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What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

Since the technological boom of the 1990s, there have been countless new jobs and opportunities for work created. With a new communications tool such as the internet, creating and maintaining web content has become one of the most crucial jobs. 

For any business model, one of the most critical steps is marketing. Finding a way to connect with a potential audience of consumers in a quick, effective, and cost efficient manner can often be the difference between a successful business and a failed one. This is where the concept of graphic design enters the equation. 

Utilizing the skills of an accomplished graphic designer can be extremely beneficial to any individual or company selling a product or service. Before diving into the details of a graphic designer and their responsibilities, we must define the general field of graphic design itself. 

What Is Graphic Design?

The process of communicating with another individual or collection of individuals can be quite a challenge when considering the potential language barrier. Words can be lost in translation or even have no possible equivalent from one language to the other. What is not lost in translation is visual communication. 

Graphic design is the process of communicating visually while problem-solving and troubleshooting by using photography, iconography, typography, and illustrations. There are virtually no limits to the potential of a creative graphic designer. Some general examples of how graphic design can be used include:

  • Visual Identity. One of the critical steps to creating a successful business is to build the brand.  To build a brand is to develop a relationship between the business and its consumers or potential consumers. The brand is essentially how the organization communicates its personality, experiences, and goals. 

Visual identity is the concept of conveying and expressing these intangibles by using any variety or combination of shapes, colors, and images. The most common example of visual identity would be the logo of a business, including the details of design, color, and font used. 

  • Marketing Graphic Design. One of the most commonly experienced examples of a graphic designer’s work is advertisements. The key to any company existing and surviving is the ability to sell its product or service. Without consumers knowing any information about a product or service, the likelihood of them purchasing whatever is being sold plummets drastically. 

Getting information out to the buying public is an absolute must and being creative while doing it can potentially make or break a marketing campaign. A few examples of using graphic design in marketing include magazine or newspaper ads, billboards, brochures and flyers, and even automobile wraps. 

  • User Interface Graphic Design. As our understanding of technology improves and changes, new possibilities are created. With the explosion of web-based apps and games, this is yet another potential opportunity for a graphic designer. Having a mobile app associated with a company can go a very long way to helping spread its information and accessibility to the desired market audience. 

Not every company will be able to, or even need to, create a mobile app specifically, but user interface design also covers web page designs as well. Web pages are where a company can go into detail about their product or service, as opposed to only a logo or billboard ad; therefore, this style of graphic design has exploded in popularity in recent years.

  • Publication Design. Publication is a more simple example of graphic design. Any book, newspaper, or magazine that’s ever been printed has been designed before the printing began in order to maximize the information being printed. Another aspect of this style is the needed understanding of color managing and knowledge of the printing process.
  • Packaging. Exactly as its name suggests, this style is about how graphic design is used as a product is packaged. Nearly every tangible product being sold comes in some version of a package for shipping purposes and consumer convenience. Before a customer touches or even sees the product they intend to purchase, they will first touch and see the box that encases it. In many ways, packaging can be the final decision that pushes a purchase forward or possibly ends it.
  • Motion. As video content in the form of viral GIFs has exploded in popularity, so has the need for designers that can create said content. This style of graphic design includes animation, audio, typography, and imagery and can be shared across the internet, television, film, or any visual medium. While motion is one of the newer fields of graphic design, its potential shouldn’t be discounted. As the rise of web content has become more prevalent, so has this style of graphic design.

What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

Now that we understand the various fields and examples of graphic design, we can look into what exactly a graphic designer does in order to create the content required for whichever style is requested. In essence, a graphic designer attempts to bring the visual requests of a client into reality. Whatever the scope required of a graphic designer, their ultimate goal will be to convey the message of a company visually using any various combinations of colors, shapes, images, or fonts. 

With their knowledge and experience, a graphic designer will be better equipped to bring an idea to fruition outright or make the necessary changes required in order to bring it to life. The first step to any design would be meeting with the client and learning the details and vision for the project being requested. 

The next steps vary from project to project based on what exactly is requested and the details involved, but there are some aspects of graphic design that are included every time. Any design will certainly require the creation of visual concepts either by hand or computer software. 

Typography and the base knowledge of fonts and how it applies to visual design is also included in the vast majority of projects. Colors and how they are utilized to convey emotion or ideas is another absolute guarantee of any given design project, as even black and white is a color design choice. 

In order for a graphic designer to succeed, they must combine all of these various examples to create the perfect visual platform to express the information of whichever product, service, or company has employed them. In a constantly changing world, staying up to date with the variety of visual platforms available can be quite a challenge, but it’s paramount to the survival of both the graphic designer and the business that has hired them.

How to Become a Graphic Designer

While no higher education is necessarily required to be a graphic designer, it absolutely will be a benefit. Possessing an impressive creative portfolio may be enough to start a career, but companies are generally more inclined to hire those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Following an education, internships will be an important next step in the process. 

Now armed with both a certified education and general experience in the field, a graphic designer can begin working on their own specific portfolio in order to attract potential customers. While graphic design is a constantly evolving field with some career paths closing, there are many other paths being opened up. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic design opportunities in newspaper, book, or directory publishers will be declining by 16 percent over the decade. Alternatively, jobs in computer system design such as web-based graphics, portable devices, and video entertainment will increase by 35 percent in the same time frame. This illustrates that, much like a client’s idea, the field of graphic design is limitless and without boundary. The best graphic designers are the ones that know how to make the intangible a reality.


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