What is Visual Arts

Are you trying to find information about what is visual arts? If yes, then you’re at the right place. Visual arts are much more than just paintings and sculptures, though these are the most visible forms. There is something about visual arts that a non-art person can relate to. Visual arts are important because they make us feel, see things from different perspectives, get inspired, and so forth. There is no doubt that there is a lot of demand for visual arts. From paintings photography to sculptures, art is everywhere, and the market for arts and collectibles is growing. Visual arts is a wide and expansive area.

Whether you’re a dedicated artist who has tried every medium or an art enthusiast who just enjoys the occasional museum visit, there’s something magical about art that appeals to everyone. Let’s delve into the world of visual arts to learn all about it in detail in this article.

What Are The Arts?

It is interesting to learn about the arts history as a term. There were seven art categories in the middle ages, and no one created anything for people to see. The subjects included rhetoric, grammar, dialectic logic, geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy.

These seven arts are also known as the fine arts since they were studied only by fine people, not by manual labor to complicate matters further. Most useful arts people were probably too busy to receive an education because they did useful things.

People began to understand that science and art were two separate things throughout the centuries. Throughout history, fine arts have come to refer to anything designed to delight the senses. With the loss of the sciences, the list included words such as music, dance, opera, and literature, along with what we now call visual arts, such as paintings, sculptures, and architecture. Some found the list of fine arts a bit lengthy. The fine arts broke down into additional categories in the 20th century.

  • Literature
  • Visual Arts (Sculpture, Painting, etc.)
  • Auditory Arts (Radio Drama, Music, etc.)
  • Performance Arts (Dance, Theater, etc.)

What is Visual Arts?

You will find art forms such as paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, ceramics, photography, videos, films, fashion, design, and crafts in the visual arts. Performing arts, conceptual art, and textile arts all include visual art along with other forms of art. Furthermore, the applied arts belong to the visual arts, such as graphic design, industrial design, fashion design, decorative arts, and interior design.

The term “visual arts” refers to fine art and applied arts, crafts, and decorative arts in modern times. However, that was not always the case. For many centuries, the term ‘artist’ referred to those working in the fine arts and not those in the decorative arts, craft, or applied visual arts. However, the Arts and Crafts Movement changed this paradigm at the turn of the 20th century.

The Arts and Crafts Movement emphasized this distinction as much as they valued high and vernacular art forms. A craftsperson could not qualify as an arts practitioner at an art school, as they maintained the distinction between fine and applied arts. In Western art and East Asian art, painting and sculpture have increasingly taken precedence over other arts. For both regions, painting has traditionally relied heavily on the artist’s imagination and is the most detached from manual labor. Scholarly painting is one of the most highly valued styles in Chinese art, at least in theory, and popular among gentleman amateurs. The hierarchy of genres popular in Western culture reflects this attitude as well.

What Types of Art Are Visual Arts?

There are many visual arts media such as drawing, sculpture, painting, architecture, photography, graphic design, and film. Several of these art pieces aim to stimulate our senses through an experience of sight. They often evoke some kind of feeling in us when we look at them.

The decorative arts, or crafts, are a category of visual arts. As a form of art, utilitarian art has a purpose but still has an artistic style and demonstrates skill. This includes decorative arts such as ceramics, textiles,  furniture making, interior design, metalsmithing, jewelry making, and woodworking.

Types of Visual Art – What Are the Three Types?

Visual arts are divided into three types:

  • Fine art
  • Decorative Art
  • Commercial Art

Fine Art


Art that is developed primarily for aesthetic reasons is called fine art. Decorative and commercial arts also serve some practical functions, and the definition of fine art distinguishes and elevates them above those. A work of high art is free of any commercial or practical considerations, such as functionality, and allows for full expression of the artist’s imagination.

While the fine arts range from painting to sculpting to architecture, the fine visual arts can be classified into three categories: painting, sculpture, and architecture. In a broader sense, however, drawing could also be considered to be fine visual art. Whether they were precursors to paintings or three-dimensional art forms or not, the drawings of the masters are considered fine art in their own right.

Western art was sometimes refers as “fine arts” from the Renaissance period onwards. This term distinguished certain art forms from emerging commercial designs and traditional crafts.

Fine art is not a reflection of the quality of the work in question; it is simply a characteristic of it. This definition refers to the discipline rather than to the method. In addition to fine art, other forms of visual art can be of high quality without necessarily qualifying as fine art.

Despite its western roots, “fine arts” appear in other cultures as well, with “high” and “low” arts distinct in many ways. In addition to painting, sculpture, and architecture as “major arts,” the term “minor arts” also refers to decorative or commercial art styles.

Elements of practicality and utility can characterize only architecture. Nevertheless, not every building belongs to the category of fine architecture. The architect’s vision must always get inspirations by beauty and creativity.

In general, fine artists enjoy a higher level of notoriety and status, either during their lifetime or after their death. Fine art tends to be older art, for example, classic art from antiquities. The “Old Masters,” such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, contributed to fine art between the Renaissance and the 1800s.

While many older fine art pieces or classical art will fall into this category, modern and contemporary art can also refers fine art. Impressionism, expressionism, and other modern art forms belong to a new class of fine artists in the 1800s. Artists who belong to these genres include Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Vincent Van Gogh, Umberto Boccioni, and Claude Monet.

Fine artists in the contemporary era have embraced elements or inspiration from other arts in order to expand the definition of fine art. However, their art’s distinct nature, limited edition, and unrestricted creative license ensure that contemporary fine artists remain at the top of their game.

Decorative Art

decorative Glass painting

Due to their dual function of being both functional and beautiful, decorative arts are often overlooked as art forms. The design and manufacture of decorative arts are beautiful and functional, and they both qualify as crafts. Architectural works are usually excluded from the decorative arts because they primarily focus on the interiors of buildings. Everyday items can be included in decorative arts, but they differ from mass-produced versions. An object should usually be handmade by a skilled craftsperson or craftswoman in order to qualify as decorative art.

Metalwork, ceramics, enamel work, woodwork, textiles, and glassware are some common mediums of decorative art. For instance, in each of these categories, you can find textile designs, basketry, wall tapestries, interior fabrics, and embroidery under the category of textile.

Around the world, some cultures practice decorative arts. William Morris, Peter Carl Fabergé (the creator of the notorious Fabergé eggs), and jewelry designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh are among the most renowned decorative artists. Painting and sculpture are commonly appear to the general public, but decorative artists tend to be unknown. However, their work plays a similar role in telling the story of cultures past and present.

Commercial Art


In the same way that decorative arts are useful and beautiful, commercial art is too. Art created for commercial purposes, including advertising, is called commercial art. In commercial art, services, products, and ideas aim to increase sales and interest. Businesses and brands commission commercial art to convey a specific message to a particular target audience.

Printmaking, graphic design, animation, fashion, industrial design, visual effects, and video are all forms of the commercial arts. Media such as magazines, apps, websites, television, product packaging, and store displays serve as mediums for commercial art.

We see this type of art everywhere. Every day, we see commercial artists creating visuals like logos, billboards, TV ads, etc. The art form is a mass-produced one with a wide audience appeal.

Many people associate commercial art with new media, but it has actually existed for centuries to promote products. Besides being used by businesses and brands, this art form serves as a form of communication for government agencies and the military as well. Commercial artists created posters for military recruitment campaigns, political campaigns, and even public works projects. London’s Tube logo, Coca-Cola’s early advertisements, and Andy Warhol’s posters for Campbell’s soup are the most iconic commercial art.

A few artists have made a transition from commercial to fine art after beginning a career in commercial art. These artists often blur the distinction between the high and low arts, challenging notions of exclusivity associated with the fine arts. Before becoming the renowned artist he is today, Andy Warhol created art for brands such as Brillo and Campbell’s Soup.

Forms of Visual Arts

A visual arts form consists of art pieces that can be seen, such as drawings, paintings, sculptures, prints, photography, and films. Working with textiles and designing them is also considered visual art. Throughout history, visual arts have undergone many changes. Artists created paintings, sculptures, and prints during the Middle Ages, and they became famous. Now, the term refers to many forms of art.


artist drawing on paper

In most cases, drawings require pencils, crayons, pens, markers, or other tools.  These tools work on different surfaces, including canvas and paper. Cave drawings, dating back 30,000 years, were the first drawings that found.

Egyptians used papyrus to make drawings, Greeks and Romans used vases to make drawings. By the Middle Ages, drawing was a process of making sketches on parchment. Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and others perfected drawing during the Renaissance when paper became common.


artist painting on site

Art is often described as most important when it comes to painting. Putting colors on a wall or canvas is what it is all about. Using a variety of color combinations and brush strokes, painters bring to life their ideas. The earliest paintings were painted on the walls of prehistoric caves, where people painted hunting scenes. Egyptian tombs have paintings depicting everyday life in ancient Egypt.

Painting emerged as a very important art form in the Renaissance. This was particularly apparent in Italy. Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Titian were all masters during this time. Influence from Italy reached parts of northern Europe, including Belgium and Holland. Rembrandt and Vermeer were the two most popular painters of the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century.

Painters discovered new styles over the past 200 years. A historical overview of Impressionism and Cubism is available here. Impressionism began in France at the end of the 19th century.


block printing

Printmaking is the process of covering a plate in ink and pressing it against another object to make an image. However, originally prints were pressed onto cloth or other objects. Nowadays, they mostly appear on paper. Wood and metal are common materials for plates. Ancient Mesopotamia produced the first prints. The Chinese and Egyptians adopted them later. Around the end of the Middle Ages, they have introduced prints to Europe.


how to photograph artwork

The process of making pictures by using a camera involves letting light pass through the lens onto a film is known as photography. Chemical development was required for analog photography after capturing the photograph. Once developed, you can print a photo on paper. Modern photography is almost entirely digital. Unlike film photography, digital photography uses silicon chip technology to capture images. 


shooting movie

Motion pictures turn into films by filmmakers. In order for a film to be shown to an audience, numerous tasks, such as scriptwriting, casting, and editing must be performed. It often takes months or years to produce an entire feature film.

Computer art

best laptop for drawing

Painting, drawing, and other forms of art are no longer the only means of expressing ourselves.  Artists have used computers to capture and modify images for the past few decades. Creating video games character is one form of computer art, but computer art consists of a wide variety of other forms as well.


White color hand sculpture

A sculpture is a three-dimensional work of art created by molding various types of materials. Steel, stone, wood, plastic, and ceramics are among the most popular materials. Plastic arts are often associated with sculpture. Greek sculpture dates back thousands of years. Throughout history, it has played an important role in a variety of religions. Michelangelo was considered one of the great artists of the Renaissance. David, a marble statue showing a naked man, is his most famous work.

Final Words

Visual arts simply refer to art and encompasses different types of art work, including painting, photography, sketching, sculpture, etc. It is quite a broad term, but it is used to classify all kinds of artistic works or any creative visual appeal that surrounds us or makes sense to our minds. Generally, visual art is used with the intention to communicate some meaning or message through creativity. We hope that this article provided you with a deeper understanding of what is visual arts.

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