What graphic designers can take from contemporary art

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A graphic artist who is constantly looking for new sources of inspiration can find it in the most diverse places, from a piece of graffiti glimpsed from a train to an artist’s signature in the corner of a picture.

The world of contemporary art provides a rich variety of great ideas for reasons that are implicit in its name. It is always offering something new, inspirational and innovative. As such, contemporary art can serve as an important influence for graphic designers in the following five ways:

  • It challenges conventional thinking.
  • It offers new approaches to creative design.
  • It provides unique sources of inspiration.
  • It allows for a blending of cultural concepts.
  • It helps graphic designers embrace the latest art trends.

Where to look

There is no shortage of contemporary art galleries in every major city where you can seek inspiration. However, if you wish to find something a little out of the ordinary and truly cutting edge, then it is always a good idea to venture a bit off the beaten track.

For example, no visitor to Zurich should miss Galerie Gmurzynska on Paradeplatz. Originally established in 1960s Cologne, the gallery has a reputation for consistently featuring art that is rather unusual. As a case in point, while it loosely specializes in Russian avant-garde exhibits, it is currently hosting an exhibition on American icons.

This is just one example of the hidden treasures that you can find throughout Europe if you look beyond the usual tourist trails and well-known galleries such as the Tate Modern.

Drawing inspiration

If you are a graphic designer who is new to contemporary art, then you may have some doubts as to what you can take out of it. You might be reluctant to admit it, but you would not be the first to say that you don’t “get” a piece of art. Just keep in mind that every piece of art is not designed to appeal to everyone in the world.

Even if a piece of art does not strike a chord with you, there is much to be learned from considering what inspired the artist to create it and what it says to other people who view it. The range and diversity of what is loosely labeled as contemporary art provides a perfect opportunity to examine it from different viewpoints and perspectives.

The most common criticism of modern art is that it “does not look like anything,” but it is not quite that simple. What people actually mean is that it does not look like anything else, because unlike a portrait or a landscape, it is not attempting to recreate something that already exists. Put another way, is it more artistic to paint a representation of a church or create something entirely new?

The idea is that contemporary art challenges conventional thinking and helps you approach the entire sphere of graphic design from a new angle.

Give it a try

If preconceived notions about what you do and do not appreciate have so far prevented you from entering a contemporary art gallery, then take the plunge and give it a try. It will broaden your perspectives and inspire you to create better designs. And you never know — you might just like it too!

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