Graphic Design & Fine Art: Two Peas in a Pod

Graphic Design & Fine Art are Two Peas in a Pod
(by Tim Kelly)

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso


Every designer and creative professional I know is really a fine artist at heart. Most creatives were born artists, loved making art as kids & teens and eventually transitioned to design in college.

My story is much the same. I’ve been an artist since birth. Creativity has always felt right. It started with doodling and coloring then moved quickly to sketching cartoons. My parents interrupted my 17 year daydream to ask what I wanted to major in at college. They recommended art, since it made me happy. My parents stressed the importance of doing what you love. Since they never steered me wrong, I enrolled at The West Virginia University School of Creative Arts.

Originally, I went to art school but transitioned to Advertising in my 2nd year. Earning a living as an agency creative, as opposed to a fine artist, seemed more practical. But, I never stopped making art.

The thing is, graphic arts and fine arts are two peas in a pod. Advertising creative/graphic design (like fine art) is a combination of balance, color theory and creative story telling. They really have the same goals: get people thinking and elicit a response, emotion or action.

After college, I began working in advertising with a focus on design and print production. In 2000 I began working for a 5th Avenue branding & design agency in NYC. The whole time, I never stopped making and selling my art.

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In 2006, I resigned from my agency and started CreativeSeven, an award winning design boutique specializing in branding, creative development & production management. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. Still, I never stopped making art.

Each day I toggle between design and art projects. Toggling allows me to step away from each project, while remaining in the “creative zone”. Graphic art and fine art are two peas in a pod… both are forms of creative expression.

Soon the freedom offered by my freelance career allowed me to pursue more art opportunities. In addition to being a creative director, designer and artist, I began teaching art and facilitating creative workshops. My professional life and means of income are 100% creative.

When I meet a colleague during an advertising or design project, I know they’re an artist and always have been. I ask. Many still paint, but many do not. Some feel you must be either “a designer” OR “an artist”… not both. But I say you can be both. It’s OK. Expressing one’s self with fine art may even make you a better designer or creative professional. Never stop making art. Why should you? Design and art really are just two peas in a pod.

– My design site:
– My creative workshops:
– My art:
– My world-wide art project: