Defining & categorising art disciplines

Updated: Aug 3, 2018

How have art disciplines in this research been categorised as "visual art" disciplines?

First, let's acknowledge that it is very hard to define creative art disciplines, let alone categorise them! Art is a complex practice that is difficult to ‘pin down’ into categories. For example, design can be illustrative or encompass elements of sound or other interactivity, and dance could be described as both visual and auditory—there really are so many crossovers. Another element of complexity is added when we consider how many art students and practitioners work across various types of art, too. It has taken a while to decide what art disciplines I would like to research for this particular project. To help me decide, I applied the following definition of visual arts:

Arts which appeal primarily to the visual sense; they are art forms that focus on the creation of works, which are primarily visual in nature, or are multidimensional objects (UNESCO, 2009).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS, 2014) describe visual arts similarly, listing a range of disciplines including painting, digital work, pottery and printed or textile arts. However, they do not include design in their definition. For the purpose of this research, I decided to include design and other art disciplines that range across the traditional, new media, fine and commercial arts. I think this will help me find a more diverse richness of data—I guess we will find out!

If you are interested, some of the reasons why I have chosen visual art disciplines have been listed in this blog post.

For further reading, see:

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2014). 4172.0 - Arts and Culture in Australia: A Statistical Overview. Retrieved from

UNESCO. (2009). Famework for Cultural Statistics. Retrieved from