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Fine Art or Decorative Art? Which Should I Choose and What’s the Difference?

My goal in this post is to explore some of the differences between Fine Art and Decorative Art. Helping you make informed decisions when choosing.

Fine Art vs Decorative Art

The process of selecting an artwork can sometimes be difficult, especially when you are faced with fine art or decorative art? What do these two terms mean, and how can they differ? Due to the subtle differences between both equally valid types, it can be difficult to decide which is better.

You know what? You shouldn’t be confused any more, because the differences will be ironed out in this post. Keep reading to find out the real difference between these terms.

How to Differentiate Fine Arts from Decorative Arts

The terms; fine arts and decorative arts, have something in common, and profoundly speaking they are both arts. Knowing the difference can be difficult, but in this post, we are going to break down everything for you, and help you make the distinction.

Before I proceed any further, I wish to avoid any condescending overtones, or portray any particular attitude of patronising superiority in respect to either Fine or Decorative Art. As far as I am concerned, these things are always in the eye of the beholder; and at times, interchangeable terms.

Firstly, let’s take a look at how they are produced. Fine art is a unique special piece that you would not get anywhere else, produced by an Artist. Whereas, decorative art is ‘typically’, but not necessarily always, mass-produced for mass consumerism, and it can be easily recreated in vast numbers. Furthermore, objects are usually manufactured with beauty and functionality in mind. It can also be argued that decorative arts enable accessibility to those who wish to project and emulate a certain lifestyle.

From Craft to Commercialism 

I suppose it is fitting to mention Terence Conran, who passed away in September 2020. Conran was an extremely successful English designer, restaurateur, retailer and writer. He is most famously known for founding Habitat in London in 1964. Likely influenced by both Ikea and the British Arts and Crafts Movement (in vogue between 1880 and 1920). Interestingly, Habitat later joined the Ikano Group of companies in 1992 and currently owned by the Kamprad family.

Coran mentioned that much of his work was in the vein of William Morris and his desire to bring; “intelligently designed products to the mass markets.” To go with this post, I created a composite portrait of William Morris – by Frederick Hollyer in 1888, combined with one of his most famous repeating patterns ‘Strawberry Thief’.

"Home is the heart of life. Home is where we feel at ease, where we belong, where we can create surroundings that reflect our tastes and pleasure. Making a home is a form of creativity open to everyone."

Terence Conran

Emotions of Art

Another unique point about fine arts is that they spark emotions, making them ideal for personalised or unique gift ideas. On the other hand, decorative art is just to decorate and make your home or office space beautiful; and although it does the job, it doesn’t quite have the same impressive effect of fine art.

Fine art has a greater meaning, appealing to our emotions. When decorating your home or office, don’t you want to have that strong feeling, that emotional connection and vibe coming from paintings on your wall? I guess you do, and this can easily be achieved through fine art. If you want your office to simply look attractive, you can go for decorative art.

But, if you want something more than decoration, something that connects deeply to the emotions, a thought-provoking design, then fine art is a better alternative and your surest way to go.

When you see an art piece, what comes to your mind? There might be a certain way you could interpret the work. Since it evokes emotions, others will likely interpret the same art piece in a different manner. This is because fine art is carefully crafted, with several factors put into consideration all with the capacity to stimulate the intellect of the viewer. 

When making a piece of art, the artist no matter what discipline puts into consideration factors like context, medium, form and also the subject. But, this isn’t the same with decorative art. Decorative art can be considered somewhat more simple and straightforward, without the same level of attention to detail and meaning added. This is because decorative arts’ purpose is primarily focused on decoration, function, or aesthetics.

Differences Between the Materials Used in Fine Art and Decorative Art

Another major factor that differentiates fine art from decorative art is the materials used. When I create my abstract fluid paintings, just like other fine artists, it is so important to carefully select and use good quality materials.

Obviously the best materials add to the longevity of the artwork and long term value. I like to use good quality deep edge canvases. I am particularly fussy with how the canvas is folded at the corners and some brands are finished to a higher standard than others.

I use high quality acrylic paint with high levels of pigment, permanency, and excellent lightfastness. I also apply a final clear coat to my artwork. This is so important particularly with an acrylic medium, not only to protect the artwork from dust, ultraviolet (UV) rays and yellowing, but because the varnish really brings out the gorgeous vibrancy of the colours.

Depending on the desired finish, this can be Matt, Satin or Gloss clear acrylic varnish or high gloss Art Resin. The finishing coats I apply contain UV light stabilisers, which protect against the damaging effects of UV light overtime.

Did you ever have a favourite mass-produced ‘decorative art’ fade in the sun? This was probably due to the cheap materials used in its production and low levels of lightfastness and protection from UV.

These materials are selected based on the messages the artists are trying to pass across, and for this, it could mean using very expensive materials to get the message passed across more effectively. However, on the other hand, cheap materials are mostly used for decorative art. The materials for decorative art are usually selected based on ease of usage to make the ‘art’ and making the manufacturing faster.

This is why fine art strikes a greater impression and hopefully leaves viewers in amazement, while mass produced decorative art cannot be comparable in the same way.

Creation Process – Machine or Hand?

Still on the differences between both art forms, let’s take a look at the process used in creating them. Obviously, decorative arts are created much faster with economies of scale in mind and without much stress or going through tedious processes. To produce more works as quickly as possible, decorative artists or industries producing the same, might sacrifice quality and details, making the final product very plain. 

For fine art, it is different. A fine artist is passionate about the arts and their chosen discipline, and they give all they have to intuitively create a piece of art that is so much detailed and of high quality. You are also gaining access to years of training and experience of the Artist, that no machine can replicate with the same level of human touch and insight. This is another strong reason why fine art evokes emotions and commands your attention.

If you just want to decorate your office or home wall, then you may decide to choose decorative art because that is the main purpose of making them and that’s fine. However, fine art serves more than just a decoration. Fine art is created mainly to be admired and to provoke emotions. With that said, the purpose of creating a piece of fine art is different from that of decorative art.

Choosing Between Fine Art and Decorative Art

As you have read up to this point, you probably now know the major differences between fine art and decorative art. From the comparison outlined above, we can safely say that decorative art is just for beautifying a space, probably your office walls or walls in your home. Fine art, on the other hand, serves a deeper purpose, since it is created to strike a deep impression on the minds of viewers. So, it is up to you to decide which one to pick.

Deep down in your heart, you don’t just want your office or business space to be decorated you want visitors to be highly impressed and hold your office in high esteem. You want visitors at your home to have something to talk about, something that depicts how classy your home is and how artistically savvy you are! Yes, we may not verbalise it, but we always want where we work or live to be revered and respected.

There are many reasons why someone may decide to buy a work of art. With that in mind, it is highly recommended that you invest in fine art to transform your home, office or business into an attractive and admirable space.

I have custom artworks available immediately to choose from, which will strongly send an impressive message to visitors. However, you may get lost in admiration and wonder which one to choose, but that shouldn’t be the case.

Interestingly, right from the comfort and safety of your home, you can always buy my art online, with Free Worldwide Shipping, all at the click of a button. Whichever original art you want, be it a bespoke Irish artwork, here is a trusted source to get one for your home, office, business, or even as a special gift or commission. 

Let your walls speak for you, go for fine art and choose a suitable art that speaks volumes about your space. No matter where that space is, best go with Ren Creative Works.

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