What is a Graphic Designer?

A graphic designer is someone who specializes in creating and editing visual messages for businesses and other clients, usually with the goal of increasing sales and promoting the company or individual. This is a very collaborative job, and people in this position frequently collaborate with others who can help with the final design, such as copywriters or photographers. They frequently rely on modern technology to complete projects, using computers and other related equipment. Most have at least a bachelor’s degree and are highly creative, well-organized, and excellent communicators.

Major Responsibilities

A graphic designer’s primary responsibility is to create a visual representation of an idea or set of concepts. To do so, they first meet with clients to determine the project’s details and the message the clients want to convey. Then they make some rough sketches hand or use computer programs to create an initial image. This process includes adjusting major elements like font size and overall layout. They work with their clients to fine-tune the design over time.

Secondary Responsibilities

A graphic designer’s drawings or computer-generated images must frequently be presented formally to clients, which may require speaking in front of entire committees. They may also serve as advisors to their clients, providing market data that will assist them in reaching out to customers more effectively. Many of these professionals proofread their own work extensively, and some in higher positions serve as editors for those they supervise.

Their Work Environment

Print design (for magazines or newspapers), website design, advertising, product development, logo design, and even sign-making are all fields where graphic designers can find work. They usually work in well-lit, clean offices with plenty of tables and space to accommodate their projects, but some are able to work remotely, in some cases with companies or clients in other countries. Given the widespread use of the Internet, it’s becoming more common for these workers to do so.

Freelance vs. In-House

These professionals are classified as either in-house or freelance. An in-house graphic designer is an artist who is formally designated as an employee and works for and is paid a specific company on a long-term basis. The advantage here is usually stable employment and more predictable income, with some businesses providing benefits such as health insurance. Freelancers work as independent contractors, which means they can set their own contracts and rates. However, they must cover more expenses on their own and, aside from occasional bonuses, they don’t usually get many perks. About a third of all professional designers belong to the second group.

Requirements for Education and Experience

Graphic design is a highly competitive field, and many people who want to work in it attend college to receive formal, hands-on training and to network. For entry-level positions, a bachelor’s degree is usually required, but it can be in a subject that is very closely related, such as art or website design. Some employers, however, consider several years of experience to be an acceptable substitute for a degree. It is common for someone to advance to a higher level, such as artistic supervisor or lead designer, after at least one to three years of work. With advancement, specialization is very common.

The Portfolio of Work

A portfolio is a collection of samples of work produced in classes or for clients. These examples demonstrate to potential employers that a graphic designer is creative, competent, capable of meeting the client’s needs, and can communicate with a variety of consumer groups. As a result, obtaining work requires a strong portfolio. It’s especially important if someone doesn’t have a degree, because employers must rely on samples to determine whether or not a job applicant is qualified and experienced enough.

Required Qualifications

Graphic designers must be well-organized and have an excellent eye for detail. Because much of the industry relies on computer-aided design (CAD) systems, they should be comfortable working with computers. Ability to communicate effectively in writing or through speech is also critical, and these individuals should be able to convert even the most complex message into a clear, visual design. Being a team player is related to this — graphic designers frequently collaborate with marketers, copyeditors, and production specialists, to name a few. Most employers and clients are looking for people who can think outside the box and come up with completely new ideas, because standing out from the competition leads to increased memorability and sales.

Because markets are constantly changing, these professionals must be willing to adjust and change as well, adapting to current demand while also attempting to develop their own artistic style and signature. Some people conduct extensive market research to better understand trends, so good research and analytical skills can be extremely beneficial. Because of the job’s reliance on technology, employees must be able to quickly adapt to new hardware and software systems.

Technology Involved

In the graphic design industry, programs like Adobe®, Photoshop®, and QuarkXPress® are fairly common. Designers combine these or other applications with specially designed robots or machines to create special effects in some cases. Many people still use charcoal pencils or paints to create original designs, but these are usually converted into digital images using scanning software and hardware. The quality and styles of work are becoming increasingly sophisticated as technology advances.

Communications equipment is another important area. People can talk about or deliver project documents in real time over long distances using simple chat and email platforms, for example. These are crucial for freelancers who are frequently required to work on projects outside of their immediate area.

Fine Art vs. Graphic Design

Despite the fact that many fine artists work in graphic design, the industry differs significantly from traditional art in terms of its commercial aspect and the frequent need to change work at the client’s request. Many fine artists, including Andy Warhol, Piet Mondrian, and the Russian Constructivist artists of the 1920s, have contributed to the evolution of this field. Many museums and art institutes are holding exhibits dedicated to this type of work because some of the images created have become so well-known that they have become iconic and have artistic value for what they represent.