Is Graphic Design Art?

By AALofts Design

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By AALofts Design

It is an age-old debate on whether design is art & art is design. Art inspires us & always has, it is deeply ingrained within culture & history. Art is the response to someone’s need to create. Design is a mechanism to convey a message, maybe in a more calculated way. So how do we determine what our modern take on design is?

Graphic design in its simplest or most complex form is art. It is a creative process that combines art & technology. Graphic design uses imagery to convey a message & works to elicit an emotional and intellectual response from its viewers.

The world of graphic design has become a career path & way for designers to capitalize on their artistic ability outside of the realms of feeling & emotion. Let’s dive into this debate & understand how two worlds can become one when we challenge the ideas around art’s role today. ​

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Black Woman Beauty Illustration

Is Graphic Design Art?

Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Gerhard Richter—all famous painters who have changed the way we view art. These painters & all who have paved the way to allow art to be such a valuable part of society knew their world would evolve & should. For a medium to grow it must be challenged over time, becoming modernized & then a piece of history all over again.

Design & art share a fundamentally similar set of values & principles.

  • Colours, shapes, lines & rhythm are all a part of the creation process: they are the building blocks for artists & designers to initiate a project.
  • From there, they both benefit the world by creating a story. Stories are an active part of our lives, whether we realize it or not, and are communicated through art & design.

Good art & design are visual disciplines that share the same principles around aesthetics & purpose. An artist is communicating his feelings & emotions through a piece of work, whereas a designer is trying to convey an idea & message. Creation cannot differ in principle when the end goal is the same, to utilize imagery to move someone, & we can do that with a paintbrush or a computer.

Graphic design takes the same ingredients that make art “art” and uses them in a digitized format: the end result might look different, but the same artistic elements must be kept in mind whether you are using a mouse and keyboard or a paintbrush.

The Technological Advancements of Design

Graphic designers typically use the software on their computer to create images for their businesses or client’s businesses. In the last 20 years, technology has evolved to allow us to create whole new worlds with the touch of buttons & the movement of a mouse.

What graphic designers are able to do with technology is automate tedious activities so they can spend more time on the design part & less on the act of delivering the art. Many designers use tablets to draw as if it were paper, then you can dive deeper by manipulating dimensions & figures.

This advancement allows quicker creation & dissemination of the product. The way social media has affected our world has led to much more individuality. We create our ideas of beauty, then seek out the source of art that fulfils our perspective.

Since graphic design can be artists working for business or individuals selling to consumers, feedback is a lot easier when you use the resources modern-day technology gives. You can share iterations & work as a team, allowing for the best possible outcome. Graphic design has allowed art to have a hand in technology & business, & it has made our world a lot more recognizable.

Commercialization in Graphic Design

Graphic design is everywhere: it is the logo on the billboard & the design on your t-shirt. There are even games on the app store where you try to identify famous brands to win. It is truly amazing how a small picture creates such imagery in our head about an idea or a brand.

Graphic design is not just about visuals, it is also about the marketing effect that happens when you see the image. It is reported that our brains light up when we see images that remind us of a certain taste or an object that we like.

Corporations know what they are doing when they hire designers to create ideations around their brand & use it as a logo. We identify heavily with what we enjoy & just like a face to someone’s personality a logo to a brand allows us to connect.

Though the commercial graphic design is not self-expression, it is an idea focused on spreading a message in a creative way. & in commercialized design, there are formats & layouts that must be followed, but it is up to the designer’s skill to evoke something more than just basic. We rely on the artistic side to make our work stand out, even if it is for monetary purposes.

Linear Face Illustration With Watercolour

A View from the Other Side.

Are the famous McDonald’s arches considered art? A designer created the famous ‘M’ in a campaign for McDonald’s & now it sticks out over most cities & highway stops. It is argued that creation for purpose, with data to back it up, is not art.

  • Many artists say design is not creative: what role does creativity play when you are being paid to create something for a marketable audience?
  • When the purpose & process of the idea being designed is to be profitable, some people believe that does not constitute the work to be art.

It is argued that art must be about personal expression & provocation. The viewer must feel something that was created out of nothing for no other purpose than to be enjoyed. On the other hand, design has selective innovations that make it too calculated to be perceived as art.

Another idea is that art truly breaks convention & design is meant to stay within the boundaries of human desire. The Scream painting by Edvard Munch is hated & loved all at the same time because of its challenge to what we believe is beautiful, whereas the McDonald arches may be loved or hated but you know what they mean.

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Expression of All Forms.

The debate continues, but it is important to remember that any idea created from nothing can be someone’s idea of art.

Even though artists seem to have a monopoly on creation for the purpose of self-expression, every artist thinks of their audience in some way or another when forming an idea for their work. & even if a graphic designer studies graphic design at a prestigious school, it takes the right mindset to be able to create quality designs.

At AALofts Design, we believe deeply in our work as art to make the world a more aesthetic place. We created our digital emporium for people to access art easily & be able to choose from many options to pinpoint their style. Our form of expression is within the digital world & we believe the creativity involved in our work expresses who we are, & allows others to do so as well.

Female Logo Designer At Work


Graphic Design & art contain similar elements & are both intended to provoke thought, inspire beauty & be a reminder of a message or an idea. No matter what medium an artist works in or for what purpose, the outcome of their work is an idea of the work of what they want to represent.

Whatever side of the coin you may be on & whatever your chosen art form may be, as an artist or designer we can all respect the craft of another person’s work. When we begin to appreciate the role behind any given design, we can see the beauty of artwork for what it is.


If you’re interested in further reading, please see the links to my trusted resources page & related articles below. To find out more about AALofts Design, please click here. If you found this content helpful, want to collaborate on a project, or would like to request an article topic, please click here to get in touch via the contact form. Feel free to share & connect on social media, if you found this content helpful.

Article by Amy Lofts.

Article by Amy Lofts.

Owner of AALofts Design

Welcome! I am a graphic designer & digital marketer with over ten years of experience within a range of industries including; e-commerce, architecture, cruise liners, textiles & interior design. Having grown with exposure to various disciplines of art & design, my brand reflects my love of elegance, beauty & exploration. Get in touch or learn more.

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