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Functional Art

January 16, 2020

I have a confession to make. I know next to nothing about fine art. Seriously. The lowest grade I ever received in college was Art History 101 in which my teacher proclaimed “it just wasn't for me”. I couldn't agree more. With that said there is one thing that I enjoyed no matter the artist or style. The museum gift shop. Gift shops are full of fun and usually overpriced gifts that teeter between gimmicky and obnoxious. Online one of my favorites is the MoMA Design Store. Looking through the website you find all sorts of oddities ranging from $20 to $20,000. Recently I stumbled across the Today Clock by artist Scott Thrift. The clock is what I would consider functional art. The hand takes 24 hours to go all the way around and points to the gradient that loosely represents the time of day.

Occupying that tenuous space between fine art and the everyday, functional art refers to aesthetic objects that serve utilitarian purposes.


today clock

Making My Own Gradient Clock (Digitally)

While the Today Clock is a cool idea I felt the price was a little steep at $200 and I already struggle with quickly reading the time on a traditional analog clock. So purely as a design exercise I decided to create my own gradient clock. Since my version is digital I added options to toggle the clock hands or show the time using digits. For the background rather than a static gradient I shift my gradient to achieve a similar effect of representing the time of day.

gradient clock

The working example can be found here:

In some ways I hope this personal website strikes a similar tone to a gift shop. Full of fun little things to look at and then move on ... just without a hefty price tag. 😉 Have you made anything recently that you would consider functional art? If so let me know on Twitter.

Discuss Functional Art on Twitter


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