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What Is The Difference Between Illustration And Fine Art?

Fine art and illustration may seem the same thing, but there are some differences between them. Technology has blurred the lines between fine art and illustration.

Fine art and illustration are broad terms that can encompass many different things. Generally speaking, fine art is highly skilled art such as painting, sculpture, music, theater, or dance. Fine art is usually performed or produced for one purpose. On the other hand, illustration is usually art created for the primary purpose of being reproduced either in print or digitally.

There are some unique differences between both of these artistic fields.

Fine Art Vs. Illustration Explained

Fine art and illustration are not precisely the same thing. Even the dictionary has different meanings for both words.

Fine Art Defined

Fine art is a word used a lot in the artistic world. Someone may say to you that they are a fine artist. Museums may use the word fine art after their names. Someone may even tell you they graduated in fine arts.

The Oxford dictionary define has two definitions of fine art, and they are


“creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.

“the convergence of popular culture and fine art”


an activity requiring great skill or accomplishment.

“he’ll have to learn the fine art of persuasion”

Oxford Dictionary

When we look at both of these definitions of fine art as defined by the Oxford dictionary, we can see that fine art encompasses a person’s visual content, imagination, and intellect. Fine art can encompass everything from painting, sculptures, poetry, writing, theater, music, and even animation.

We also learn from this definition that fine art requires skill and great accomplishment. You could be born with talent, but you become a fine art or artist through the development of that talent.

Illustration Defined

Illustration can have several meanings. One meaning could be a picture that illustrates something in a book or a newspaper; for example, you illustrate a graph to show a survey result. It could be a drawing or a work of art.

In art, we usually look at illustrations as a form of art. For example, art made for the front cover of a magazine would be considered an illustration or a movie poster would be regarded as an illustration. Most of the illustration is for print or digital matter.

The Oxford dictionary defines illustration as:

“a picture illustrating a book, newspaper, etc.

“an illustration of a yacht

the action or fact of illustrating something, either pictorially or by exemplification.

“by way of illustration, I refer to the following case“

Oxford Dictionary

As you can see from this definition, illustration is also an extensive term where many kinds of illustration could fall under the name “illustration.”

Fine Art Vs. Illustration Differences Explained

Even though fine art and illustration can seem similar, there are some differences between both terms.

Here are some of the differences between fine art and illustration:

  • Fine art is an original work of art that is made by artist, such as painting, sculpture, music and dance.
  • A fine art requires great skill and artistic accomplishments.
  • There are several types of illustration but artistic illustration is produced for the purpose of it being reproduced either by print or digitally. An example would be an illustration for a movie poster.
  • Drawing that appear in some magazines as children’s magazines or newspapers would be considered illustrations.
  • Fine Art and Illustration are not created for the same purpose. A fine artist may create just one piece to be sold by a gallery or to a collector. The Illustrator will produce a work of art whose main purpose is to be reproduced many times.
  • The term llustration can also be used to talk about other things as charts, graphs or even figures which are used to illustrate a particular point of reference that is written or spoken.
  • Fine Art is a broad term and under the umbrella of Fine Art are a variety of arts. Not all the arts are visual in nature and can include things as creative writing or poetry.

Even though fine art and illustration may seem very similar, they are quite different types of art. It usually will encompass different forms of education and knowledge.

Fine artists usually work in painting, sculpturing, or other traditional arts; today, this line has blurred as many fine artists work only digitally.

Illustrators may work with just a pen, paper, and paints to create an illustration. Today many illustrators work digitally.

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Fine Arts Vs. Craft, Is There A Difference?

Fine art is a broad term that encompasses many art forms, from the visual to the written word. Dance, music, theatre, painting, writing, poetry, and sculpture would all be under the fine art umbrella. Craft is about objects made by hand and usually refers to quilting, knitting, pottery, sewing, and woodworking.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading Fine Arts Vs. Craft, Is There A Difference?.

What Is The Difference Between Fine Arts and Visual Arts?

Fine art is a broad term used to describe many different types of art; one of the arts under the umbrella of fine art is visual arts. Fine arts can include arts such as music, theatre, dance, literature, and other types of art. In contrast, Visual art is about only arts of a visual nature such as painting, sculpture, or film making.

By clicking this link, you can discover more by reading What Is The Difference Between Fine Arts and Visual Arts?.