Recently I’ve independently read a couple of variations on one idea for distinguishing art from design. It goes something like this: graphic design is of the moment, something created for a specific purpose which, when past, presumably renders the work forgettable. Art, on the other hand, is enduring. I’m not in agreement with this, although I don’t think there is necessarily a black and white distinction. One of the pieces I read is by Steven Heller, who allows that a work can straddle both worlds. An excerpt:

“The growing archive of modern graphic design includes works by formidable practitioners who influenced styles, epitomized epochs and left indelible marks on common perception. Such imagery as Herbert Bayer’s Bauhaus magazine cover, E. McKnight Kauffer’s poster for the Daily Herald and Alexander Rodchenko’s constructivist paperback covers are signposts of innovation. Due to their functional nature, however, these and other works are usually viewed as artifacts. Many should be seen and appreciated as art.”

This is from a reprinted essay on Herbert Matter, one of the best graphic designers you’ve never heard of. Read it here: