Graphics are everywhere; on billboards, magazines, product labels, websites, you name it. All brands use printed and digital designs (think ads and logos) in an attempt to promote their products and services.

Behind every successful visual campaign is a talented graphic designer. A good graphic designer has a solid foundation in art and usually holds a bachelor’s degree in graphic art or design.

Graphic designers are artistic geniuses that breathe life into otherwise mundane content. But what exactly does a graphic designer do? Keep reading to find out!

A Broad Field

Graphic designers are visual communicators. They take words, pictures and other data and create memorable visual designs. They can turn any text into something new and exciting that will catch the viewer’s eye.

Graphic designers are artists. Their artistic skills are used to create visual concepts that inspire and captivate consumers. Their goal is to design media that will make a company or product stand out.

They are visual-thinking problem solvers that can literally create something out of nothing. No campaign or promotion is complete without a graphic designer. Keep in mind that the term graphic designer is a very broad one. Depending on their role, a graphic designer may be:

  • A creative director who manages a team that creates visuals for advertising campaigns, products etc.
  • An art production manager who manages the production of visual art with a specific focus on efficiency.
  • A web designer who creates graphics and layouts for different websites and pages.
  • A brand identity developer who develops brand identities for companies and other organisations.
  • A broadcast designer who creates designs and electronic media used in television productions.
  • A logo designer who creates brand logos that are visually appealing and appropriately reflect the brand’s key values and ideas.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Designers usually specialise in a particular category. For example, some may work with print media, while others create product labels, logos and posters.

We live in a digital world, so it’s no surprise that graphic designers can be found in almost every industry. 60.8% of marketers claim that visuals are integral to successful marketing. It’s also reported that 94% of users will leave a website with poor graphic design.

What Does a Graphic Designer do?

Graphic designers use a variety of elements (words, pictures, illustrations) to achieve different effects. Their skills are needed to produce unique designs for advertisements, magazines, brochures and web pages.

They often work with both images and text. They are the ones who decide on the type, font, colour and line length of titles, headlines and headings. Also they decide how images and text will be combined on page or screen: Where will the text be placed, how it will complement the picture and how both elements will come together to create a coherent whole.

They collaborate with writers to choose words and phrases that will make an impact. Words and images are the canvas on which graphic designers paint their designs. Their work typically involves:

  • Determining the message behind a visual design.
  • Creating visual concepts that identify a product.
  • Developing multimedia content for brands and their websites.
  • Bringing their ideas and designs to life by hand or by using computer software.
  • Presenting their ideas and designs to the art director or client.
  • Incorporating any changes into the final design.

Now more than ever, graphic design is becoming ever-so-important in marketing and promotional campaigns. This is why you’ll often find graphic designers working alongside marketing and PR managers.

A lot of work goes into producing designs that will resonate with a brand’s target audience. Designers work closely with marketers, writers, analysts and programmers to ensure the successful delivery of visual concepts that will have an impact.

To create appealing visual content, designers sketch by hand or use sophisticated computer software. The software that is used is constantly updated, which is why designers need to keep up, either or their own or through software training programs.

Flexible Work Opportunities

Graphic designers usually work either in-house or with a graphic design agency. Freelancing is another popular alternative.

Designers who work in-house are employed with an organisation and work around a single brand. Their job is to meet the creative needs of their company. Working in-house means a steady paycheck and plenty of opportunities to develop and advance.

Having to focus on just one brand can also make a designer’s life so much easier. Knowing exactly what is required and how to move forward with a campaign or promotion is always a plus. Graphic designers who work in-house need to be great communicators and need to learn how to cope in a non-design environment.

Agency work provides designers with the best working environment. Work is always relevant and design-related. Expectations are realistic and communication is so much easier. Designers who work with an agency are surrounded by fellow designers who are willing to help and guide them. Work is always design-related. However, there’s less job security as more people work on the same projects. Working days are long and deadlines are tight.

Freelance graphic designers are autonomous and responsible for every aspect of their business. They don’t have to commute and can work anywhere as long as there’s Wi-Fi. Their schedules are flexible and tailored to their lifestyle. But freelancing also means freedom of choice. Freelance designers get to select projects that sound interesting and work that is challenging and inspiring.

Freelancing doesn’t come without its drawbacks though. Freelance graphic designers (and all freelancers) work alone. Pay is unreliable and can vary dramatically from month to month. Having no coworkers may be challenging at times. Hunting and bidding for work is not too much fun either, especially if one is just starting out.

Many Challenges

Graphic design careers are filled with creativity, excitement and artistry. But the graphic design industry is also filled with challenges and hardships.

The biggest problem graphic designers face is the over-saturation of the industry. It’s an appealing career path for many due to its dynamic nature and creative freedom. Exceedingly high competition, however, leads to limited opportunities for many. That being said, good graphic designers will never be out of work.

Graphic design is less about design and more about problem-solving. The reality is that clients will be looking for those designers that can efficiently solve the issue at hand. Clients are not always familiar with design, which means that designers need to be able to read through the lines and make quick decisions.

Being creative but also working under tight deadlines is a huge challenge as well. Businesses demand quality content but also need to ensure that the time spent on a project aligns with the quoted price. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on designers, who have to come up with quick and effective solutions.

Did you know that social media posts with images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts? Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than words which is why so many companies choose to include a glyph or visual in their logo. Are you looking for advice on how to create the perfect logo? We’ve got you covered!