I find there is a little misunderstanding about being an artist and a designer, and often it looks like design is art in many peoples eyes. But, there is a clear difference between the two.
The differences between design and art is very much in the intention behind them. Each have primary and secondary intentions.
Designs primary intention is to serve a purpose, which it must do. This purpose can be to capture, control, convey, and evoke. Design reflects usability and wants of the users.
Arts primary intention is to be aesthetically pleasing. Occasionally the primary purpose is to convey a message or story, but this can’t over power the aesthetics. Art does not have some greater purpose to it’s consumers beyond viewing.
Designs secondary intention is to have aesthetics that are pleasing, but these aesthetics must clearly accompany the primary purpose. We all know the aesthetics of different brands, take Coca-Cola for example and it’s unique red color, but these aesthetics work for the purpose, with Coca-Cola it is brand recognition.
How art and design delivery their intention is also different. Art has much more flexibility on delivery, it can be very clear or very much up to personal interpretation or utterly subtle; it’s all at the discretion of the artist. Design, however, has less flexibility. Since design always serves a purpose, that purpose must be known somehow. It can be more subtle and very clear, but it must be known regardless.
Consumers play a part in both art and design, however they are very different. In design, the consumer is always in mind to make sure it works for the targeted people. Design has a purpose, and must delivery the purpose to the consumers effectively. Art, however, doesn’t need the same engagement. Art is about enjoyment for consumers, and they don’t have to understand the purpose to appreciate it. Art is less about those who consume it and more about the artist themselves.
Although art and design have similarities and shared intentions, they are inherently different acts.