Difference Between Fine Art And Applied Art In Details

The creation and final result of the artwork determine the difference between fine art and applied art. In fine art, there is always a freehand approach. On the contrary, applied art deals with technicality and materialized work.
Art is not just an activity. It embodies an emotion, a mode of human expression, and a wonderful display of the mere existence of mankind. Art is everywhere.

Do you want to make art your field of study? Do you aspire for art as a career? Are you confused between fine and applied art?

Well, people often tend to overlap the two. It is very natural to not be able to distinguish between the two.

However, for your convenience, we have digressed on fine art vs. applied art. At the end of this article, you will know everything to distinguish between the two.

What is Art?

There is no agreed or concrete definition of what encompasses art. You cannot confine the range of artwork in a box.

Art encompasses a diverse range of human activities. Artists create visual or auditory artworks, expressing his imaginative and conceptual ideas.

The urge to create an artwork stems from human tendency to express oneself in his work.

Artwork has existed since the very existence of mankind. What art means has gradually changed over the centuries.

The term fine art came to light in the early 17th Century. It depicts an artist’s skill to convey a social, political, theological message through his piece, to induce the viewer’s aesthetic senses, to draw them to a more refined version of art.

Using these skills, artists produce applied art as a piece for commercial and industrial purposes.

The circumference of art is like unchartered waters. It is not possible to define art or any particular branch of art using concrete definitions.

The arena of art is always expanding, drawing new features, creating new dimensions.

A Historical Perspective

Art was getting increasingly secularized during the industrial revolution. With this secularization, some new differences began to arise between fine and applied art.

Suddenly, manufacturers realized that their products need to look pretty and decorative.

The demand for aesthetics increase and designed schools were being established.

The distinguishing features between fine art and applied art was pretty clear until the middle of the 20th Century.

Back then, artists used to manufacture applied art solely for commercial purposes. On the contrary, fine art exhibited emotions, aesthetics, and expressions.

In the 1960s art movement called the Pop Art subverted and merged the differences between fine and applied art.

Pop artist, Andy Warhol produced images in mass using the tools of a commercial artist. His silkscreened Brillo boxes are a daunting example of how applied art can merge with fine art.

What Is Fine Art?

Have you ever tried to express yourself through a creation? This is the fundamental notion of fine art.

Fine art is often called “art for art’s sake.” It is usually practiced for its aesthetic sentiment rather than functional value.

Fine Art has an inner beauty and meaningfulness. It has creative expression and intricate details.

The origin of fine art takes us back to the Acheulian period of prehistoric art. During the renaissance, the profession of an artist was elevated. The importance of designed elements increased.

You can find the roots of this particular arena of art in drawing, painting, sculpture, and print-making.

What Is The Purpose Of Fine Art?

Fine art is not produced for commercial purposes. They are rather produced for evoking an emotion or generating an intellectual response.

Artists want to convey a message through fine art. They try to capture the surrounding environment in their canvas.

Efficiency is not the primary concern here. Fine artists are always experimenting, trying new things until their message is portrayed in the canvas.

Fine art does not blend with the background. They are aesthetically pleasing, stand out, and grab the attention of the viewers.

Previously it was considered that any art created for a client or commercial purposes is not fine art. However, this notion of fine art has changed over time.

What does Fine Art Include?

With the pace of time, advancement in technology, and artistic invention, fine art is always embracing new activities. However, fine art usually comprises of the following things.
1. Drawing

  • Charcoal
  • Chalk
  • Pastel
  • Pencil
  • Caricature

2. Painting

  • Tempera painting
  • Oil Painting
  • Gouache
  • Water-colour painting

3. Sculpture Print-Making

  • Bronze
  • Stone
  • Wood carving

4. Music
5. Writing
6. Photography

What is Applied Art?

The art that applies design and intricate details in mundane utilitarian objects to make them look visually pleasing are applied art. Applied art is ever-present.

Applied art prettifies everyday functional objects. The sole purpose is to provide intellectual or aesthetic stimulation to the viewer.

Architecture is considered to be the first applied art. Applied art takes comparatively less time to produce than fine art as the main objective is to fulfil consumer’s needs.

Applied art generated in the art movements i.e. Art Nouveau, Art Décor, Arts and Crafts Movements, Bauhaus.

From teapot or chairs to walls of a concert hall, all of these are applied art examples.

What is the Purpose of Applied Art?

After the industrial revolution, it became apparent that products need to be decorative and pretty for looming sales. And hence, making products look visually appealing became important.

Applied art works on the beautification of utilitarian objects around us. From a fountain pen to your computer’s mouse, they all are applied art.

Applied art can make a mundane object in our house look eye captivating.

Applied art does not focus much on propagating a message. Their gist is easy to comprehend.

Unlike fine art, they take less time for completion. The artists produce them for commercial purposes, in exchange for a commission.

Though over the years, many artists have often tried to capture a message in applied art as well.

What does Applied Art Include?

Applied art is usually made for commercial purposes. They usually include the following.

  • Industrial design
  • Architecture
  • Ceramic art
  • Calligraphy
  • Graphic design
  • Automotive design
  • Mosaic art
  • Goldsmithing
  • Tapestry

Which One Among Fine Art And Applied Is Visual Art?

There is a widespread opinion that all fine art is visual art.

Art forms that are visual in nature and encompass an extraordinarily wide scope are visual art. Scrutinizing the artwork, you can find the difference between fine art and visual art.

An oil painting, a commercial painting, an animated movie all of these are visual art.

Fine arts are made to propagating a message, for the satisfaction of the artist.

However, there are many visual artworks created for commercial purposes. Architecture, graphics, fashion design are applied art. They are visual and are created for particular clients.

Hence, artwork is not something you can label. You cannot compartmentalize them in boxes.

Visual art is often preconceived as fine art. But bear in mind, there are many visual artworks created solely for commercial purposes.

So do not let labeled notions of art dictate artwork for you. Rather try to comprehend the gist of the artwork.

You will find the answer for yourself.

Fine Art vs. Applied Art: A Nitty Gritty

After all these elaborate discussions on fine art and applied art, we are providing a short guide on them.

1. Creation time: Fine art is created for the satisfaction of the artist. He can work on it as long as he is not satisfied. 

On the other hand, applied art is made for a client. So one needs to stick to a deadline.

Hence, it is clear that fine art takes more time to create.

2. Beauty : Fine art does not necessarily have to be pretty. The main reason behind creating is spreading a message.

On the contrary, applied art beautifies our daily boring objects. They are made for commercial purposes.

So applied art always needs to be pretty, meet some beauty standards.

3. Inner Message: In fine art, an artist propagates his political, theological, or spiritual message. It always has a hidden message, an inner gist.

Applied art does not usually have an inner message. They beautify an object making it worthy of decoration.

4. Price: Art is an emotion. And you cannot find the price of emotion with bare eyes.

A piece of fine art may not be expensive now. But its price may increase over the years.

An applied artwork is easy to sell. But the price does not differ much with time.

For your ease, we have tried to bring out the distinguishing features of fine art and applied art. However, remember that art cannot be labeled and confined. The dimensions of fine art and applied art can often overlap.

It depends on the artist and on how he produces his artwork.

Fine Art or Applied Art Which One Is Better To Study?

Well, to find the answer you need to find your area of passion. We have given the description and examples of fine art and applied art.

Laymen tend to overlap the concepts of fine and applied art. But there are fine lines of distinctions between the two.

Art colleges out there provide separate courses for both fine and applied art.

Fine art is a broader term than all the other forms of art. Students who love painting, sculpture, pottery making, making murals can opt for studying in fine arts.

After completion of their degree, students will know where they should specialize in.

Students who love decoration and beautification, are drawn towards visual objects can study applied arts. The field of applied art is wide. It encompasses many career lucrative prospects such as architecture, graphic design, film making, fashion design, interior design.

Hence, find out your favorite area of art. You will understand which one is for you to go for a degree in.

When you are about to enroll in an art college, find out what courses they are providing, how efficient their particular art faculties are.

Which One Has More Career Options?

A starving artist has always been romanticized. But the stringency of money to pay rent and bills do not seem very appealing.

In fine art, there is usually focus less on commercial purposes. The artists want to generate a message through their artwork.

On the contrary, objects of applied art are always looked for. You can clearly understand the career opportunities in interior, graphics, and fashion design, architecture, film making.

So if you want to make easy and quick money, applied art is the field to do so. You will have constant work and a steady income.

However, art is something people do for satisfaction. If you are okay with waiting for paychecks to roll in, fine art is suitable for you.

Is Fine Art More Expensive Than Applied Art?

Now that is a rhetorical question. The value of artwork always baffles people outside the art market.

The value of an artwork is subjective. You cannot comprehend the price of a piece just by the price of canvas, colors, and brushes. The psychological value of art comes from the message of the artwork, its quality, and originality.

Generally speaking, objects of applied art are always in demand. You can easily sell a piece of your applied artwork.

But the price of your artwork will always remain the same. It will not have a commendable increase in price with years.

On the other hand, fine artwork is a huge investment. A fine artwork might not be very expensive now. But ten years from now, its price might be tripled.

Fine art is solely to generate a message and has an aesthetic sentiment attached. That is why its price cannot be fixed easily.

You can get instant money for a piece of applied art. Fine art can turn out to be a good investment in the long run.


In every sphere of life, you will find art. Some create art for one’s soul, some create it for money.

Fine art captures a message, propagates a thought. It has deep sentiment buried in the artwork.

The decorative materials in your house, the interior decor of your bedroom, the animated images of a film are all applied art. They turn mundane utilitarian objects pretty and decorated.

We have discussed all you need to know about fine art vs. applied art.

Now it’s up to you which one you want to practice.

Pour your hurt in the canvas. The sky is the limit!

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