Job Functions for a Graphic Designer or Graphic Artist
Graphic artists and graphic designers start all projects by seeking to understand the needs of the given client. After understanding the message the design should convey, as well as the target audience and the type of appeal the design should generate, the graphic artist then chooses the media to convey the message. With the popularity of the Internet, web designers may hire graphic artists to support a web design, as well as to produce printed or filmed media.
In formulating an approach to a project, graphic design jobs consider physical, social, cultural and cognitive factors in planning designs for the target audience. Project requirements are gathered from meeting with the clients and art directors, as well as through research into what the consumer identifies as important. Graphic artists who work with corporations to create corporate communication strategies also must understand how market research fits in with the design process.
Prior to production, the graphic artist will create a mock-up or story board to demonstrate the vision of the project to the client. By selecting colors, artwork, photography, animation, type styles, as well as other visual elements of the design, the graphic artist sets the tone for the communication. Graphic artists also choose the layout, size, and proportions of the elements on the page or screen. They may create charts, graphs, or pictures to represent data for publications. They also consult with copywriters for any text or scripts that accompany the design.
For printed material, the graphic artist will also select the weight, type, and style of paper and ink used for the publication. At this point, the graphic artist presents the concept to the client for approval.
Types of Positions Held by Graphic Artists and Graphic Designers
Graphic artists may be employed by a design, publishing, or advertising firm. In this environment, the graphic designer may specialize in a particular medium or style of communication depending on the needs of the firm.
Graphic designers may be independent contractors working on contract work. Graphic artists who work as freelancers generally must work to complete one project while finding the next project to maintain a steady flow of revenue.
Educational Requirements and Certifications
Almost every entry-level or freelance graphic design job requires a bachelor’s degree. Most graphic artists have a degree in graphic design or fine arts. Most degrees offer courses in the principles of design, computerized design, studio art, commercial graphics production, printing techniques, and website design. Many successful graphic artists also have taken courses in psychology, sociology, communications, art history, marketing, and business. With digital media becoming the dominant platform, many employers expect graphic designers to be familiar with computer applications used for graphic arts.
Skills to Highlight on Resumes for Graphic Arts and Graphic Design Positions
Corporations and agencies who are looking for graphic arts candidates want to see candidates who recognize that consumer tastes change quickly and who are able to demonstrate adaptability to this changing environment. Candidates who are able to demonstrate skills in communicating their ideas visually and verbally, as well as in writing, are more likely to be successful in the interviewing process.
Candidates should tailor their portfolios based on the type of media in which they have demonstrated expertise. A candidate should tailor his or her portfolio to focus on media and project types used by clients the given agency serves. Applicants who are able to demonstrate their ability to work in media that an agency specializes in are more likely to continue through the interview process and successfully secure a graphic design job.
Job Market and Outlook
One in four graphic artists are self-employed as freelance graphic artists. While freelance graphic design jobs may represent one quarter of the marketplace, specialized shops and firms also hire skilled graphic artists. Between 2006 and 2016, jobs in graphic design are expected to grow by 10 percent. This roughly mirrors the projected general growth of employment in the United States. Some firms have begun to outsource basic layout and design to foreign companies. This trend may make it more challenging for candidates looking for entry-level graphic design jobs. While this trend is not likely to affect strategic positions, technical graphic design positions may see an accelerated outsourcing.
Entry-level graphic design jobs currently average about $35,000 per year. Senior designers with supervisory responsibility, meanwhile, may earn an average of $62,000 per year. Owners and partners in graphic design firms earn the most, with an average salary of $113,000 per year.
In-house jobs in graphic design as well as self-employed freelance graphic design jobs that focus on the strategic needs of the client and target market will continue to grow at the rate of the rest of the economy. While technical design and layout jobs may be outsourced overseas, graphic designers and graphic artists who are able to deliver services that reach a specialized target market will continue to grow through 2016.