From billboards and product labels to laptops and smartphones, graphics are everywhere. Brands big and small use both print and digital designs – logos, websites or advertisements – in an effort to capture the attention of their audience and promote their product or service.
And regardless of what they’re selling, behind each brand’s visual campaign is a graphic designer.
But what exactly do graphic designers do?
Simply put, they create visual concepts, physical or digital, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform and engage consumers, according to the BLS Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While all designers have a few things in common, their job duties, work environments and skills can vary widely.
What is graphic design?
Involving aspects of marketing, art, technology and customer service, graphic design can seem like a complicated concept. To simplify their function, think of graphic designers as visual storytellers.
A good designer’s job is to use images to tell a story in a way that supports the brand message and evokes emotion.
According to graphic designer Pablo Solomon, a big part of graphic designers’ job is to combine form and function. “As with any good design, you want to achieve your practical goal in the most visually pleasing and impressive way possible,” he explains.
“Where musicians use music, poets use words, and dancers use movement to convey feelings, designers use images.”
In the end, a designer’s goal should be to satisfy the client’s desire to convey an idea in a visual way.
What does a graphic designer do?
Now that you have an idea of what graphic designers are responsible for, you’re probably wondering what they do on a daily basis.
Keep in mind that this can vary greatly depending on where you work and what you specialize in.
But when it comes to what a graphic designer does, there are some common tasks you can expect. Here are some of the day-to-day responsibilities, according to the BLS.
General duties of a graphic designer:
- Meeting with clients or art directors to determine project scope
- Using photo editing software, layout software and digital illustrations to create designs
- Selecting colors, images and fonts to convey the company’s brand and message.
- Presenting design concepts to clients or art director
- Making design changes based on stakeholder feedback and opinions
- Checking final design for errors before printing or publishing.
Where do graphic designers work?
There are three main areas in which graphic designers have the opportunity to work: in-house, agency or freelance.
An in-house designer is hired by a company to create creative materials specifically for their brand.
An agency designer works on a project-by-project basis for a company that provides creative services for various clients.
A freelance designer works independently and manages his own workload and clientele.
Each work environment has its advantages and disadvantages, and there are certain qualities and characteristics that are ideal for each. It’s important for graphic designers to familiarize themselves with the different options so they can decide which environment is best for them.
What do in-house graphic designers do?
In-house graphic designers enjoy the stability of a “traditional” work environment.
They design exclusively for the company for which they work, which allows them to fully immerse themselves in the brand and its target market.
A designer in this environment tends to be a jack-of-all-trades, with a broad skill set and the ability to take on many different projects for their team.
What do graphic designers do in agencies?
Quite often small companies or individuals outsource their design work to a graphic design agency.
Depending on the volume of projects, agency designers may do several projects for different clients in one week.
The scope of work tends to vary depending on incoming contracts, which often results in inconsistent schedules when working to meet deadlines. Agencies often hire design professionals and assign projects accordingly to ensure high quality.
What do freelance graphic designers do?
For business and self-disciplined designers, freelancing can be ideal. These designers are self-employed and often work from home.
As the person in charge, they are able to choose the hours they work, the types of projects and the clients they work with.
In addition to their design responsibilities, they are also responsible for marketing, finances, operations and other important aspects of their business.
Are you destined to be a graphic designer?
So what does a graphic designer do? It turns out that there is no standard job description. Specific responsibilities largely depend on the work environment and area of specialization.
This is good news for those interested in pursuing this profession, because you can, in fact, design your own career path – one that fits your own preferences and priorities.
If it’s to your liking, you might want to consider a career as a graphic designer.