What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

One of the biggest methods of communication in society is visually, through images. The eyes take in so much information, and the people behind the creation of this visual information play an important role in our society.

What does a graphic designer do?

Think: on the side of a bus, those huge billboards in Times Square, your Instagram feed. The person behind many of those advertisements is likely a graphic designer.

As an art form or a craft that has to be honed, one must work hard at graphic design and learn about methods. 

From typography, interactive designs, visual hierarchy and user needs or experience, it has to be studied. Your Word Art skills won’t cut it.

Today we’ll be looking at  the multitude of ways to be a designer, potential career paths, necessary skills and other tips and tricks for getting started.

What are the 8 types of graphic design?

Packaging

Vital for the distribution of fragile or easily broken goods, like food, drinks and electronics, the majority of products we buy require packaging. Primarily for protection, yes, but also to catch the eye of consumers.

Brainstorming ideas and curating them into realized visual concepts by developing a mock product, then bringing them to life in manufacturing, a packaging graphic designer works to establish relationships with customers and facilitate a brand’s image.

User Interface

Often referred to as UI, user interface graphic designers create the visual content for devices and applications with ‘interfaces’ for a consumer to interact with. Their main concern is ensuring every user has a simple, enjoyable and friendly experience.

Work includes pitching and producing designs for important interactive tools like buttons, logos, menus, toolbars or checkboxes.

They tend to focus on projects like applications for smart devices – social media, games, even banking – or those accessed via the web and desktop.

Publication

Historically, publication graphic design was all about print texts – magazines, papers, book jackets and other circulations. These days, digital publishing is especially popular, so a lot of designers in this industry publish their work online.

Working as part of a team, they consult with publishers themselves and their respective editors, contributing artwork, illustrations, smaller graphics or typography. This must be suited to their in-house style, so every single brief is different!

woman designing at a computer - what does a graphic designer do

Art and Illustration

Graphic art and graphic illustration might sound the same as graphic design more generally, but they’re actually quite distinctive.

Where designers work to communicate a specific message or promotion to a brief, graphic illustrators actually make their own, original art.

Taking inspiration from wherever it comes, their work is used on all sorts of mediums, from comic books and video games, album art and stock images to t-shirts and other clothing – even picture books and illustrations for more technical work.

Motion

Motion (aka movement) graphic designers focus on visual communications that move, creating work for media, TV and film; as a newer, more recently established field, it has only become a specialty conducted online in recent years, in line with improvements to technology.

Struggling to picture what exactly this entails? Here are a few examples to help you: video games, websites, apps, advertisements, credits or opening sequences for movies and TV, GIFs or other digital banners… the possibilities are endless!

Marketing and Advertising

In order to promote their product or service, businesses rely on the work of marketing and advertising graphic designers to successfully capture the needs, wants and desires of their target audience.

Rather than submit freelance work, these designers are informed by everyone from the business owner themselves, other managers or marketing professionals, even the company’s team of creative staff. It’s very much a collaborative process!

Visual Identity

IKEA branding
Photo by billow926 on Unsplash

Think about IKEA. Bright blue and yellow, that same wide chunky font on all their adverts and stores, the funky Swedish names for every product?

That’s IKEA’s visual identity, and graphic designers in this field are responsible for helping a brand’s stakeholders or owners curate their own. Branding and the strategy behind it are crucial for a company’s direction and public identity.

Not only will they help design all of the fonts, logos, colors and images used for advertisement purposes, but they might also develop a specific style guide for that brand, in order to help create future promotions and adverts in a consistent way.

Environmental

We’re not talking about giving a forest a makeover here. An environmental graphic designer helps to develop signage and other visual stimuli that help a consumer navigate or understand a space.

Think about a museum exhibit, for instance: all of those signs, the helpful arrows pointing you around, fun interactive games – everything here was created by a graphic designer. Same goes for a store, an office, on public transport – everywhere!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is graphic design a dying career?

Absolutely not – it’s in fact quite the opposite! The further we as a society advance in technology, the more opportunities for new and exciting creative endeavors present themselves. There are eight different sectors to choose between, after all!

There’s always an opportunity to communicate with graphic design, and there will always be brands, companies and businesses who need a graphic designer in one of the above eight areas to work with them!

Is graphic design hard?

That depends! It certainly takes a certain amount of natural talent to be able to represent ideas, thoughts and concepts through the medium of art. As well as that, you have to be able to use a variety of mediums, from print, to pencil, to Photoshop.

it’s very much a Jack of all trades kind of job. Learning everything you need to know to be successful is difficult, certainly, but not impossible by any means! With hard work, motivation and dedication, you’ll be well on your way to breaking through the industry.

Is graphic design in demand?

Absolutely! A study conducted in 2020 by IBISWorld illustrates that in 2019 alone, a single year, the graphic design industry brought in more than fifteen billion dollars in revenue, and this annual figure is expected to grow even more!

The average industry growth between 2015 and 2020 was a sizeable 3.1%, evidencing a continued development alongside further advances in both graphic design software and communications in general. That says demand to us!

About Chris Craft

Hi! I'm Chris(topher) Craft. I'm a believer, husband of an amazing woman (Wanda), and father of three talented kids (Naomi, Maria, and Elijah). I love writing, making music, learning about God's Hand in History, entrepreneurship, and basketball. Thank you for reading my stuff! ❤️ Connect with me on Twitter @CraftWrites.