Expression: Expressive vs Communicative

Everyone’s expressed themselves before. Whether it’s been through creating an art project, making a video, or even writing a blog post.

But knowing the two types of expression can be very beneficial for someone attempting to use their work to influence others, or to just formulate a way for them to express themselves to their fullest potential.

I only recently found out about the two different types, and understanding both of them is crucial for reflecting on the purpose of what you are creating.


Expressive Expression

This form of expression can be identified as doing things in a creative manor for the sake of being creative.

Expressive behavior would be creating something alone or in a group with the attempt to express an idea, emotion, or some other third thing that you want to get across in a creative format.

I like to think of this form of expression as conveying through creation.

An individual making an expressive piece is doing it purely for the sake of defining themselves and their work to make or create something appealing or engaging.

A sculpture or a painting would be expressive expression because it’s reasoning for creation is centered behind wanting to capture a feeling inside of it.

Using expressive expression not only helps with outward interpretation or experimental style, but is a healthy method for getting yourself involved in what you are thinking and feeling.

It’s counterpart, communicative expression, can still be linked to creating a captivating emotion, but deals with different purpose.


Communicative Expression

The main differing factor of communicative expression vs expressive expression is it’s premise changes to not only having an idea created, but focuses more on getting the idea across to others.

Communicative is the working way of getting a message out to the world for others to interpret and help develop the meaning for why something might be.

While expressive is conveying through creation, communicative is conveying for the sake of conveying. Something might be created with the intent of expressing oneself, but the basis behind it’s formation is helping to bridge a thought to others.

Sharing in ways such as publishing a YouTube video or a blog post on Medium would fall under this category because oftentimes the created piece is backed by information leading it to have a more lenient purpose of getting other people to think about it.

You might be saying, “Well a piece of art can be still be communicating something” and to that, you’re right. However, it’s expressed in such a way that it’s ideas may be hidden or hard to obtain. A communicative expression is outward and straight forward, differentiating the two to be mainly focused on reasoning.


Which One Is Better?

While I’ve already stated in the article, both have different purpose, one isn’t purely better than the other.

One form of expression may be more comforting to you, and referring to that, there stands the reasoning for why they are separate.

Although they can be easily mixed, I stand to favor communicative because for me, when it comes to analyzing something, I much prefer the straight forward details. I may look at a painting, and while although it’s aesthetically appealing, I may need help understanding the message, assuming there is one.

How they are different can be beneficial to know because generally, the categories have different reasoning for creation and understanding. A piece of expressive expression works for you to outward express and benefits the creators creative side, while the communicative expression can mostly be attributed to helping the benefit of others.

I don’t write my blog because I like putting hypothetical trees hidden in the wording and like making my phrasing hard to understand. I do it because I get satisfaction from sharing information and relating my thoughts for others to interpret.


Can I Use Both?

Of course you can, and although they differ, they compliment each other quite nicely.

A documentary showing the beauty of nature with a monotone but captivating voice over is communicating information while being a alluring piece of expressive imagery.

A political cartoon trying to spread the message of a bad politician has a creative and identifiable art style while bringing forth a message for others to depict.

Although my blog may seem more of a communicative expression (because for the most part it is), it still works as an expressive expression because it gives me somewhere to dump my thoughts out and express myself to my fullest creative potential. And because I can’t draw for the life of me.

Using one or the other may be preferred by most people who consider themselves more in touch with their creative side or analytical side, and both are often right in front of us everywhere on the internet.

When it comes down to it, the separation between the two is reasoning and purpose behind it’s creation, but if wanted, mixing the two types can be even more rewarding.

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