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Media Art

Media Arts is a genre that encompasses artworks created with new media technologies including photography, video, computer graphics, computer animation and the Internet. This is a broad, new and evolving area incorporating combinations of computers, video, television and interactive media.

As a field with somewhat blurred boundaries, it has some basis in the fine arts but mainly makes use of design skills and computers. Communication is usually at the center of this work, so students are aided by a knowledge of graphic design and visual theory as well as computer software.

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"Design" areas are often called commercial or applied art (fine art images "applied" to a commercial purpose become "illustration", for example). Here, there is almost always a client for whom the design is done and a specific commercial result--such as an ad campaign, an office plan or a corporate logo.

The fact that the work is not "fine art" does not mean it is not expressive or inventive; all design needs to be creative. The difference is that in design the impetus for the work is external rather than internal, and the result is intended to be commercial.

In fine arts and crafts, the work created is usually sold (a commercial result) when it is finished. However, except for specific commissions, it is usually not created for a client.

Graphic Design is one of the largest and most diverse of all the visual fields. Often called graphic design, it is now frequently referred to as communication design or visual communications, to more fully suggest the central role of communication in this field of work. Graphic design can cover virtually anything--including ads, magazines, signage, website, packages, or corporate identify systems--that involves combining words and images to communicate something to others. A strong sense of composition and color are essential, but so is experience in communication theory, sociology and problem solving. Some professionals in this field work on their own in a freelance mode, although many work with others in offices (large or small) for corporate clients.

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Fine Arts

There are a wide variety of words and phrases used to discuss the fields of art and design, and the differences between some of them are matters of nuance only.

Traditionally, "fine art" refers to those areas that are derived from and motivated by personal expression, without the involvement of a direct "client" or a commercial purpose. These include painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, photography, film, video, performance, and related areas. A close relative is "crafts", which typically includes ceramics, jewelry, woodworking and textiles--and all their variants.

Crafts often have a more utilitarian and commercial purpose (hand-woven clothing, earrings, etc), and many times are produced in multiples. But the border between crafts and the fine arts is becoming more and more porous and blurred.

  • Drawing
  • Ceramics & Clay
  • Glass & Glass Blowing
  • Mixed Media
  • New Genre & Performance
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Sculpture

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Other Areas

This is a very limited list:

Some areas of art and design are quite specialized and rare. This would include areas such as art administration or gallery administration and museum studies, which combine art or art history knowledge with administrative or management skills. Medical illustration (drawing or painting in service to the medical profession) is another highly specialized area offered by only a handful of schools.

Toy design is a new and growing area--previously related only to traditional children's toys--it now includes computer and interactive game design.

Many artists and designers also move into tangential areas such as theater, music, art history and criticism, and creative writing.

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