Graphics are an effective means of communicating information and ideas. Pictorial messaging is older than textual communication. Imagery and design capture attention faster than regular text. The human brain is said to take in and process visual content much quicker than words.
The impact of marketing and public relations campaigns as well as public announcements depends to a major extent on the quality of visual media. Graphic designers conceptualize and create visual media according to requirements. They are responsible for designing and developing pictorial and aesthetic communication.
This involves development of visual concepts based on inputs from management, marketing, other stakeholders, and clients. Based on that information, a designer creates images and layouts to communicate ideas, to inform, portray, and persuade, and to offer solutions to problems.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for graphic designers is estimated to increase by just 3 percent over the period 2020 to 2030. This is lower than overall average growth for all occupations in the United States.
Graphic designers normally work in design consultancies, advertising, media, public relations, publishing houses, and corporations. A significant number of graphic designers are self-employed, taking on-demand gigs from various clients.
The nature of the work varies, based on the company. At large enterprises, for example, a designer’s sole responsibility could be internal communication, designing materials for circulation among employees, and making presentations to department heads and management.
At design studios and agencies, by contrast, graphic designers work on a range of projects for multiple clients. A great many of these projects tend to be for public-facing, delivering various messages to both existing and potential customers.
Depending on the kind of organization, a graphic designer’s responsibilities may include some or all of the following:
Determining the scope of a project: This involves collaborating with the art director, marketing and other teams, and clients in order to understand their ideas and requirements. The graphic designer defines the scope on the basis of a clear understanding of the client or company’s business goals, brand strategy, organizational values and characteristics, and specific requirements of the project.
Interpreting strategy in visual form: A wide range of formats — including images in print and digital media, brochures, newsletters, web pages, other marketing materials, signage, presentations, and videos — are used to communicate visually. It is the designer’s job to convey strategy and messaging through fine and expressive art and design.
Presenting visual concepts to the marketing team or clients: The designer conceptualises the design, creates an outline, and presents it to stakeholders.
Creating visuals by hand or using software, or a combination of both: Designers use digital means — such as vector graphics editing, raster graphics photo-editing, and layout design software — to create designs as well as images. This can include creating illustrations, original representations, logos, symbols, and other visual elements.
Defining design elements: The designer decides on color, texture, symbols, imagery, layout, and font type, size and arrangement of text.
Ensuring quality and timeliness of deliverables: It is the designer’s responsibility to make sure that each project is of optimum quality, fulfils requirements, and is completed on time, within cost constraints.
Reviewing designs and existing processes: It is crucial to review project outcomes for errors and shortcomings and address the same before work is sent for printing or uploaded. Also, existing design methodologies need to be scrutinized periodically in order to identify and resolve weaknesses, and enhance design competencies.
Managing design and uploading: This entails handling the entire process from visualizing and finalizing the design concept, to ensuring flawless and high-quality deliverables, as well as uploading visuals using a content management system if needed.
Innovating: Accomplished graphic designers think creatively so as to come up with fresh ideas and develop original visual effects and interactive design elements to engage audiences.
Successful graphic designers don’t stop learning. Technology changes fast and designers must adapt or be left behind. Graphic designers need to keep abreast of frequent advances in graphics and design technology. Leading graphic design and photo editing software includes the Adobe products Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and Dreamweaver.
It is also essential to be aware of developments in best practices in the field of design and the use of content management systems.
Anyone aspiring to a career in graphic design must know that a fine eye for aesthetics and creative ability are the most important requirements. It is essential to have proven design experience. You need to work on a variety of projects in order to build a collection of work that displays a range of design skills for different media.
A strong portfolio of original work demonstrates one’s creativity, artistic style, and expertise in using graphic design software. One of the crucial factors that influences employers’ hiring decisions is the quality of a designer candidate's portfolio.
Generally speaking, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, fine arts, or a related subject is required for most graphic design roles. In some cases, experienced designers without a formal degree, but with a solid portfolio of a range of creative projects, may find design work. To advance in this career, however, you need relevant formal qualifications.
Graphic designers need to have professional experience with relevant industry software. Widely used packages include Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, InDesign, Dreamweaver, QuarkXPress, and Acrobat. Some employers may require knowledge of HTML and CSS or proficiency in using content management systems (CMS).
Time management skills are important, because many designers work on multiple projects simultaneously and need to prioritize and schedule work in order to meet deadlines.
Communication skills are vital as designers have to pay attention to the requirements of management and other stakeholders in the organization, or clients. They also need to communicate with team members as well as others concerned during the design process in order to ensure that their designs are in line with specifications.
Collaboration and team skills are required for lead designers who need to work together with a range of clients as well as marketing, PR, and other teams to understand marketing strategy and requirements. Designers who lead a design team must have organizational skills in order to delegate work and manage projects.
If you glance through job descriptions on leading job sites, you will notice that certifications are not specified for most graphic designer roles. However, relevant certifications can help to demonstrate proficiency in industry-specific software and may give the holder a slight competitive edge in a situation where the hiring manager values certified skills.
Certifications from leading product vendors include Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) and Adobe Certified Expert (ACE), especially the specific credentials related Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Certifications from Autodesk including Autodesk Certified Professional (ACP) and Autodesk Certified Expert (ACE) are also valuable.
What is most important is creative ability. To realize your potential, you need to develop a foundation in basic art and design and earn a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. Follow that up by building a solid portfolio that demonstrates skills and innovative design capabilities, and then work on live projects until you land a job as a graphic designer.