The differences between art and fine art explained with 3 simple examples

The differences between art and fine art explained with 3 simple examples

What is the difference between art and fine art? This is a question that collectors, art enthusiasts, and students alike often ask. However, in the art world, this is an often-contested topic. The word “art” encompasses a wide range of activities, from commercial art to the work of masterpieces such as Michelangelo and Picasso. So, what is the distinction between practical and fine art, and how can you determine the difference?

The main difference between art and fine art

The primary distinction between practical and fine art is one of ultimate aim. Fine art is created only for aesthetic reasons, with the ultimate product being aesthetically pleasing to the observer. Applied art is equally attractive, but it serves an interaction, design, or problem-solving function as part of a larger aim.

While the distinction between applied arts and fine arts seems straightforward, both professions are so broad in scope that many works of applied art eventually cross over into the fine arts category. Furthermore, many works of historical artwork that we now regard to be great art were first created as applied artwork.

Examples of fine art

Fine art does not have to be restricted to paintings. Fine artists may be found in every form of art. The following list is by no means complete, but it demonstrates that high art is much more than just paintings on the wall.


Fine art is defined as any sculptural work that is merely intended to be admired. Some sculpture installations are interactive or put in public locations, yet they are still classified as fine art.


Some pottery is made for usage and does not qualify as fine art. However, many pottery and other forms of ceramic art are designed as decorative items rather than functional ones. These are works of art. Fine art pottery may also comprise surviving antique pieces.


Metalwork is sometimes thought to be useful art, although many metal objects are fashioned as beautiful art. Fine art metalwork, like ceramics, may contain historical items of metalwork that have been preserved.


Murals are primarily meant for public consumption and the decoration of a wall or other space. As a result, they are classified as fine art.

Art made using chalk.

Art installations such as chalk art, sand art, and other kinds of destructible art are also recognized excellent art, despite their brief lifespan. The artist usually chooses a material with a brief lifespan to show the transient character of an idea or notion.


Some images are shot solely to capture the beauty of a place or subject and are then printed as fine art prints. Other photographs are made as compositions. These are examples of fine art photography.

Examples of applied art

Applied art may also be divided into subcategories such as functional art and production art, each of which has its own set of art genres. Applied art is created with a specific purpose in mind. Applied arts address a problem or develop an interactive medium with a function other than aesthetics. This is most often seen in commercial art when the art is intended to be utilized to make a product for sale or consumption.

Applied artists work in a broad range of disciplines all around the globe, and depending on what they create, they may work for businesses or as freelancers. It might be difficult to tell the distinction between industrial art and fine art at times. Additionally, works of industrial art may become fine art pieces when collectors respect them and begin to invest in items solely for their aesthetic worth.


Every designer, from luxury vehicles to dining room chairs, is a commercial artist, and every product starts with a design. These designs are seldom seen by customers, but they are aesthetic projections of the final product used by designers to envision the final design.


Fashion is also a kind of design; however, the ultimate goal of any design is to beautify and embellish the wearer. Rather of being just practical, fashion design attempts to beautify the user, making each design’s aesthetics even more useful and meaningful.

Graphics designing

Graphic design can be seen everywhere. A graphic designer strives to make the interactive world as functionally attractive as possible, from birthday cards to websites to commercials and periodicals.

Art Direction for Production

This is a broad category of creative art that encompasses all stages of creation for cartoons, movies, books, video games, and internet resources. Storyboarding, costume design, visualization paintings, character design, and set design paintings are all examples of this.

Ceramics and pottery

Sculpting talents are used by many applied artists to make practical and attractive works of art such as bowls, ewers, vases, plates, and so on. These items are designed with aesthetics in mind, yet they are intended to be used on a daily or occasional basis.

Wood Carving and Furniture making

While certain wood carvings may be regarded as fine art, many works in wood have a function other than aesthetics and so fit more into the category of applied arts. Many civilizations produce items such as wood furniture that are known for their beauty as well as their durability.


Book illustrations are among of the most widely accessible aesthetic works, yet they are classified as applied arts since they also serve the aim of conveying a narrative and are mass-produced inside of books.


Beautiful, applied art images, as opposed to fine art photography, are part of a larger production strategy. This might include advertisements, book photographs, or photography as the starting point for various artworks and enterprises. These photographs may sometimes become cultural icons.

Final words

Now you have a basic understanding of the difference between art and fine art. Whether you are an art collector or you are just interested in art, you may keep these in your mind to get the best results.

Pooja Saxena