What is design?

Design solves problems. Design is the art and craft of deciding how something should look or function, and executing the work needed to make it so.

Design covers a broad range of disciplines, from architecture and industrial design to graphic design and web design.

Interactive Design

Visual Design focuses on the decorative graphic design layers of web design and UI design.

Web Design focuses on the decorative graphic design and the functional UI design of websites.

User Interface Design (UI) focuses on how the controls of an interface work.

User Experience Design (UX) focuses on how the user feels or is best served by the design.

My journey to design

I was on the playground near the monkey bars.

I picked up a piece of bark from the mulch that covered the ground.

My fingernail made a mark on its surface.

It felt natural, almost inevitable, to start drawing lines into it.

I was compelled to do it once I realized the bark surface was easily marked.

I was curious to see what I could make it into.

That same curiosity led me to experiment with all types of mediums as I grew up.

Drawing. Painting. Sculpture.

Eventually I discovered Photoshop.

A high school friend had a connection with the local newspaper. Somehow they scored a copy of Photoshop 2.

We had a blast scanning in photos of our friends and swapping their heads. At 16 years old this gave us hours of laughs.

Then I picked up Adobe Illustrator and Indesign during college while working part time jobs in graphic design and eventually web design.

I started freelancing under my own name before I graduated from design school.

After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in Studio Art with a focus in Digital Media and Graphic Design, I learned more clearly about how art and design are very different things.

Managing clients and their expectations is not the same as making art.

Now that I have 20 years of experience working in graphic design, web design, digital marketing, and web development, the difference between art and design are clearer than ever.

What’s the difference between art and design?

The difference between art and design is the balance of freedom vs responsibility of each. Art and design are both on the spectrum of creative activities. However, art is self expression without the responsibility to please anyone but yourself, which gives the artist more freedom. Design, on the other hand, is creating something with purpose that serves a specific function or client, which gives the designer more responsibility.

In art class we were hoping the teachers judged our execution well.

Outside of art class, the artist creates art from internal inspiration or an external muse. When the artwork is complete, the artist is satisfied with the result itself and that it now exists outside of their mind. Ideally, the art marketplace finds value in the work and pays enough for the art to sustain the creation of more artwork.

As a designer, your inspiration is a distant second place to the client’s need to solve their design problem. The style and choices made during the design process must serve the client’s business need. Your personal style or preferences don’t matter if they are not in line with what will give the client the best result for what they are paying you to accomplish.

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