Which Type of Art Should I Study?

Are you wondering why you’re pursuing a degree in Art? There are many paths to study Art, and in this article, I’ll define the different types of art you can pursue.


So, you’re interested in studying Art, which encompasses a huge variety of media, material, and theory you could potentially work with. With that amount of choice, how do you distill your interests and what’s a good fit for you? 

Art is often thought of in terms of functionality and aestheticism–can it function within everyday life? Is it meant to inspire beauty? Art can be a muddled definition; it’s hard to actually define it! To define the different types of art, I’ll include: studio, applied, commercial, and history. 

Keep in mind though that people who study and make art are constantly re-defining the categories of art based on their relationship and investigation of diverse cultures.

Studio Art

The studio is where concepts like form, technique, and theme are generated and workshopped–this is where you are infusing your unique thematic ideas into your work. When people think about fine art, which is art usually made to be shown and/or critically studied, they’re referring to a college’s studio art department, which encompasses more traditional media like sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, video, performance, installation, and printmaking.  The studio is where you’ll develop your creative voice and hone your technique. Oftentimes, showing the work (in class critiques or semester shows) is a vital part of the program. Because it’s about developing your unique voice, the choice of media isn’t restrictive (you could be coding if you wanted to).

art course, high school

Applied/Commercial Art

Commercial and applied art are pretty similar in that both are primarily designed to be functional. However, it could be said that applied art harps more on use in everyday life, so think of architecture and the decorative arts: furniture, embroidery, jewelry, pottery, and glassware. A more indie form includes book art: zines, illustration, and typography. Applied art can also be about controlling the output of a product or environment. Some artistic disciplines in this category include industrial design and interior design. 


Now with commercial art, it doesn’t exclude functionality, but there is a bit more emphasis on aesthetics targeted for an intended audience, which means design is a big aspect. You could even encounter different types of advertising in this category. Fashion design, graphic design, and digital design are popular types of commercial art.

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History of Art/Art History

If you’re interested in working in museums, auction houses, or arts administration (to name a few),  then art history could be for you! Here, you’ll get to study the background of an art piece. This category is the most interdisciplinary, blending many disciplines (such as psychology, engineering, and technology) to understand how an art piece is influenced by history, diverse definitions of culture, and contemporary society. You’ll spend a lot of time understanding how an object could reflect a certain time period while developing strong research and writing skills.


These categories are just some of the types of art you can study in college. If you’re not sure which type of art you should study, contact us! It can help to have different perspectives that serve as inspiration or greater clarity. 

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