Introduction to Art versus Design

2 minutes read

Are art and design interchangeable? Where is the overlap?

Posted by Pete Morley

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Are art and design interchangeable? Where is the overlap?

It’s fun to generalise.

Effective design is about communicating a message. To do that, we need three things. Firstly, to define the audience, their culture and their tone. We need to define and simplify the message, where does the client fit in to the wider cultural landscape, what value does the client add? We need to identify the client’s needs and set clear goals; from increased web traffic, higher sales or a heightened brand awareness.

A well designed piece of creative doesn’t have to be aesthetically pleasing to be effective. It probably shouldn’t follow trends. It should be aware of its audience and their needs, and it probably shouldn’t pose more questions than it answers.

Art doesn’t need to be aesthetically pleasing either. It doesn’t really need to be anything. It doesn’t have to evoke feeling or meaning because it can lean on it’s audience to answer questions based on their own personal experience. It can open the artist up to an audience because it’s allowed to be vulnerable. Art is allowed to be difficult to understand and it’s allowed to rely on the work, cultural touchstones and questions asked by previous artists.

2017 marked 100 years since Duchamp posed the question “what is art?”, and for 100 years artists have been trying to answer his question in their own way. In contrast, Typeface muse Paul Rand embraced simplicity, utilitarianism and symbolism to make the statement “this is design”.

Art asks questions, while Design answers questions, but where is the overlap? What do you get when you take the brutal simplicity of a urinal and compare what came after it with the constrained Godfather of modern graphic design?

You get Andy Warhol. Warhol is where things start to get complicated and that’s why he’s exciting. Over the next few months, Typeface will try to explore this intertwined world of art and design; touching on some of the influencers who have sculpted the thought and ethos behind the creative process and method behind Typeface as both a commercial product and as a creative agency.


I asked Typeface to build a second website, a specialist portal for endurance sport coaching with the main purpose to explain our offering and service the specific needs of a niche audience. 

Pete is a pleasure to work with, working with me before coding a stitch to understand what the business is that I’m providing and the audience requirements. I also wanted to keep a consistent theme to my existing site which he included while pushing the design of the new site. I’m very happy with what has been delivered.

Stuart Holliday, Chartered Sport & Performance Psychologist

Typeface. Creative Business.

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