Before I get into this, I would like to emphasize this is purely my opinion based on personal experience.
I spent the majority of the last decade studying art and design, three years for art, five for design. During that time I was also working and have been relatively successful as a designer for around eight years. I say relatively since there really is nothing to compare a design career to anymore. Used to be you could compare what you’d done to various “superstar designers” but that era has/is quickly disappearing. Now, if you have a goal or mantra that dictates what you’d like to do with your projects, that is more commonly how designers will gauge success.
Outside of the people and companies who hire designers and artists, and the design and art communities themselves, the two area’s still aren’t hugely respected as career choices. Anyone who has taken either in school has experienced this in the form of questions like: “What are you going to do for work?” or “Is there a market for that?”. Unfortunately with the economy in the state it has been since 2008, and will be for at least a few more years, the questions do hold value. On the plus side, if you are currently in school for either of these, fear not. If you put your creatively advanced minds’ to it, you should be able to come up with some in and out of the box answers. That said, don’t let my comment on “creatively advanced minds” go to your head. I am of the school of thought that really anyone can be an artist or a designer, whether you will be successful at either venture depends nearly equally on how good you are, who you know, how hard you’re willing to work and just random dumb luck.
Artist and designers do share a few commonalities, one that they don’t however, is that design is a service industry, art is not. The majority of projects that you will do as a designer are not for you, they’re for someone else. This means the following: you can’t fall in love with the project, it is not your baby, it is someone else’s. Although, you should love what you do enough to put all you can into the project as if it is your baby and you are in love with it, it is a thin line that you have to walk. You can’t dwell on a project for as long as you want, the industry simply doesn’t allow it. You have deadlines and just like any other job, if you don’t meet them, there will be consequences. This is why you have to be efficient and think on the ball, so to speak, so that you can timeline your projects to include the proper process so that the story of the end product can be properly written.
I didn’t spend enough time as an artist to explain the following as specifically as I did with design but there are small similarities and large differences. Like a designer, an artist can have a contracted or commissioned project, in which case you will also have a deadline. Artists however are allowed to fall in love with their work, actually its really more of a requirement to do what they do, in whatever media they are working in. As an artist you can take critique personally because whatever you’ve done has come from a place not necessarily motivated by servitude so much as a straight shot from your creative epicentre. From someone who came from an artistic background into design, it took me a long, long time to not be attached to a project as I would to a sculpture or painting I’d done. I won’t lie, it still occasionally happens and I doubt you could find a designer with or without an artistic background that hasn’t had the same problem.
The funny thing is even with all of the differences between art and design, the two are grouped together as many times as they are compared. It is true, the world needs both art and design just as it needs every other creative venture like music and architecture. Unfortunately all of the above are easily effected by economic trends and, that is the commonality that they all share. When it comes down to it and a person or company is looking at the bottom line, they need to weigh their “wants” and their “needs”. More often than not, a creatively motivated item will fall in the “want” category which is why the ones that survive in creative industries really have to love what they do, and think on their feet. If they don’t they will fall victim to rejection, money troubles and eventually look for a way out, which is a shame.
Img Sources: Art Is Everywhere, isleofideas.com,