Canadian web designer and author Paul Jarvis recently wrote a short article for Creativ Magazine about the difference between creatives and artists.
Of course, this debate/question/idea is not new. I'm sure we've been discussing this since well before I even considered the idea. Back when I was doing massage therapy as my full-time gig, I never really thought about it. I was a health care provider, not a 'creative' or an 'artist', no matter what I did in my non-working hours.
But now that I'm working as a web designer/developer, it's something I DO think about. Does it really matter if I label myself as a 'creative professional'? Is that going to make people think I'm a graphic designer too? Do you have to be really artistic to be a 'creative'?
I've read this in many places, and Paul says it in his article too. The difference isn't that artists aren't creative and creatives can't be artists. It's all in the application of the skills. Artists create for the sake of the art. Creatives create with a purpose in mind. And that's a huge difference.
As a web designer, I love finding creative solutions to business problems. I love to create designs that look nice but are also very functional and serve a purpose. Sometimes that is hard to communicate well to my clients, who are focused on making a site that looks a certain way. While I understand they want things to match their branding and convey their personality in an attractive way, it's also super important to make sure the people using their website (that is, the end users) are happy with the design too. It should be easy to navigate, clean, readable, and overall just nice to look at.
So I feel comfortable calling myself creative. Honestly, all of us are creative in our everyday lives. We have to come up with creative ways to deal with problems all the time, whether it be answering a difficult email, deciding where to hang a new picture in our house, or figuring out how to juggle our busy schedule to fit everything in. That's all creativity. It's not all about art.
Artists are awesome, don't get me wrong! I am inspired every day by their work. And all of them are using creativity. They just have artistic skills too.
Are you a creative? Artist? Do you avoid those labels? Do you just call yourself a designer?
Design is not the narrow application of formal skills, it is a way of thinking.
~ Chris Pullman