What Graphic Designers Do?
Graphic designers help communicate ideas visually when words alone don't tell the whole story. Many times, a small pie chart can convey more information than a 300-word article, and it's a graphic designer's job to know how to present that information so it's useful to the consumer. Graphic designers are highly skilled in design theory, from the use of color to the nuances of various fonts, and they use that knowledge to help sell products or convey information.
A graphic designer's job is to use visual elements to help communicate information. This includes the use of color, images, charts and graphs and other visual cues. Graphic designers also help to enhance the look of magazines, corporate presentations and websites by making them more colorful, eye-catching and easier to navigate. Graphic designers often work closely with others to produce a total package, from coordinating with copy editors at a newspaper to consulting with salespeople for major ad campaigns.
While there have been artists of various kinds throughout mankind's history, graphic design didn't become its own distinct field until after the invention of typesetting. To this day, the use of fonts is an important part of most graphic design projects. The industrial revolution also allowed various designs-- such as book illustrations, wall paper and more-- to be mass produced. Various artistic and aesthetic movements, such as the the avant-garde and Bauhaus movements, influenced design elements in the first half of the 20th century. In the 1980s and 1990s, the growing use of computers added a digital element to the design process. Before the 1990s, most design was done with colored pencils and other traditional art implements. Today, the majority of designing is done with computer software.
Graphic designers may work on-staff at a publication or advertising firm. Many are freelance or contract workers. Some graphic designers do both- they may work full time on staff at a publication while moonlighting as a web designer on the weekends, for instance. Graphic designers may work in a variety of formats. This can range from designing the credits for movies to conceiving the look for a glossy magazine to formatting photos and building charts and graphs for a newspaper.
Since the 1990s, the average consumer has had access to easy-to-use desktop publishing tools. Some people have decided that since anyone can make a newsletter or flyer on his PC that graphic designers are irrelevant. However, good designers have taken many classes in design theory and know a great deal about what shapes, colors and logos will work in print or in other media. Most working graphic designers have a minimum of an associate's degree and most have a bachelor's degree and have advanced skills in a variety of software for manipulating photographs, fonts and other design elements.
Competition for graphic design jobs can be fierce in many markets. Those who learned design theory with traditional artistic tools prior to the 1990s will be at a disadvantage to those who grew up using computers to create designs. Much of the new growth in the field is in the area of computer graphics, from designing the look of a video game to creating or updating websites for clients.