What does a Graphic Designer do?
Graphic designers combine art and technology to communicate ideas through images and the layout of web screens and printed pages. They may use a variety of design elements to achieve artistic or decorative effects. They develop the overall layout and production design for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports. Graphic designers work with both text and images. They often select the type, font, size, colour, and line length of headlines, headings, and text. Graphic designers also decide how images and text will go together on a page or screen, including how much space each will have. When using text in layouts, they collaborate closely with writers who choose the words and decide whether the words will be put into paragraphs, lists, or tables. Their work typically involves the following:
- Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
- Advise clients on strategies to reach a particular audience
- Determine the message the design should portray
- Create images that identify a product or convey a message
- Develop graphics and visual or audio images for product illustrations, logos, and websites
- Create designs either by hand or by using computer software packages
- Select colours, images, text style, and layout
- Present the design to clients or the art director
- Incorporate changes recommended by the clients into the final design
- Review designs for errors before printing or publishing them.
Generally speaking, graphic designers work in one of three work environments. Therefore, the answer to this question depends on the option you choose.
Working as an in-house graphic designer
Working in-house means that you are employed with an established organization and your work revolves around a single brand or a single group of related brands. Graphic designers in these kinds of roles tend to be generalists. They possess a broad range of general design skills so that they are able to meet all the creative needs of the company.
Advantages of working in-house
– Perks of a traditional work environment: separation of home and work; collaboration with colleagues in a social workplace; company benefits
– A steady paycheck: stability without having to build up a clientele
– Opportunities to advance: potential to climb the corporate career ladder
– One brand or brand set to develop: singular focus allows designers to develop an in-depth understanding of the organization’s brand, style, and target audiences; opportunity to build a long-term strategy and see the results that it yields.
Disadvantages of working in-house
– More rules: an established company brand can feel restrictive; it requires that you come up with new ideas while adhering to brand guidelines
– More communication: you will likely have to explain and justify your designs to non-designers
– A non-design environment: office space may not be optimized with the designers in mind; there will be fewer, if any, fellow designers to collaborate with
Working as an agency graphic designer
Graphic design agencies are hired by outside clients to produce creative work. In this environment, designers typically work with an assortment of brands. Assignments tend to be short-term, project-base, and limited to a specific campaign.
Advantages of working at an agency
– Expectation of design excellence: managers and coworkers who are designers and/or familiar with the design world; high expectations of professionalism; diverse opportunities to advance your design skills; generally fewer communication delays than may occur when working with non-designers
– Established processes and mentors: agencies tend to have their processes and systems streamlined, as well as senior designers on staff, which creates productive learning environments for new designers
– Focus on graphic design: non-design tasks are extremely rare; daily work is always within the realm of graphic design
Disadvantages of working at an agency
– Less job security: agencies hire staff to match the contracts they have; if the project list dips, there is a risk of lay-off due to the need to reduce the number of graphic designers
– Rigorous hours: Agency settings are fast-paced, with tight deadlines; occasional late nights to finish a project are not uncommon
Working as a freelance graphic designer
Freelance graphic designers are responsible for more than just graphic design. They are responsible for every aspect of their business, from marketing and client relations to bookkeeping and invoicing. The role calls for considerable self-discipline and dedication.
Advantages of working as a freelancer
– Location: no commuting; flexibility to work from anywhere with Wi-Fi
– Creative freedom: creative flexibility; select work that challenges and inspires you
– A tailored schedule: tailor your hours to the lifestyle you want, as long as you keep up with the workload and remain productive
Disadvantages of working as a freelancer
– No coworkers: essentially, you will be working alone in relative isolation, in a non-collaborative environment, which may at times challenge your motivation
– Hunting and bidding for work: projects will not land on your desk; you will have to actively seek – and sometimes compete to win – projects
– Unreliable pay without benefits: pay can vary dramatically from month to month, depending on the flow of work; health insurance.