You may be surprised at how many of the same skills are involved!
Let’s get one important factor out of the way first: Web Design is not Art. Web Design is a form of Graphic Design, and as we all know, the debate about the differences between Art and Graphic Design will likely rage on until the last stars have stopped shining.
With that being said, what similarities could there be between Web Design and Art? It all comes down to the principles involved in creating a successful composition – whatever form that composition might take.
Primary Principles used in both Web Design and Art
There are a surprising number of principles that are common to both of these disciplines, some of which are obvious; others less so. Firstly, Web Designers are constrained by the target resolutions of the devices they are required to target. In much the same way, Artists are similarly constricted by the dimensions of their paper, canvas, or other media when creating artwork for sale.
Using the space available to you interestingly is a technique that both Artists and Web Designers are required to master if they wish to create a compelling and balanced piece of work.
Other primary principles used by both Web Designers and Artists include things such as
Both Artists and Web Designers are required to incorporate several different elements into each piece of work they create, and the proportions of each of these elements are critical to the quality of the finished work.
Proportion in a piece of art may refer to the composition and relationships between the height, weight, and depth of different elements, and have a dramatic effect on how realistic or stylized those elements appear.
Another, perhaps more mundane interpretation of proportion in art describes the sizes of different parts of the artwork and how they interact with one another. It is this second interpretation that shares commonality with the Web Designers’ view of proportion.
Both Artists and Web Designers consider scale as a relative level or degree. Scale defines the largest and smallest elements of a piece of art or webpage, and many people find it useful to establish both of these extremes early on in the creation of their work.
By setting the top and bottom of the scale of a given piece of work, it enables the Artist or Web Designer to better set the appropriate level of scale for each new element they wish to incorporate into their piece.
Any element we introduce to a piece of work has no scale until we can compare it with something else. The moment we paint a new feature or place an element on a webpage, we can immediately judge its scale.
Furthermore, scale isn’t just about size – scale can also describe color, and allow us to contrast elements to create interesting variations, contrasts, and rhythms.
This is perhaps the most obvious similarity – but is often overlooked. Nothing creates an atmosphere quite like color, so this artistic element plays an unrivaled role in web design. Taking a look back in time using services such as the Wayback Machine, or better yet theoldnet.com, you will find endless websites using plain, black backgrounds. This demonstrates that the creators of the earliest websites were clueless about artistic techniques.
The Differences Between Art and Web Design
Modern web design requires that the final product is viewable on several different devices. This means that a professionally produced web page can look different when viewed on, for example, a desktop computer and a smartphone. This “elasticity” is an alien concept to those who produce fine art.
For many artists, every element of their work is created to be viewed exactly the way they create it – if their artwork was to change depending on where it was viewed, it would prevent the artist from being able to express the intention, the feelings, and the emotion that the piece was supposed to exhibit.
But What If…
I feel as if I should add, the possibility exists for an artist to create a piece that does change according to certain factors. How exactly this could be done, I have no idea, but it represents an interesting possibility for artists to explore in the future.
This topic is an interesting extension of the debate between Art vs Graphic Design, as Web Design is heavily related to regular Graphic Design in many ways.
Artists and Graphic Designers have argued for some time about whether their two disciplines are similar or different, and the debate is likely to continue to be discussed for as long as these two pastimes are practiced.
Without question, web designers with knowledge of artistic principles are likely to be more successful than those who do not understand those same principles. Logic, therefore, suggests that these two disciplines are more closely related than even the people practicing them may realize.