Fine art. Commercial art. What’s the difference? It is important for anyone who wants to purchase art to know the difference. The table below shows the major differences between them.


Wikipedia: In European academic traditions, fine art is art developed primarily for aesthetics or beauty, distinguishing it from applied art that also has to serve some practical function, such as pottery or most metalwork.

Oxford Dictionaries: Creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.

Cambridge Dictionary: A type of art that is admired for its beauty, for example, painting, sculpture, music, and dance

Collins Dictionary: Painting and sculpture, in which objects are produced that are beautiful rather than useful, can be referred to as fine art or as the fine arts.

Merriam-Webster: Art such as painting, sculpture, or music concerned primarily with the creation of beautiful objects and an activity requiring a fine skill.

Note: There are many characteristics that qualify a painting as Fine Art. And one of the most important criteria is paintings that have been painted in oil. The Blog has a full article about oil painting HERE.


Wikipedia: The art of creative services, referring to art created for commercial purposes, primarily advertising. Commercial art traditionally includes designing books, advertisements of different products, signs, posters, and other displays to promote sale or acceptance of products, services, or ideas.

Oxford Dictionaries: Art used in advertising and selling

Cambridge Dictionary: Art used in advertising, to decorate packaging, on magazine covers, etc.

Collins Dictionary: Graphic art for commercial uses such as advertising, packaging, etc.

Merriam-Webster: Art applied to commercial purposes


Origin: from the artist for the artist

Quantity created: One original (1) multiples such as Limited Edition etchings, lithographs, and serigraphs are considered Fine Art

Purpose: Created as aesthetic objects, to be appreciated for their fine and unique qualities, for enjoyment to others, to inspire, communicate an internal feeling or idea.

Requires: inborn talent

Items: One-of-a-kind unique objects such as paintings, sculptures, works on paper usually exhibited in galleries and museums. Fine art includes paintings, sculptures, printmaking, photography, installation, multi-media, sound art, and performance.

Items to be viewed: subjectively

Value in time: increases


Origin: from a client, work for hire

Quantity created: many, mass produced

Purpose: Specifically created to make money or sell products

Requires: learned skills

Items: Television and print advertisements, Images, Graphic Design, Logos, Book Illustration, Branding, Fashion design

Items to be viewed: objectively

Value in time: decreases