A-school or D-school?
There is an age-old debate, especially in design schools about art vs design. There is a strong need to differentiate design from the arts, especially the visual arts. Many a time, designers have reacted strongly when they are referred to as artists, with a vehement 'No we are NOT artists' kind of reaction. There is a need for design to be recognized in India as a stand-alone profession, without any of the old bedfellows.
'Art and design' is a term in itself, coined over time. Many colleges and courses refer to themselves as 'Art and Design' schools. My under-graduate programme in Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai was an Art and Design programme. Applied Art is another term commonly used to describe Graphic Design in particular. It stems from the older days of the profession. It was art, that was applied for commercial purpose. Prior to Independence India did not have any 'design schools' per se. The closest thing to design were the art schools, with their Fine Art and Commercial/Applied Art and perhaps Architecture Departments. So art and design seemed like natural partners. Post-Independence India saw the rise of D-schools. In the West too, Bauhaus and Ulm were the real forerunners and pioneers of pure design, unallied with any other profession.
Still, it's a bit perplexing when designers recoil from art. Design and art can feed each other in a healthy manner, instead of being kept strictly apart. Reminds one of the old days of Convent education when boys and girls were not to interact with one another under any circumstance. In the same way, its unnatural to keep art and design at arm's length from one another. It is like trying to separate maths and science. Each can be studied in isolation, but they share certain core principles and at the basic level it helps to study both. Visual communication would gain immensely from a little more hobnobbing with art. An exercise in the various print-making techniques would help students in understanding of colour, form, and composition among other things. Great artists, though not designers, have design sense. And great design is as beautiful as any piece of art.
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