Most artists can create what they want, and the customers have the freedom to criticize to accept it. This is a reason that graphic designers think that Fine Art lacks a lot of formal rules and structure. 

4. It’s not just the intention behind the art that differs between Fine Art and Graphic Design, but the general audience as well. The audiences and appreciators of Fine Arts are smaller and more definite; these people follow a particular kind of art or artists, and they try to gather more knowledge and expertise in the field they are interested in. 

On the other hand, graphic design is meant for a much larger audience. When professionals create designs for advertisement, their target is a much larger audience who might be interested in that product or service. 

These days, a lot of creative artists are also changing their medium of art to digital platforms as it is easier to reach their fans and followers. Therefore, there isn’t a lot of difference between the two types of arts; in fact, they are merging together more and more every day. 

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