graphic designer (2024 Guide)

What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

BrainStation’s Graphic Designer career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a career in graphic design. Read on for an overview of the Graphic Designer role, typical graphic design job responsibilities, and more.

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A Graphic Designer communicates ideas and information through visuals concepts. Primarily using design software, they create compelling visuals that inspire and captivate audiences. Graphic Designers strategically combine design elements to develop aesthetically appealing layouts, advertisements, reports, logos, packaging, and more.

What Is a Graphic Designer?

Graphic Designers create visual concepts with the goal of attracting the interest of clients through digital and physical designs that typically use graphics, images, art, and other visual elements. Although Graphic Designers may use a variety of tools to create their designs, all Graphic Designers must be able to use their hands at least occasionally to create designs, even if they prefer to rely on their digital skills and graphic design software.

Graphic Designers come with different educational and professional experiences, with some possessing a four-year bachelor’s degree in graphic design or communication design and others succeeding despite having no formal training in graphic design.

There are plenty of bachelor’s degree programs and even master’s degree programs in graphic design, digital media design, and communication design. AIGA, the professional association for design, issued a joint statement with the National Association of Schools of Art and Design stating graphic design students should “make informed decisions about the match between their own educational goals and what programs deliver in actual preparation for performance in the field.”

The statement continued that someone who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication design should be qualified – although there are no guarantees – for many entry-level positions in the field of graphic design. However, the statement continued that one with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts or liberal arts would not be considered ready for entry and later upward mobility within graphic design.

There are also plenty of online certificate courses teaching graphic design skills that require varying degrees of commitment to complete. These certificate courses are a great idea even for established Graphic Designers, who would benefit from polishing their skills and learning new graphic design software.

What Is the Role of a Graphic Designer?

Graphic Designers create visual concepts to communicate information. They create everything from posters and billboards to packaging, logos and marketing materials. Graphic Designers use elements such as shapes, colors, typography, images and more to convey ideas to an audience. Graphic Designers can work in-house, creating designs specifically for one brand, or at an agency or as a freelancer, where they work with a variety of clients.

The role of Graphic Designers varies depending on where they work. Some tasks that designers may work on include selecting photos and typefaces, developing layouts, and designing logos. Graphic Designers may specialize in a particular area, such as motion graphics or print media.

Graphic Designers often need to communicate with clients and consumers to develop designs that portray an intended message. They also collaborate with other graphic designers, marketers, business analysts, writers, and programmers to create successful products, campaigns, or websites.

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Common Graphic Design Job Description

Graphic Designers have a range of responsibilities depending on their specialty and workplace. Typically, they will meet with clients or art directors to determine design needs. Using design software, they will combine images, illustrations, and text to bring an idea to life. They may also need to present their ideas and incorporate feedback from colleagues or clients into subsequent drafts.

A typical Graphic Designer job description may include some of these responsibilities:

  • Study design briefs and determine requirements
  • Advise clients on strategies to engage target audiences
  • Identify the best ways to illustrate and communicate clients’ vision while complying with design best practices
  • Create designs using illustration, photo editing and layout software
  • Select colors, images, typography and layout for communication materials, including websites, logos, signs, books, magazine covers, annual reports, advertisements, and social media posts
  • Illustrating concepts by designing rough drafts of art arrangement, font size, and style, and submitting for approval
  • Produce drafts for client review and make revisions based on feedback received
  • Collaborate with clients, Art Directors, and creative team members such as marketing, sales, and business operations, throughout the various phases of a project to determine project scope and deliverables
  • Use digital graphic design software to create graphic images and design layouts that communicate company messaging and achieve artistic or decorative effects, including a selection of colors, images, and fonts
  • Communicate designs and concepts to clients or Art Directors before incorporating their recommended changes into revised designs
  • Testing graphics across various media
  • Amending designs based on client and stakeholder feedback
  • Ensuring final graphics and layouts are visually appealing and on-brand
  • Review final graphic designs for errors before publishing
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest design trends, tools, and technologies

What Is the Difference Between Graphic Design and UX and UI Design?

Graphic design relates to the visual design of a product. UX design looks at the overall experience a user has with a product. UI design is concerned with the visual elements that a user interacts with. These three forms of design are connected in many ways, but each has a different area of focus.

Graphic Designers communicate ideas or messages through visual designs. They select and arrange design elements to create visually appealing work for print, web, or multimedia. Graphic design is primarily focused on how something looks. Through combining the right elements, graphic design can evoke certain emotions and feelings.

UX design focuses on the logic and structure of products that users interact with. This can include web or mobile applications or software. UX Designers apply user-centered design approaches to create experiences that are functional and pleasant. Through competitive analysis, user interviews, user personas, wireframing and journey flows, UX Designers create user-friendly experiences.

Similar to graphic design, UI design is concerned with visual experiences, but it focuses on the elements that users interact with. This includes buttons, color scheme, form input fields, animations, and drop down menus. UI Designers take the framework and wireframes created by UX Designers and turn them into visual deliverables before handing them off to the development team.

What Kind of Companies Hire Graphic Designers?

Graphic design is an integral part of marketing and branding, so Graphic Designers can work for a range of different companies. A few industries that hire Graphic Designers include:

Internet and software development

The demand for Graphic Designers is rapidly growing as new technology continues to be developed.

Television and video production

As motion graphic design increases in popularity, television and video production companies are looking for Graphic Designers who can create title sequences, ads, and video clips.

Corporate branding

Companies across various sectors need Graphic Designers to enhance or maintain their brand.


Companies are looking for talented Graphic Designers to develop product packaging that will catch the eye of potential customers.


Advertising agencies typically have a few Graphic Designers on staff, each with a different area of expertise. Agency Graphic Designers work with clients to develop creative materials that meets their needs.

What Are Some Common Roles for Graphic Designers?

There are a variety of jobs that fall under the umbrella of graphic design. A few of the most common roles of Graphic Designers include:

  • Creative Director
  • Art Director
  • Art Production Manager
  • Package Designer
  • Brand Identity Developer
  • Visual Image Developer
  • Visual Journalist
  • Broadcast Designer
  • Logo Designer
  • Interface Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Multimedia Developer Content Developer

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