Look Closer: What can designers learn from artists?

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I’ve been making artwork since I was a kid, and continue to do so today. Working as both a graphic designer and an artist has given me a unique perspective on design work. Both artists and designers work in the visual realm, but often have very different goals — while artists explore the elements of composition to express personal feelings or ideas, designers apply these principles to solve problems. Creating artwork gives me a freedom to explore ideas visually that I might not have when creating work for a client. The work I create personally often feeds into and improves the work I do professionally. Here are some of the reasons why I feel that exploring the world of fine art will make you a better designer.

To Learn How To Incorporate New Media Into Design Projects

Fine art is not limited to just paintings and drawings — many contemporary artists are using video, web technology, augmented reality, and environmental design as their media of choice. Artists are often on the front lines of using new and emerging technology in surprising, creative ways. Seeing the ways artists are utilizing new technology to express ideas visually opens my mind to how I can use these new methods in my own projects. As graphic design and branding becomes more immersive and enmeshed with digital culture, designers would do well to look towards the fine arts for inspiration.

To see examples of exciting artworks incorporating digital, web-based, or hi-tech elements, I recommend visiting the websites Creators and Rhizome.

To Stay Ahead Of Design Trends

Creatives working in graphic design, surface design, industrial design, and interior design have often had a symbiotic relationship with fine artists. The Art Nouveau design movement took a lot of inspiration from the dreamy atmospherics of the Symbolist painters of the later 19th and early 20th century. Art Deco’s geometric aesthetic in architecture and fashion was presaged by faceted, blocky styles of painting. If you want to know what will be fresh and exciting in design a few years down the road, pay attention to what’s on view in art galleries right now! You’ll get a great sense of what colors, imagery, and design elements will become the next big thing.

To keep an eye out for trendy up-and-coming contemporary artists, I follow the blogs Jealous Curator, ArtHound, Beautiful Decay, and BOOOOOOM!. I also love the magazines Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose!

Improve Your Observational Skills

A keen sense of observation is a vital skill for graphic designers. By studying artwork, we learn to notice the little things we see. Knowledge of color theory and lighting has helped me as a designer by making me aware of the small details that will make a photo manipulation or illustration feel more convincing.

An even better way to enhance your observational skills is to try making some art yourself. I like to keep my skills fresh by drawing — all you need is paper and pencil! Close observation of the visual environment helps me move away from visual clichés when I’m designing, and find creative new ways to illustrate objects or ideas.

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 July 2017 18:58

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