While, graphic design and fine art often go hand in hand they are very different.
Fine art is "art that is created for its own aesthetic purpose rather than for a practical, utility purpose. "Art for art's sake" (www.worldimages.com/art_glossary.php) For example; Leonardo Da Vinci's painting of the Mona Lisa. While it is argued to be one of the most famous paintings in the world it was created with no specific purpose other than to express this woman through the artistic abilities of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Where as Graphic Design is "the applied art of arranging image and text to communicate a message. It may be applied in any media, such as print, digital media, motion pictures, animation, product decoration, packaging, and signs. It is a practice that can be traced back to the origin of the written word, but only in the late 19th century did it become identified as a separate entity." (www.bluemoonwebdesign.com/art-glossary-2.asp) Take for example this poster advertising for a hair salon. It is not as widely known or argued as the Mona Lisa is but unlike the Mona Lisa it was created with a purpose. That purpose was to introduce to consumers the Ascent - Hair and Beauty salon and to establish a clientele for this budding company.
Although, graphic design and fine art are very different graphic design often utilizes fine art for inspiration and expression. In the field of graphic design many businesses will come to the designer to have a logo or sign created for their company and they will use an art piece or a time period to express their idea or the feeling they want to express with their sign. In order for a graphic design artist to adequately assist the client they will have to be familiar with art from the time period that the client has expressed interest. Through occurrences like this and many more the differences between graphic design and fine art are able to work hand in hand.