What Is Visual Art and How to Get the Most Out of It

Many have asked ‘What is visual art?’ and have gotten different answers. Visual art is a broad term and can’t be defined by a single sentence. In a simple sense, visual art is for all types of art forms that can be seen or viewed, including filmmaking and performance and dance. These can be further classified into different types, defining the differences between each visual art and how they relate to each other.

The term ‘arts’ itself has gone through many definitions throughout history. The arts were limited to seven categories in the Middle Ages; namely arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, grammar, rhetoric, dialectic logic, and music. These categories were the so-called fine arts because they were studied by scholars, making them different among the labor class. After a few years, society has divided the purposes of science and art, separating them into different categories. Thus, the Middle Age fine arts lost all its science categories but gained literature, dance, and opera into their definition.

performative arts

Image via pexels

After the 20th century, the arts split into four distinct categories: literature, visual arts, auditory arts, and performance arts. This is where visual arts initially came to be. Fast forwarded to the modern times, visual arts encompassed paintings, sculptures, videography, photography etc. Many art forms have also taken into shape because of technological advancement. Referring to the initial definition of what is visual art, visual arts are something the eyes appreciate for whatever purpose it may bring. And it has found its way into our daily lives through graphic design.

Different types of visual arts

Nowadays, visual arts are classified into different types, and we will define the common types known to the general population.

Fine arts

sculpture, a a sample of fine art

Image via pexels

Defined as a type of art with visually pleasing qualities, fine arts allow artists to express themselves without limit. This type of art also enables artists to create art without the need for utility. Thus, it can be displayed or be used as a decoration for its own sake. Fine arts almost always cover the seven middle age categories above, but traditional definitions limit them to sculpture, painting or sketching and architecture. Fine arts are not to be confused by the comparative high art and low art. Many high art forms do not necessarily fall on the traditional definitions of fine arts.

Decorative arts

a sample of decorative art

Image via pexels

Also called crafts, decorative arts have both aesthetic reasons and function, often disregarded as an art form due to it having both. Decorative arts are also seen in common goods and items but are separate from mass-produce items. Decorative art includes pottery, basket weaving, needlework, interior items but excludes architecture.

Commercial arts

a sample of commerical art

Image via pexels

Commercial arts also have both utilitarian purposes and aesthetic purposes but often, commercial arts are used for monetary gain. Marketing creatives often create commercial arts, usually commissioned by brands and businesses to convey a specific message. These commercial arts are often seen in publications, graphic design and design services, photography, motion picture and the like.

Visual Artists and Graphic Design

Graphic design falls under the commercial arts of visual arts. Sometimes, it is also called applied arts. Applied arts are design and decorative concepts applied to everyday practical and utility objects to make them more pleasing. There has been tremendous debate whether to call graphic design as artists. Sometimes, some designers call themselves artists. But artists rarely call themselves designers.

Looking at their definition and function, artists and designers differ quite a bit. Though many of their concepts may overlap, artists create art that allows the artist to express themselves through visually pleasing forms. Whereas designers create artforms that convey a specific message. By function alone, artists and designers differ quite a bit. And knowing what visual art is all about, some of these concepts can be used on design.

The end goal of each art form also differs. While artists use art to inspire a feeling or provoke a thought, a designer’s ultimate goal is to convey a branding or a message. Artists and designers have different priorities. But designers still create visual art by definition. With that said, many of art’s principles may apply to graphic design. And there are many ways we can take advantage of that.

An interesting mix of visual art concepts

How does one take advantage of visual art principles for graphic design? Every visual art type can relate to graphic design but not all of it applies the same way. For example, sculpting relates to 3D form, which graphic design can relate in a way through 3D animation and illustration. Painting principles can relate to digital art.

Many well-known brands have taken advantage of the elements and principles of art and have translated them through graphic design. And long as it helps convey your message, you can apply these principles to help get your message across while maintaining a high-quality art form.

  • The element of color is the best example. Color is important but not only does it affect your graphic design’s visuals, but it also affects the viewers psychology. Many great artists emphasize color as a channel to convey certain emotions and these can apply to graphic design as well.
  • In graphic design, viewers often look at a two-dimensional piece. The element of form can also relate here if we want to take advantage of giving an object a certain height, depth, and width to create an illusion of three dimensionality.
  • The principles of art such as rhythm, balance, and proportion should also be studied when applicable. Some brands have taken advantage of these principles
  • Space has been by many brands to convey messaging. Some brands like using their white space when creating logos.
  • The principle of movement is also important for graphic design. When a viewer sees your project, they must know where their eyes should go to clearly understand the branding or the message. Graphic design has no time for abstract concepts, the message and direction must be clear from the start.

Should design services incorporate visual arts?

Graphic design services rarely talk about the principles of visual arts, but the question is, should it matter if they do? Robust knowledge of the elements of art and the principles of design can certainly provide an edge for a graphic designer and designer services. But more so, the capability of an artist or an art director to apply these principles can certainly give you an edge.

Visual art principles don’t all necessarily have to be used in a single project, but having the knowledge to use them, when necessary, can certainly give you an edge. A good graphic designer always reviews their elements and principles and applies them to their projects so they can convey their message much clearer. This helps audiences understand the brand clearly without having to think twice.

DotYeti trains only the top graphic designers to work on client designs. We train them under knowledgeable art directors who make use of visual art principles when necessary for your branding. For a subscription of $499 per month, you get a dedicated graphic designer who can work on your designs and make them into a reality. Interested? Sign up now for an easy, affordable, and efficient graphic design service.

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