Insights   |  Artwork vs Design

Artwork vs Design

The difference is clear...
or is it?

Jason explains why you need to know the difference when hiring a freelance service...

Over the years it has become increasingly apparent to me at least, that the demise of the traditional print industry, replaced by digital alternatives has been a leading factor in the increasing lack of understanding of the design process, along with, & dare I say it, poor educational training & lack of apprenticeships compounding the problem. There is also the question of software developers constantly 'improving' their software to allow the designer to do things that really they have no business doing, compounding the problem further. 

Unfortunately, the line in the sand between artworker & designer is not quite as clear-cut as you would have imagined for some people partly due to these factors.

The cross over

It has to be said, however, that the skill sets CAN cross over in some cases, when for instance a last-minute image change is required. You wouldn't want your designer to implement an artworking task even though it is also a design task fundamentally. Non the less, this grey area I believe is another contributing factor as to why so many people get so confused.

Software developers do not help matters!

Let's go back to the issue of software developers adding to the confusion for a moment. Why are they putting
3d elements in the hands of 2d designers or video capabilities in retouching programs it's completely crazy!.
It reminds me of when DTP first entered the scene back in the 80's & Fleet Street laid off all its typesetters
& proofreaders in favour of letting the journalists key their stories directly. The standard dropped considerably. Why, because you can't expect one person to do three peoples jobs. A journalist may be good at writing a story but that doesn't mean that they are competent typesetters & you can't read your own work productively.

Put that into context for a moment. What the software developers are doing, is allowing people without a knowledge of the key skill that the software is introducing them too, via a watered-down addon to their software & you wonder why the job is costing more money due to do overs. We will talk in depth more about software issues in another paper.

My point is this, there are certain roles in the industry that are specialised. They should remain specialised in
order to keep standards up to a high level. Allowing anyone to do anything within the realms of the graphics industry only degrades the final output long term. The new generation of creatives have little or no knowledge of the analogue aspects of design output. They have been taught that the old ways are dead & digital is the only way which is not quite the case.

The new breed are so focused on the digital, where as long as it looks good on screen chances are it will be ok for their digital uses, that they forget that everything else actually requires a level of expertise they have not been taught or lack experience in. Analogue aspects require specialist creatives & production staff to fulfil the desired design correctly as much as new techniques require their own skill sets. We will talk more on Digital vs Print later.

Contracting a freelance service

When contracting an individual to carry out certain roles you want to make sure you are using the correct skill set. Here we would like to give a little advice in regards to helping solve some common design studio issues not to mention save you time & money by getting the right people to do the right job they are trained for. Not only is it essential to getting the job carried out to the best possible standard it should also be noted that if the wrong expert is used then productivity is going to suffer. let's be very clear they are two very different roles.

The current lack of understanding causes all sorts of issues primarily & most importantly in terms of turnaround & budget. Projects that go over budget tend to do so because designers, I am sorry to say, often do not want to get their hands dirty with the nuts & bolts after the fun concept work is complete & therefore pass on that work to an artworker / creative artworker. The account handlers & project leads are unaware of the correct process & allow this to happen. Now in our case, it's perfectly fine, we generally run with it & make it happen due to the fact we are creative as well as production based. However, this is bad practice in most cases. More often than not I come across briefs whereby I have been asked to create artworks based on a set of rough guidelines. Fortunately, I am as much of a designer as I am an artworker, retoucher or animator which is why my service is sought after. BUT not everyone is multi-talented & therefore you should either avoid such practices or just simply contact us to help you out.

What is the role of the artworker

The common misconception is that the role of the artworker is to make amendments to a design.
This obviously happens but is NOT the primary role.

The function of an artworker is to make sure a design works on a press or any other medium the final piece of work will be living in. This will mean that all colours have to be checked, altered if need be all the design elements line up & are consistent across the board & that all imagery is at the correct size for the piece in terms
of resolution.

What is the role of the creative artworker

The creative artworkers role is much the same as the artworkers role with one exception. The creative artworker gets paid more because they have a creative eye & therefore can actually make more design based decisions when finalising an artwork. This in itself adds even more grey area to the differences between designer & artworker however if you need an artworker that can make creative decisions because your design team have passed the baton then you need to ask for a creative artworker & expect to pay more for that skill set. 

The role of the designer

The designer's role is essentially visual, there is no requirement for the designer to create work that is ready for print, in either digital or litho formats. The job of the designer is simply to make sure the concept looks good & that all raw data is displayed in a pleasing & easy to use manner for the end user. This does not stop at the concept stage all materials should be designed & signed off prior to handing over to the production team. The reason for this is simple, the designer fundamentally has a better understanding of the project at hand, as they have been on it from day one. It is far more cost effective to have the designer complete the design & have it signed off prior to getting an artworker / creative artworker to make the files ready for print. 


If you are in need of a little extra help in achieving your creative goals,
need some advice or simply need to offload a project you have no
internal resource for then get in contact today.