Graphic designers create images and designs to enhance visual communications and produce results. Graphic designers work with a variety of media, including print, television, film, and the Internet, to reach their desired audiences. They use illustrations, animations, photography, and print to achieve this purpose.
The work of graphic designers is varied. Graphic designers engage in numerous tasks such as preparing and producing layouts and designs for magazines and newspapers and designing and producing displays, brochures, logos, art materials, and signs for use by the government and different industries. Computers have widely increased the scope of graphic designers' work. Many graphic designers now produce material for web pages, multimedia projects, and interactive media.
Before beginning projects, graphic designers meet with clients to determine the projects' requirements. With those requirements in mind, they begin to design, taking into consideration the cultural, physical, and social aspects of the target audiences.
Graphic designers work with other professionals such as copywriters and artists to enhance the appeal of their work. Before beginning to design, graphic designers prepare—either manually or with the help of computers—rough sketches of the work they intend to produce. Numerous types of graphic design software are available in the market to assist graphic designers with their work. Computers help graphic designers cut costs and produce a range of designs for their clients.
Graphic designers work either independently or as members of organizations' graphic design teams. Independent graphic designers must spend considerable amounts of time developing business contacts, in addition their professional work. In contrast, major design companies locate business contracts through marketing efforts and pass on design assignments to their design teams.
Advertising, publishing, design, and print firms usually employ graphic designers. They tend to determine designers' working hours in accordance with business deadlines and client needs. Independent designers work on assignment bases, which may be unpredictable.
Some graphic designers even work at their clients' offices on important and ongoing projects. Work pressures and delays may force all graphic designers to work additional hours to complete certain projects.
Education and Qualifications
Generally, graphic designers must possess bachelor's degrees in the fine arts or the liberal arts. However, some technical positions may require only associate's degrees. Graphic designers also need training in computers and graphic design software. In addition to universities and colleges, many private and professional institutions offer graphic design education.
A portfolio of current and past work is always valuable for locating assignments and for career advancement. Aspiring graphic designers usually spend one to three years in trainee positions before they move up to senior positions. Graphic designers with more experience and skills can even become chief designers, art designers, creative designers, and/or teachers. Some designers begin their own designing firms or provide independent consulting services in graphic design to various companies and organizations.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, entry-level graphic designers earned a median salary of $32,000 in 2005. The median annual earnings for graphic designers were around $38,000 in 2004. While the lowest-paid designers earned less than $23,200 per year, the highest-paid designers earned more than $66,000 per year.
Is a Graphic Design Career for You?
People who are interested in graphic design careers—as either freelancers or employees of some of the great names in the field-are in luck, for the time is right for them to hone their creative skills in this challenging industry.