Graphic Designers craft and edit visual pieces using photo editing software applications to convey ideas and communicate information in a more attractive way, while both reaching a specific audience and meeting the client’s requirements. Their designs can also serve to either detail or simplify data, present a product, or express a certain intent.
Most Graphic Designers work on a freelance basis, having to handle several assignments at a time, while others may be employed by communication departments where they’re most likely to be assigned to marketing tasks, playing a key role in brand management strategies and advertising campaigns.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Graphic Designers are required to complete.
- Liaising with clients to better determine their needs, preferences, and expectations:
- Identifying what are the best ways to illustrate and communicate their clients’ vision and image while complying with their established standards;
- sketching out ideas and sharing them with the clients to get their feedback and approval;
- communicating with the clients throughout the entire design process to ensure requirements are met and clarifying doubts at the same time, if any;
- checking designs for possible errors before submitting or publishing them; and
- submitting samples and mock-ups to clients, making adjustments when requested to.
- Collaborating with other staff members in major departments of the company, such as marketing, sales, and business operations during the respective phases of the project.
- Establishing budgets, deadlines, and guidelines:
- Drafting a clear plan that highlights all of the project’s main steps and contributors (e.g. Illustrators and Photographers).
- Designing logos, flyers, website templates, and any other visual material requested by their clients, using existing pictures, illustrations, or crafting their own:
- Using photo-editing software, typography guides and illustration banks; and
- taking into account the medium requirements (e.g. print, broadcasted, or digital).
- Creating mood boards and mock-ups, along with style guides, templates, and copy decks.
- Keeping up-to-date with the latest design trends, tools, and technologies.
- Maintaining work equipment in good conditions.
- Liaising with clients to determine their needs, to establish budgets and deadlines, and to get their feedback and approval.
- Using photo editing software applications, graphic tablets, scanners, and any other technological tool required in the making of original designs.
- Designing logos, flyers, website templates, along with any other visual material requested by their client.
The average Graphic Designer salary in USA is $46,910 per year or $24 per hour. This is around 1.6 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $33,000 while most experienced workers make up to $66,000. These results are based on 1,581 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding creativity and a strong artistic sense, always willing to try out new ideas and experiment with new tools:
- Being at the forefront of typography; and
- knowing color theory in order to know what’s the best color combination, texture and harmony.
- Interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to present and defend their ideas, as well as having effective listening skills as to understand the client’s requests;
- displaying strong customer-service skills;
- proactively soliciting and providing feedback; and
- being able to work cohesively with other departments (e.g. sales, marketing, and operations).
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Having strong multitasking skills; being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- being able to effectively manage multiple projects/tasks of varying complexities;
- being highly responsible, reliable, and organized;
- being able to solve any problems that may arise during the project; and
- being detail oriented, meticulous and structured.
- Ability to work autonomously and under pressure, as well as working within a multi-disciplinary team environment.
Aside from the skills listed above, in order to become a successful Graphic Designer, a person needs to be creative, artistic, and detail-oriented, as well as to have technical knowledge in the area, especially using graphic art software applications, including Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Illustrator, and Motion Graphics programs such as After Effects. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite is also required.
A formal education is not always required in this field, although it will definitely give the applicant more credibility. Hence, candidates who have pursued a degree in Graphic Design—or any other related field—are most likely to be hired. However, talent and experience are really what employers value the most when hiring Graphic Designers. Therefore, applicants with a non-related degree also have the possibility of working as Graphic Designers, as long as they receive the proper technical training. In this regard, several bodies, such as The National Association of Schools of Art and Design, offer many programs to prepare aspirants.
A great way for these professionals to showcase their skills and prove their proficiency in all areas of Graphic Design (e.g. typography, layout, color schemes) is to gather all of their strongest work into a rich, professional portfolio. As for experience, internships and volunteer opportunities are always a must. It’s a great way for candidates to develop their style and expertise, as well as to expand their network. Although not obligatory, getting certified is an excellent way to demonstrate and support their skills. Likewise, in order to stay updated in terms of design software and other related information, institutions such as The Graphic Artist Guild and The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), offer regular classes to cover these topics.
Graphic Designers are also required to have at least 3 years of experience in the area, in both print and digital environments. The more software applications and platforms they specialize in, the more likely they are to get hired or promoted to senior positions.
As most freelancers, Graphic Designers have the possibility to make their own schedule. Flexible working hours are a double-edged sword, because it’s easy to lose sight of upcoming deadlines. As a result, some Graphic Designers may end up working late nights and weekends to make up for the time lost. Expert time management and self-discipline are essential to prevent them from working outside of business hours too often.