Designer vs. Artist vs. Technician

Following my post on being an artist I’ve been thinking about different roles in the creative industry. This could be obnoxious, and I’m certainly not the first to come up with such definitions. Confusion of these rolls is too common–though I'll grant you that this is a completely unnecessary exercise. In light of that my opinions are summed up as follows:

Art = Expression
Design = Solution
Art ≠ Design
Design ≈ Art

For anyone interested I submit the following:


Paul Rand put it succinctly: “Design is a problem solving discipline.” A designer will clearly define the problem they are solving for, explore and test their ideas while applying intuition to aspects that may be unclear or pliable. Depending on the design problem they are working against they will utilize relevant skills that are specific to them or borrow the skills of others to reach a desired outcome. Design can be judged objectively based on how successfully it solves the problem.


Art is the manifestation or application of creative skills and imagination. An artist sets out to express an idea, emotion or concept in a medium of their choosing. An artists work is complete when they have satisfied their impulse to create and are satisfied with the level of craft applied to the piece. Art is judged subjectively based on how any given audience member feels about the work.


The technician applies their personal skill set toward the creation of a planned solution.Their craftsmanship is applied often with ingenuity within the perimeters set for them. While the outcome is known it is at their discretion how that outcome is achieved. The work of a technician is judged on completeness, accuracy and craft involved in the work.