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Design is Not Art

The legendary Paul Rand once defined design as “art in the service of commerce.” I respectfully disagree; the two are intrinsically opposed. Art celebrates expression, while commerce rewards conformity.

To make a living as a creative the way our social and economic space is constructed requires a Faustian bargain with our patrons and clients: I’ll sell my soul/creativity/work to you so that you can be more successful, as long as you pay me something. Cash preferred, but ego-pumping will do in a pinch.

Until we stop selling the power of our methods out like street-corner entrepreneurs, we will always be aesthetes, operating on the margins. Design is neither art nor commerce; it is an essential human activity, it is both the act of making sense of the world and the art of engaging it.

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