Graphic designers create visual concepts, by hand or by using computer software, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They help develop brands by selecting color, images, or logo designs that represent a particular idea or identity to be used in advertising and promotions. Many graphic desingers also have knowledge of software used for web design and other visual communications skills.
- Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
- Advise clients on strategies to reach a particular audience
- Determine the message the design should convey
- Create images that identify a product or message
- Develop graphics and visual or audio images for product illustrations, logos, and websites
- Select colors, images, text style, and layout
- Review designs for errors before printing or publishing them
- Combine art and technology to communicate ideas through images and the layout of web screens and printed pages
- Develop the overall layout and production design for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports
Career Path Examples
- Entry-Level Graphic Designer: This candidate would be efficient with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign as well as other graphics software. Good general graphic design skills are needed for this position. Basic digital retouching, basic production skills and comp generation is required. An ideal candidate would perhaps have done a professional internship while in college or perhaps worked in some type of service bureau. This individual would have experience with layout, typography, and have a solid grasp of design trends.
- Mid-Level Graphic Designer: A minimum of 2 years of professional experience is generally expected. The portfolio of a Mid-Level Graphic Designer should consist of brochures, posters, pamphlets, but could also extend so far as to include marketing collateral, logo design, and corporate identity. An ideal candidate should have some basic knowledge of the web. A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design or related field is usually required. Advanced knowledge in the software applications Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and possibly PowerPoint.
- Art Director: The main functions of an art director are conceptualization, artistic judgment, and project management. Art directors should have good management skills in order to coordinate the functions of the rest of the team. The art director would oversee designers, production artists, photographers, illustrators, writers, prepress technicians, printers and any and all other integral parties responsible for particular aspects of a project or campaign. This individual should have experience taking responsibility for low to mid budget projects. Candidate would have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in design or equivalent, 2-4 years of management experience as well as 3-5 years as a Senior Designer or Asst. Art Director. Working knowledge of design software is important.
- Senior Graphic Designer: A Senior Graphic Designer should possess all the requirements for Junior and Mid-Level Graphic Design and should also be experienced in client relations. Understands projects on a tactical level with basic supervision and project coordination skills and is efficient at handling multiple projects at the same time. Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design or related field is required. The portfolios should consist of brochures, annual reports, glossy magazine or book design, complex packaging design, die cuts, varnishes and has also worked on major design campaigns. Expert knowledge in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign as well as moderate knowledge of PowerPoint is necessary.
- Production Manager: The production manager is responsible for managing the process (bids, scheduling, production and delivery) of producing publications from concept through production, including photography, separations, 4-color press work as well as digital production. Production Managers are strong project managers, managing jobs simultaneously. In some cases, a proficiency in InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop is desirable in this role.
- Project Manager: Oversees projects in the creative department by organizing workflow, routing through in-house process and out to vendors as needed. Project management generally oversees particular project(s), working as a liaison between client and creative department. Written and verbal communication skills are necessary as well as management and supervisory skills. Must be detail oriented but able to see the big picture. They are also responsible for setting production schedules and project budgets.
- Creative Director: At this level, all the qualifications for Art Director and Senior Art Director would apply. In addition, the Creative Director would be the leading conceptual initiator for the “big picture.” Strategically oriented, this individual would relate design work to the client’s overall business plans and goals. Top-notch communication skills are mandatory for this position to be able to effectively and gracefully present solutions catered to client’s needs. Can interact with other creative directors, marketing executives, account managers and other team members. Candidate must demonstrate conceptual, technical, and creative diversity being efficient at “thinking outside the box.” Software proficiency is not important.
Graphic designers generally work in studios where they have access to drafting tables, computers, and the software necessary to create their designs. Although many graphic designers work independently, those who work for specialized graphic design firms often work as part of a design team. Some designers telecommute. Many graphic designers collaborate with colleagues on projects or work with clients located around the world. Most graphic designers work full time, but schedules can vary depending on workload and deadlines.