What Are the Different Kinds of Art Forms – Part 1

What do you classify as art? And what are the different types of art forms? Art is loosely gathered together and named Contemporary Art. But surely that only defines it as art of today?

Traditional art as we know it is painting, sculpture and drawing but more recently other mediums such as craft, photography, and dance have been added. Today there are digital formats and time-based media that can be used to create work utilizing sound and imagery.

The definition of art in a dictionary is: The expression of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

In this blog we try to narrow down the different kind of art forms there are today, and to justify why they can be called art.


Painting has been in existence since the first drawings by cavemen on the walls of their homes. To be technical a painting is a two-dimensional piece of art which is made up by placing pigments onto a surface.

The surface is rather immaterial but traditionally wood, cloth, stone and canvas have been used. As the surfaces differ so does the pigment used, the most popular being oil, pastel, crayon, acrylic, watercolor.


A print is another two-dimensional art form, made from an impression of an original drawing that is transferred to another surface. Most prints come in multiples and they then form editions, it is common to keep the exclusivity of a print that only limited editions are made. The earliest examples of printing are what were called Woodcut  which were made in China and other parts of the Far East.


Drawings are probably the earliest form of art, and date back to prehistoric times. Before the Chinese invented paper, drawings were made on parchment and actual silver was used in some cases. Today drawings are still popular with artists as a preparation before actual painting takes place, they are an artist’s observations of his subject.


A relatively new form of art, a photograph is an image created when light is exposed on some sort of light-sensitive material to produce a positive or negative image. There are many different types of processes that make up photography and the prints that come from them including, cibachrome, C-type, digital, photoetching, photolithograph, silver gelatin and photoetching.


Craft can be defined as a trade or occupation that involves skilled artistry and manual dexterity. The biggest movement in craft as art was the Arts and Crafts movement which started in the late 19th century. The term applied arts is often used to describe crafts that are looked at as works of arts. Decorative arts have roughly the same meaning but they do not include any design aspect to the work.

Sometimes collectors begin their careers by buying decorative arts as it is a much cheaper way to enter into the art world. Normally craftsmen are not famous or prolific and in real terms do not make vast amount of art.

In part two of our blog looking at the different types of art forms we look at design, sculpture, new media and installation.