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  • Writer's pictureCajvanean C. Alexandru

Is Design a Form of Art? Designer: The Artist by the People for the People.


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Designer The Artist by the People for the PeopleCajva

If art doesn’t blend with everyday issues, if art doesn’t represent our life as it is, and if art stays away from the troubles of life, art will not be relatable and therefore will interest very few people. If in the past, the artist was up there on a pedestal, creating just for the chosen few and delivering his craft to a small hand of privileged people, the modern artist has descended from his place in the heavens and now is in the position to paint a sign for the local tailor. Enter the designer: art by the people for the people. This man is a blend of aesthetic sense, practicality, and humility ready to deliver beauty to the masses. 

graphic designer as an artist an esseay by cajva

Contemporary designers reestablish the contact between people and art making the link between art and life as strong as ever. Just enter into a random house and see the beauty of the furniture which now the large public has access to, and admire the gorgeous appliances they have, even the simple light bulb has turned into an object to be enjoyed. The superb filament and curvy glass cast different light temperatures and intensity making the environment emanate the desired emotion. Most of the objects we do nowadays are created with intention and attention to detail. You can feel the work of the artist in the properly designed things. You can see how life is made more beautiful and how the artist works for the public. It is this availability that helps the man develop a taste and a sense of beauty.

 

Our archaeologists have made some great discoveries and brought back from the past some beautiful objects. Hand-painted vases, weapons, coins, sculptures, and a variety of everyday objects which back in the day could be just a common thing to use show us how the artist was also a designer who relied on technical means and possessed artistic vision as well.

 

The present-day designer is an artist conscious of his creative power with an understanding of human needs. Function and beauty are combined, and the designer brings harmony to the world by making society a stable place to live without leaning into a material life or a fantasy world to live in. However, it seems that the beauty that was supposed to bring balance, could not keep up with human greed and as much as we now all have access to art in everyday life, we are not satiated.

 

What is a designer?

 

Quoting Bruno Munari: “The designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense”. We have such beautiful gadgets at our disposal because engineers and designers work together. Were it only for the engineer, the object form would arise from the function. Imagine a phone designed around its internals, imagine a car made by engineers only. You would not have all those brilliant sports cars with their dazzling lines. Your phone would be just a brick containing a screen, battery, and components. Forget about colorful designs, the color would be based on the material availability and price only. I’m not implying that engineers have no aesthetic taste as I’m not implying that designers have no understanding of function. I’m merely trying to show how both work best when done properly.

 

If an object has only a decorative purpose, it’s automatically attributed to a psychological function. We did stray away from rationalism where function was beauty and we are now finding beauty to be functional. Great times to live in. I wonder what’s next.

 

Is a graphic designer an artist?

 

Well, the definition of art is different from one period to another. Our ancestors gave everyday objects a meaning beyond function. They had visual intensity, they gave them stories and they elaborated them to a new level of importance. So art was embedded into everyday life.

 

Only in 1803, Benjamin Constant famously formulated the phrase “L’art pour l’art” as in Art of Art’s sake. The meaning was that art could be called art if it would have been free from other ties to the practical world. So it’s easy to see how an abstract painting could be more expensive than a sports car. Even though aesthetic, objects with purpose are considered less of a work of art. Why would this sort of thinking take place? Probably because of our lack of understanding, probably because our thinking and behavior sometimes make no sense, and probably because we are dumb. Although Benjamin considered art to be true only if it didn’t carry any political or religious message, it seems like modern art, abstract and sometimes questionable in aesthetic, carries a lot of these sorts of messages and is more valued now than ever. Like I said, we are unpredictable.

 

For the sake of argument, I will refer to the graphic designer and the artist as separate entities. As I said, present-day artist’s work may lack aesthetics but a deeper meaning counters it. At the same time, the graphic designer uses the same process as the artist to make the meaning and the symbolism more apparent and understandable to the population. Both these people’s works carry political, religious, or commercial messages about the world we live in and help us relate to one another. While an abstract painting and a movie poster can tackle more or less the same theme, graphic design work seems to nail the symbolism better. Somehow, road signs are more relatable and stand as a universal language that artists at their core aim to deliver. Now it goes without saying that both the artist and the designer consider that the population is as dumb as it gets. One believes that his work is too abstract and the people are too dull to understand its meaning while the other tries hard to make it understandable because he does consider that his society is imbecilic.

 

So to answer my question, yes, the designer and the artist are the same person due to the operating principle that drives their work.

 

Alright, point taken but what about the difference between fine art and design?

 

What about it? If in the past, the artist was summoned to paint a new ceiling in the church so people could be informed about the religious event, the modern-day graphic designer is approached with a new project that has the same intention, to inform the people about the next music festival. Why not hire an artist to do that? Well, they do and when that happens, the “fine” artist has to become a designer and establish the contact between art and the public by solving a problem and not doing art for art’s sake. He must respond to his peers and understand the world around him. So, fine art and applied art can have the same aesthetic purpose but applied art adds communication and visual information to the whole paradigm.

 

I’m a big fan of fine art. In fact, I buy prints, I buy contemporary artist’s books and I follow quite a few artists on my social accounts. Here are some artists I follow and appreciate: Seb McKinnon, Malika Favre, Dominik Mayer, Ben Peeters, Erin Hanson, Theobanoth, Sergi Brosa, David Dugan, and so many others.


Art consists of the perfect use of an imperfect medium. Oscar Wilde

 

As an observation, fine artists are now also creating commercially as I exemplified with the church. Just think about all the video games you played lately. Concept artists, 3D artists, music composers, motion artists, dancers, singers, actors you name it. The market is now bigger than ever. So art for art’s sake but a man has to eat. But beyond all the work, it seems like there is a deeper calling inside our hearts. As much as we are creating for one another, we seem to have the need to create for ourselves and here the words of Benjamin Constant have more meaning than ever. Art without a reason is the result of our artistic impulse. The tools we now have allowed for this fine art to reach the population at greater scales through prints, videos with the artist working, and channels where you can understand the artist's reason, philosophy, and life. It is wonderful and truly the best time to be alive, where you can experience art firsthand, no matter the social class you find yourself in. However, if you are rich, you can use art as a way to display social dominance.

 

Language has failed miserably therefore we must rely on our artistic expression.

 

The design of our days has to be understandable, relatable, and universal. No matter the background, no matter the location, and no matter the language, design demands that the message is to be absolutely clear and free of interpretation. I would go as far as putting logos and road signs in the same bucket due to their worldwide reach and the speed at which they can be figured out. We understand some of these without even thinking about them. Graphic designers are working on this visual language at large. Each to their own, building a world of visual stimuli that makes sense and that’s crazy. Some of them are poorly designed creating more confusion, some are aggressive and make you feel like you are sold something and others are just there for no reason at all. Why would it not be? Some called design “the mirror” of our society and we know how wacky, silly, and lunatic some things are.

 

We started from the premise that design increases the quality of life and brings balance. At the same time, bad design can decrease quality and make things worse than they were. We see that all the time, be that a cheaper version of a product or just the latest software update when some feature doesn’t work anymore, or it’s draining the phone’s battery. It makes you wonder if design thinking is backed up by moral values. Hard to say.

 

We, the people

 

Divided by domains, the creative people are one big family of humans who are very much alike in their pursuit of beauty. I say we should establish a slogan for the creative clan: never a dull moment.

 

Art is making the extraordinary out of the ordinary. Desmond Morris

 

Satisfying our basic needs has never been enough. Endlessly playful and curious, we clearly are genetically programmed to want more and to go a step further. That being said, It seems that the richness of supply in artistic forms is never covering the demand. No matter how many movies are coming out and how many games are being launched, the public is starved. 

 

The intelligent human brain needs constant stimulation. It is to be seen if this is favorable for us or if this is also the thing that will end us. Chemical reactions in the brain are one of the latest subjects that people are devouring. Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are the main stars of the event. Understanding how these work, we now can masturbate the brain out of his mind. Of course, there are some of us who think that abusing some of these chemicals is ruining the fun of it all. And they might be right, or they might be wrong. Who knows. Science is a bit like religion, you need to have a little faith too.


This feels like a personal take. Do you think you can provide us with an objective definition of what a graphic designer is?


Sure.


THE DESIGNER

ALIEN DOCUMENTATION

The designer, or "Depression & Pizza" is a special breed of earthlings who are considered to be extremely creative and imaginative at times. We can safely assume that their "self-importance" is a product of their imagination too.


It is not hard to see that one such specimen or speciwomen gets to a point where delusion takes the place of reason. It takes around 30 Make The Logo Bigger and about 50 Photoshop crashes to completely lose it.


Proud that he is not working a "basic" 9 to 5, he is overworked, and underpaid and the last time his body synthesized sunlight was before he bought a new laptop.


Every designer secretly wishes to one day become as good of a designer as his client. The biggest fear they have is a deadline and even if we didn't find any proof of how the time of delivery could affect the well-being or even change the course of the world, these "deadlines" were in fact more of guidelines if anything. Without these, the relaxed designer would procrastinate and waste his precious time on doing god knows what.


Using pretentious language and terminology such as kerning, wireframe or raster made themselves the thing they hated the most: know it all snob.


In our laboratory, we tried replicating these "designers" by using a well-built grid with proper padding, good use of white space, negative space, and great scalability. The results are as we expected and since they have no bleed, they are dead on the inside.


The replication was a total success!


Be that as it may, it's not all bad, they are decent people so if you own such exemplary, please take good care of them because they deserve as much love as anyone else.


 

So there you have it my dear reader, an objective definition from outer space.

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References:


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Send me your ideas or start a conversation.


I write on this blog almost weekly and you can find details about my graphic design work and get in touch on my website.

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Rusciac Sania
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