Designer. Graphic artist. Graphic designer. Artist. Commercial artist. What’s the difference? To be honest they all seem like titles thrown around indiscriminately. Then I came across a simple, honest and unbelievably accurate way of determining which side of the fence you want to be on.
Consider this: A successful Designer likes to solve problems posed by other people. An Artist prefers to solve their own problems.
I think this is an important distinction to understand. If you are a Designer, your job is to make the client happy using the skills you have that your clients don’t: the ability to work with color, images, and words to speak on behalf of your client. Your skills and ideas are a means to their end product. That can be a bitter pill to swallow for some designers. That’s because the artist inside wants to take control.
The Artist is a creator. They generate the ideas, experience the emotions, and communicate through their work. The Artist works for himself and has no client to answer to. It’s the Artist’s style, their product that draws the clients, not the other way around. The Artist’s struggle is to find clients who appreciate their work…but don’t strive to change it.
So which side of the fence are you on? For the record I consider myself a Designer. I do enjoy solving the design dilemmas of others. But as a trained artist I hope my clients realize they came to me for a reason. Whether it’s an ability to convey their truth, or to create one for them.
The world needs Designers and Artists. But I say, the concept of a Commercial Artist is dead.