Digital art and web design: The similarities and differences

Many people think the roles of digital artist and web designer, if not identical, would at least overlap. Whilst they share areas of skill, and use similar tools, they differ in the most important aspect – their purpose.

Image Credit offers a useful description of the difference here: Cultured Vultures also provide an insight into the distinction.

So what is an artist?

Perhaps an answer to this question is that an artist is the sole source of the concept being communicated. The function of an art work is to attract the interest of its audience, to put across the concept the artist has created. The art has succeeded if the audience is drawn to it. Strangely, the artist’s original concept is not the sole target. An artist may, for instance, show an image of death, which an audience finds thrilling. Though not the prime intention of the artist, this outcome may still be regarded as artistic success.

How about a designer?

A designer has a significant third element in the communication they produce. Like the artist, they will use the same digital tools, techniques, and similar skills. Additionally, the designer must pass over information about a product, service, or organisation. This is the underlying purpose of design, and the success of the digital output depends on it being achieved. No matter how beautiful the imagery, if the information about, for instance, motor tyres, is not efficiently delivered, the work will fail. Indeed, there are some arguments that visual attractiveness works against the efficiency of communication, and it should therefore be avoided.

If you are looking to commission a website, then you’d be well advised to seek out a company with good design skills, such as Cardiff web designer Netcentrics, rather than a digital artist.

Could somebody be both?

Of course. As the skills and tools are very similar, one individual could occupy both roles. However, the person concerned would not do both activities in one expression. Most digital artists would be offended to be called a web designer, seeing this as an insult to their creative talent. Web designers on the other hand, may be quietly pleased to be considered artists. They would keep that pleasure quiet though, when seeking design work, understanding the discipline required.