Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers.
What they do
Graphic designers develop the overall layout and production design for applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and reports.
Graphic designers typically do the following:
- Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
- Use digital illustration, photo editing software, and layout software to create designs
- Create visual elements such as logos, original images, and illustrations to help deliver a message
- Design layouts, including selection of colors, images, and typefaces
- Present design concepts to clients or art directors
- Incorporate changes recommended by clients or art directors into final designs
- Review designs for errors before printing or publishing them
Graphic designers, also referred to as graphic artists or communication designers, combine art and technology to communicate ideas through images and the layout of websites and printed pages. They may use a variety of design elements to achieve artistic or decorative effects.
Graphic designers work with both text and images. They often select the type, font, size, color, and line length of headlines, headings, and text. Graphic designers also decide how images and text will go together in print or on a webpage, including how much space each will have. When using text in layouts, graphic designers collaborate with writers, who choose the words and decide whether the words will be put into paragraphs, lists, or tables. Through the use of images, text, and color, graphic designers may transform data into visual graphics and diagrams to make complex ideas more accessible.
Graphic design is important to market and sell products, and it is a critical component of brochures and logos. Therefore, graphic designers often work closely with people in advertising and promotions, public relations, and marketing.
Frequently, designers specialize in a particular category or type of client. For example, some designers create the graphics used on product packaging, and others may work on the visual designs used on book jackets.
Graphic designers need to keep up to date with software and computer technologies in order to remain competitive.
Some individuals with a background in graphic design become postsecondary teachers and teach in design schools, colleges, and universities.
Some graphic designers specialize in experiential graphic design. These designers work with architects, industrial designers, landscape architects, and interior designers to create interactive design environments, such as museum exhibitions, public arts exhibits, and retail spaces.
Graphic designers generally work in studios, where they have access to equipment such as drafting tables, computers, and software. Although many graphic designers work independently, those who work for specialized graphic design firms are often part of a design team. Many graphic designers collaborate with colleagues or work with clients on projects.
How to become a Graphic Designer
Graphic designers usually need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. Candidates for graphic design positions should have a portfolio that demonstrates their creativity and originality.
A bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field is usually required. However, people who have a bachelor’s degree in another field may complete technical training in graphic design to meet most hiring qualifications.
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits more than 360 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. Most programs include courses in studio art, principles of design, computerized design, commercial graphics production, printing techniques, and website design. In addition, students should consider courses in writing, marketing, and business, all of which are useful in helping designers work effectively on project teams.
High school students interested in graphic design should take basic art and design courses, if available. Many bachelor’s degree programs require students to complete a year of basic art and design courses before being admitted to a formal degree program. Some schools require applicants to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.
Many programs provide students with the opportunity to build a portfolio—a collection of completed works that demonstrates an artist’s styles and abilities. For many artists, including graphic designers, developing a portfolio is essential because employers rely on portfolios in making hiring decisions.
Graphic designers must keep up with new and updated computer graphics and design software, either on their own or through formal software training programs. Professional associations that specialize in graphic design, such as AIGA, offer courses intended to keep the skills of their members up to date.
The median annual wage for graphic designers was $52,110 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,810, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $89,210.
Employment of graphic designers is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029.
While overall employment in this occupation is expected to go down, specific projections vary by industry. For example, employment of graphic designers in newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers is projected to decline significantly. In contrast, employment of graphic designers in computer systems design and related services is projected to grow. Companies are continuing to increase their digital presence, which sometimes requires graphic designers to help create visually appealing and effective layouts of websites.
Similar Job Titles
Artist, Creative Director, Creative Manager, Design Director, Designer, Graphic Artist, Graphic Designer, Online Producer, Production Artist, Publications Designer
Advertising and Promotions Manager, Art Director, Multimedia Artis and Animator, Interior Designer, Film and Video Editor
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- AIGA, the professional association for design - This organization seeks to advance design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force.
- The Society for Experiential Graphic Design - This is a non-profit professional association. We are the global, multidisciplinary community of professionals who plan, design, and build experiences that connect people to place.
- Graphic Artists Guild - This organization is committed to welcoming, serving and improving conditions for graphic artists at all skill levels while raising standards for the entire industry. In addition to creative professionals, our members include educators, intellectual property lawyers, artist representatives, and others in related and supporting industries.
- University and College Designers Association - UCDA is committed to welcoming, serving and improving conditions for graphic artists at all skill levels while raising standards for the entire industry. In addition to creative professionals, our members include educators, intellectual property lawyers, artist representatives, and others in related and supporting industries.
Magazines and Publications
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Graphic designers create visual concepts to inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for advertisements, websites, magazines, and other print and online material. These designers use both text and images to communicate ideas. They design the lettering and color of text as well as arranging images and copy on a print or webpage. When using copy in layouts, graphic designers collaborate closely with writers. Many use their creativity to transform statistical data into visuals to make complex ideas more accessible. Graphic designers generally work in studios with drafting tables, computers, and design software. Although many graphic designers work independently, those who work for specialized graphic design firms often work on teams. Work schedules typically revolve around deadlines whether to deliver a finished product to clients, printing companies, or to publish on the Internet. Self-employed designers tailor their workday around meetings with clients, including evenings and weekends. They often spend time looking for new projects and must compete with other designers for contracts. At firms, graphic designers are likely to work more standard hours. Most positions require a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. A professional portfolio of their work is a must for graphic designers to show potential employers their skill, creativity, and originality.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOne Stop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org