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Graphic Art Verses Visual Fine Art — there IS a difference


zentao.com logo and trademarkI got a request for an interview a while back, and one of the distinctions that I had to regularly make during the conversation was: “Graphic artists and fine artists are promoted in distinctly different ways.  Which are we speaking of?” This gentleman wanted to know about promoting “fine artists,” but the discussion often got into specifics that automatically reverted to graphic arts, so we had to keep returning to defining the difference. 

Let’s talk about this distinction a bit: A visual graphic artist can be a visual fine artist, but a visual fine artist won’t necessarily be a visual graphic artist.  I make this distinction since what I do is promote both kinds of art and both kinds of artists, and each type of art and each type of artist is promoted in a different way. 

Since I deal with the “public” and with “artists”, I think about these distinctions in terms that allow me to find common ground with the needs and desires of the people who walk through my business door.  For the majority who want “graphic art” from me, “graphics” means visual images for commercial use, the word “image” connoting (notice I did not say ‘denoting’) something created for usability, not aesthetics.  “Fine art” on the other hand denotes “art for art’s sake,” art that has an intrinsic aethestic value first and foremost, though potentially of commercial value as well. An original oil painting is not, by that understanding, a graphic image.  It’s an oil painting — fine art.  Same is true of an original watercolor, pastel or color pencil image done specifically as “art for art’s sake.”

Think of it this way: No professional graphic artist working toward a deadline is going to stretch a canvas, prime it, mix their oils, and ply brush when the light is “just right.”  Ain’t going to happen.  A professional oil painter, yes.  But not a graphic artist.  A professional graphic artist (…and even an amateur) is going to sit down with their medium of choice (which nowadays means to open a computer program), then create an image with knowledge and skill, meticulously and specifically because somebody is paying them to make it for some reason.  And the reason usually is commercial — the person who ordered it is paying money to the graphic artist to create something to be used for a project or application.  A fine artist, on the other hand, creates an image with no specific project in mind, except maybe to sell “their art.”

See the difference?

If I’m doing an art project, that distinction is important.  It’s even more important if I’m building a Signature Series website for an artist client.  Are they building a career to make money creating commercial art for clients, or are they creating art to sell as art, trying to make a name for themselves as the next great Van Gogh or Picasso?

So, why is this distinction important?

Well, the whole question came up because the interviewer was looking for information on how artists can promote themselves using the Internet.   The techniques for promoting yourself and your career as a professional graphic artist are completely different from the techniques you must use to promote yourself as a fine artist.

Clear?  Or did I just stir the water into mud?



Originally posted by DLKeur on her art blog on June 13, 2007. Copyright inheres.



Copyright 2007 D.L.Keur &/or F.W.Lineberry, http://www.zentao.com . All rights reserved. Reprint rights granted ONLY if linked and credited.




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