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The difference between an Artist, Designer, Creative, and Maker.

This can be loaded for any art school kids, so fasten your seat belts!

I was asked the other day if I was an artist, and I responded with, "No, I'm a creative." which resulted in a very confused look via the woman who asked and me following up with, "Let me tell you why... Before I dive into this topic, let me just note that may seem a bit conceited and pretentious, but please know, I come from a world where these distinctions matter. The art world is complicated, and pretentious yes, but I also think there are some things about it that make a lot of sense and this is one of them. I do not think one of these things are better than the other. All are valid, all have their place. Let me take you back. I went to art school at Tufts University. They have a small art college in the city that is associated with the museum there, and I went to try and pursue something I was interested in but not really great at. I loved art, specifically photography and video, but had no clue what I was in for when I wen to art school. First off, I had no idea how weird it got, I had no idea that there were kids who had been going to museums and studying art via their parents since they were born, I had no idea how much art had to do with trauma and emotional concepts, and I had no idea that, however great I thought I could be at photography, I would never be as good as sooooo many people. Like so many. SO there I was in an interior design class. Interior design was something I was passionate about and knew I was really good at. But I was arguing with conceptual artist who insisted that design is not art. I wouldn't let go. I KNEW they were wrong! Design was art. But they wouldn't let up, and after several eye rolls and dismissive sighs later, I realized they were right.

Though we go into the same meditative states when we design and when we make art, the processes are different, and the concepts are different. Let's get into it.


An artist is someone who uses emotional concepts in their work. Art can have design elements inside it, but it's not the same. Artists can be design but design can't really be art, and that all comes down to the emotional concepts around art. Artists really try hard to make work about unresolved trauma, political injustice, or some type of societal point they are trying to make. I will totally be the first to say that some of it's bullshit, and I will also be the first to say there is art that doesn't involve these three things, but I would categorize these as creations before art.

This might be harassing your mellow or recking your vibe. Maybe you thought you were an artist, but by this definition, you aren't. However, I'd like you to stick around. I think the "artist" community is much smaller than we think, and I am perfectly okay with that, because art stenches of pretension that kind of turns me off. And while I am chill with it, and it exists for a reason, and those reasons are great, I'd like to open your mind and be okay with art existing in a small little circle over there. I have some serious PTSD after art school, and I'm okay with not being an artist.


An important distinction between art and design are the concepts. While art explores far more profound and emotional concepts, design is about practicality, aesthetic, and form. Designer's creations serve a very functional purpose. A designer might design a building to be warm and inviting, but also specific of the people who inhabit it. The structure they design may have concepts in and around the functionality of the space that therefore impacts the form. While there may be a rare emotional concept like a tribute or perhaps a special dedication, it's not about exploring the dark sides a psyche or exposing corruption. There is also a pretension within this crowd, it's a bit different than that of the "rule-breaking" artist, and far more about being on trend. A good distinction of a designer would be between an interior designer and an interior decorator. The designer is is designing the form of the space itself, while a decorator is making it look pretty with objects outside of the space itself. Both take unique skills and sometimes a designer can also be a decorator, but they are very different.


The creative makes things that aren't always about concepts. This person draws with no intention, uses a mix of materials to make things for fun, might have multiple talents and don't only stick to one medium. Sometimes, they may make a design or something that is functional, but it probably doesn't have a crazy reason behind it which therefore classify it as creation. A good distinction of a creator would be a nature photographer vs. a fine art photographer. A fine art photographer and a nature photographer might capture and image of the same landscape, but the fine art photographer took it to expose deforestation or as a documentation of where they lost their virginity, but a nature photographer just thought it was pretty and wanted the photo.


Now this is where it all kind of blends together. A maker is someone who makes things for others to buy. They can have function, but the function isn't necessarily the concept unlike a designer. They can also be creations, or art. An artist can be a maker, so can a creative, and so can a designer, or they can be none of those things and only make for the purpose of selling. A carpenter is a really good example of a maker. A carpenter may only make things to sell and never to use or just because. Of course there are exceptions, but of rare occurrence. there are people who only make things for selling, and not for themselves.

Anyway, I hope this was helpful and makes sense. If you have any comments or even disagreements, feel free to comment below, or hit us up! <3 Jess

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