Finding the Inner Balance Between an Artist and a Designer


The similarities between an artist and a designer are quite easy to see, in fact those unaware of the distinctive differences might even assume that they are the same occupation. However for those that understand the functions of both creative endeavors, they know that is far from the case. An artist is a creative who creates to satisfy their own aesthetic pleasure, unconcerned with the wants and needs of others. A designer is a creative who creates in hopes of satisfying the wants and needs of others with their art, casting aside their own individual creative desires.

With that understanding in mind, it is clear that both creative paths differ by one being a creative for the people and the other for oneself. As designers, there is always some level of artistic input that must be imputed into a design for it to be affective. The problem many designers have is trying to incorporate the desires of their inner artist into their work as a designer. There can’t be too much artistic perspective used because then it will lean away from the intended audience, however too little and the design will likely look very generic and uninspired. That is why we are going to go over how a designer can find that inner balance between artist and designer.

What is Your Favorite Style of Art?

In the design world it is the popular choice to renounce ones own true favorite artistic style and to design according to whatever style is currently trendy. An current example of this would be the universal fascination over minimalism. This is a great artistic style, with a really engaging philosophy behind it. However it is still not a perfect mesh for everyone.

So with that in mind, let’s go over a couple of questions that can lead anyone to the art style that best represents them.

What Does Your Personality Say About You?

Art is nothing more than an outward manifestation of the current mental state, and personal qualities, of the artist creating the work.. This makes artwork personal, and the need for a personal connection from a viewer of the work and the artist must be able to be formed from the art. Understanding this about art puts better perspective onto how and why some artwork appeals more so to some than it would to others.

So before anyone can go around looking at artwork to find what suits their creative palettes, there must be an understanding of oneself. That way when passing by and viewing artwork, the true connection with the work and yourself can be established.

Can You See Yourself  in the Artwork?

As already mentioned, art is very personal and allows for the inner workings of an artist to come out onto their canvas. It is important to be able to sense a connection with the artist  through looking at their work alone, however it is more so important when aiming for inner balance between artist and designer to be able to see oneself in the work.

This isn’t so much literally seeing yourself of course. It’s about looking at something and being able to see the inner workings of your mind, person, past, future, and/or soul in the work you are looking at.

How to Incorporate Your Taste into Your Work

As designers, it is our predetermined thought that our craft has no real room for personal creative interpretation, surrendering our individual tastes for that of the masses at large. It is quite easy to see how this thought process came to be when considering how community driven we are. From creation to final product, our main goal is to create something that is liked by a vast amount of people. If that happens to lead to something that we like, then that is just a little extra bonus in the project.

Now with that ideology thriving in anything designers create, it is quite hard to see ways in which any true personal artistic preference can be placed. Here are a few tips on how to awaken your inner artist in your designs.

Look for that “One Thing” when Finding Inspiration

Everyone takes that walk, or surfs the internet, trip, etc., to find inspiration for what they are working on. However, often the case is that instead of looking for that one thing in particular that stands out, the object of attention is the environment at large. That is of course fine for any other instance, but specifying your hunt for inspiration will lead to better results. This result should then lead you to an ample amount of creative thoughts that will easily lend themselves to your design project.

Ignore Best Practices…to an Extent

There is no such thing as a proven theory for success in the art world, so there shouldn’t be any perceived one anywhere near your mind when trying to bring out the artist in yourself. With so many proven success methods, guides, tutorials, and things of that nature, it’s hard for anyone to actually want to be adventurous. We design for financial gain after all, so this really isn’t such a bad thing. It’s just from the artistic standpoint, the only thing you’re doing by blindly adhering to these is suffocating your artistic expression. Understand the ones that make sense for what YOU are trying to do, and just leave the rest alone.

Lessen the Community Input

It is quite tempting to want to post what you’re working on to a social network full of creatives eager to see what everyone is doing, but it is not necessarily the best move. The vision for what you are to create can’t be translated to anyone perfectly, no matter how hard anyone tries. So of course there is no way that anyone elses input can actually lead to a better way of bringing out your inner artistic vision. Just leave this aspect for down the line when the project is close to completion, and needs that designer touch.

Don’t be Afraid

We all are afraid of creating something that is not well received, or easily understood by anyone else. This is so because art is not mean to be understood, only to express the thoughts of the artist. Don’t worry about the fear of rejection and just create, you could end up with something that the rest of us will be personally interpreting for years.

In Conclusion

The work of an artist and designer is nothing alike, only the means they go about in creating their work. A designer can learn many things from art and artist like personal expression, relieving oneself of the fear of rejection, and the drive to fulfill one’s creative vision among other things. Just make sure as a designer you don’t let your inner artist consume your work too much, your job description still says that you create for the community at large.



  1. Tzvi

    As an artist myself, I will tell you, that I think designing definitely has a connection with art.

    My personal artistry is actually what led me to the designing world, and after just a couple of tries I was crowned ‘Professional’ by all who knew or used me.

    • Tzvi

      Let me refraise a bit.

      I am an artist, naturaly, like a real one, not one of those who stand in Manhattan and make you that diguisting looking ‘Modern Art’ which is simply a bunch of squiggles with nothing put in to it. I am talking about a portrait, cartoon and scenery artist.

      At this, you may thing that my case is different and may really be so.

      Some people are simply jack and master of all trades….and naturaly….

  2. Salacki

    Good article, thanks for sharing. I found this page not long time ago and I am going to reappear. :)

  3. From your prasing I take it you don’t think much of artists. For example, “An artist is a creative who creates to satisfy their own aesthetic pleasure, unconcerned with the wants and needs of others.” Or “Art is nothing more than an outward manifestation of the current mental state, and personal qualities, of the artist creating the work. Worse than your disregard for the artist is that both of the statements are wildly inacccurate.

    Artists who create purely to satisfy their own pleasure, aesthetic or otherwise, remain unknown because they never achieve art. A casual glance at any Art form will reveal that Art is conerned only with what it means to be human; that is our needs, wants, hopes, desires, souls, capacity to love, and on and on and on. In other words, Art stives to reflect the beauty of truth. And to get there the artist must lose a sense of herself. That is what Michelangelo meant by “I just chiseled away the marble that wasn’t David.” In other words, David already existed in that block of marbel.

    Design on the other hand, is a process by which one arrives at the look and functioning of something be it a building, a garment, an iPad, or a web site. But it’s still a process, like painting or writing or sculpting. And like all processes there are rules that one must know. Here’s why one must know the rules, here’s why standards are important: you have to know why you do something and not just how to do something. Once you know why then you have a start at maybe doing something artistic with your process. Maybe. First you really have to understand why Pound said that “It’s extremely important for great poetry to be written, but it’s a matter of indifference as to who writes it.”

    To be sure sometimes design becomes art and the world is far better off for it. Bang and Olufsen have done it several times. The hood ornament on a Rolls Royce is an example. One could argue the iPad gets there. One might argue the merits of a coke can or the paper clip, I suppose.

    The only reason it doesn’t happen more is that designers are almost always paid by someone to design a certain thing to be sold and the person that is paying them could care less about Art. They are looking at dollar signs. Our focus is on profits rather than quality. And without the latter…well, you certainly can’t have Art.

    We should encourage each other to stive to take this process and create art. We should encourage each other to sell quality. The world would benefit.

    • Hi Dan,

      You make very good points in your comment, you actually got me thinking about all the debates I had in my Aesthetics philosophy class a year or so back. Good times!

      I think you really didn’t comprehend my point, I’ll further explain. Okay this article is aimed at designers, preferably web designers and maybe graphic designers. In this occupation, the art they create is as you said how it functions with the world around it. However, their main goal is to create an appealing design that works for their clients. On the other hand, an artist has the freedom to create from within themselves and how they see the world. Make sense? I’m actually a little sleepy right now, so if need be I can go into more detail at a later time.

      Thanks for your comment!