A graphic designer works on a variety of products and activities, such as websites, advertising, books, magazines, posters, computer games, product packaging, exhibitions and displays, corporate communications and corporate identity, i.e. giving organisations a visual brand.
- Meeting clients or account managers to discuss the business objectives and requirements of the job
- Estimating the time required to complete a job and providing quotes for clients
- Developing design briefs that suit the client’s purpose
- Thinking creatively to produce new ideas and concepts and developing interactive design
- Using innovation to redefine a design brief within time and cost constraints
- Presenting finalised ideas and concepts to clients or account managers
- Working with a range of media, including computer-aided design (CAD), and keeping up to date with emerging technologies
- Proofreading to produce accurate and high-quality work
- Demonstrating illustrative skills with rough sketches and working on layouts ready for print
- Commissioning illustrators and photographers
- Working as part of a team with printers, copywriters, photographers, stylists, illustrators, other designers, account executives, web developers and marketing specialists.
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 on a print or web page, including how much space each will have. When using text in layouts, graphic designers collaborate closely 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 can transform statistical data into visual graphics and diagrams, which can make complex ideas more accessible.
Graphic design is important in the sales and marketing of products, and is a critical component of brochures and logos. Therefore, graphic designers, also referred to as graphic artists or communication designers, often work closely with people in advertising and promotions, public relations, and marketing.
Key skills for graphic designers
- Excellent IT skills, especially with design and photo-editing software
- Exceptional creativity and innovation
- Excellent time management and organisational skills
- Accuracy and attention to detail
- An understanding of the latest trends and their role within a commercial environment
- Professional approach to time, costs and deadlines
The median annual wage for graphic designers was $44,150 in May 2012. 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 $26,250, and the top 10 percent earned more than $77,490.
Most graphic designers work full time, but schedules can vary depending on workload and deadlines.
In 2012, about 24 percent of graphic designers were self-employed. Graphic designers who are self-employed may need to adjust their workday to meet with clients in the evenings or on weekends. In addition, they may spend some of their time looking for new projects or competing with other designers for contracts.