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Is Web Design a Form of Art?

Seems to me lately there have been a number of conversations around the design community pertaining to whether or not web design is considered art. Smashing Magazine had posted a few articles that inadvertently touched on the issue and it has caused quite a stir in conversation. I sat back and thought about it for a minute, and realized that I had never thought of web design as actually being art. Certainly it is an artistic field, the aesthetics and design of a site certainly require the person developing it to have a level of artistic ability to be a success. With that in mind, is what we do for a living actually art? Are web designers as a whole considered artists? Not to my knowledge. I’ve always considered myself a designer when it came to my career personally. But where lies the line between artist and designer?

What is Considered Art?

Wikipedia defines art as “The process or product of deliberately and creatively arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.” OK, that seems about spot on right? All famous artists create their work to express themselves thought their chosen medium. So far according to this information web design can be considered art. I have heard arguments against that saying art is an expression of the artist, while many times what we are creating is an expression of our clients. There is a very vague gray area, because I think everyone can agree that commissioned art is still in fact art. I think the preconceived notion about art is that it is almost always created specifically for its presentation. A painting, a song, etc are all created with the intent of expressing the emotion of the artist to be interpreted by an audience.

How Does Art Differ From Design?

Design according to Wikipedia is “the process of originating and developing a plan for a product, structure, system, or component with intention.” Which of course is a bit of a curve ball, because a piece of art is indeed created with intention, especially in the case of commissioned art. By definition then, a design is created specifically with functionality in mind first and foremost, to fulfill a need or purpose. So there is the difference, a design must function. Of course a designer is in a way an artist by definition also, just an artist with a purpose.

So is Web Design Considered Art or Not?

In my opinion, art is a large part of designing websites. However web design as a whole is not specifically defined as art. An artist is someone who creates pieces that express emotion which is part of a web designer’s day to day life. However, we take it a step further and turn our works of art into a functioning product to enhance the way our clients conduct business.

As web designers ourselves its understandable how many consider what we do as a whole, art. We look at other’s works through the eyes of artists because we can appreciate and interprate web design from a presentation stand point. However the websites we create are in fact structured systems created to fulfill a business’s need, a product. There are many websites that are “works of art” but if they do not meet the needs of our clients and enhance their business in a possitive way they become a failed design, created by an artist who gave web design a try.

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