Sobhan Mohmand, Career Expert 1 May 2019
Graphic Designers are people who are able to harness their creative potential in order to create visual concepts which communicate complex ideas. These concepts are designed to enhance the appeal and information potential of advertisements, media (both print and online), corporate communications and other forms of visual communications.
Professionals working in this role must have excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, in order to communicate effectively with clients and establish the user specification.
Day-to-day activities and responsibilities
- Meeting with clients, discussing their requirements and negotiating the suitability (and practicality) of their ideas for their budget
- Translating user requirements into visual concepts
- Making accurate estimates as to the time and funds required for projects
- Designing the layout and overall concept of the visuals
- Choosing the most appropriate medium, colours, art direction, etc.
- Taking, manipulating and uploading pictures and photos for digital use
- Preparing rough sketches, storyboards and prototypes, by hand or via specialist computer software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
- Working with other professionals to successfully complete projects, including web designers, photographers and market specialists
- Improving or changing the preliminary designs and sketches according to client feedback and presenting the final product to the client
- Providing aftercare services to all clients
Workplace and working hours
Graphic Designers usually work out of a studio or an office, primarily adhering to standard working hours – 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM or 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday to Friday. Work can extend beyond these times during busy periods of the year, or around deadlines.
Some professionals may decide to work as freelancers. This would translate to much more flexible and varying workload amounts, although the irregular income may force some designers to take up a second job to supplement their income.
Depending on the sector, the entry-level pay for a Graphic Designer could be around £18,000, depending on location. Experienced professionals usually earn up to £30,000, while those in a senior or managerial position may earn up to £50,000.
Self-employed individuals may charge up to £30 per hour, depending on the client and project specifications.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Graphic Designers are usually required to possess a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, art or related fields. Most employers will also prefer to see a portfolio representing the candidate’s past work.
Skills in computer-aided design applications are also highly relevant and often required prior to employment. Examples include Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and others.
Skills and personal attributes
- Artistic Skills: Depending on the type of project, this does not necessarily equate to drawing, but Graphic Designers need to be able to visually represent concepts and ideas.
- IT Skills: A large part of modern graphic design is executed through the utilization of computer software applications. Thus, employees should be able to successfully work with those and to exploit them to their fullest potential.
- Collaboration Skills: Graphic Designers often work as part of a team to deliver the different components of the required work.
- Time Management Skills: Tasks assigned to Graphic Designers are usually time-constrained, as they are often associated with larger coordinated campaigns, projects or events.
- Commercial and Trend Awareness: Graphic Designers need to be able to choose the most appropriate and influential approach to representing a product or a concept, which often requires well- developed awareness of commercial, fashion, art or lifestyle trends.
Job likes and benefits
- Creativity: Graphic Designers are encouraged to unleash the full extent of their imagination to create visual designs and concepts which might get to become synonymous with the next great product or company.
- Work Atmosphere: The work atmosphere and culture are usually representative of the creative nature of the job, meaning that they are often more relaxed and less-formal compared to other professional settings.
- Contacts with Like-minded People: Contacts are very important in the artistic industry, as they could be key to finding future exciting work. Thus, constantly having to collaborate with other artists is among the perks of the job.
- Variety: Graphic Designers, especially freelancers, are often exposed to radically different projects, which contributes to the work feeling fresh and novel each time.
- Flexibility: Many Graphic Designers work on a freelance basis, or are offered substantial flexibility by their full employer, as long as the work gets done on time.
Job challenges and disadvantages
- Conflicting Visions: Situations may arise where the artistic vision of the Graphic Designers does not align with the requirements of the client or employer, leading to potential conflict.
- Frequent Reworks: Even if visions align, projects often require frequent reworks and redesigns in order to reach their best possible state. Especially in time-constrained settings, this might sometimes be stressful and repetitive for the artist.
- Stressful Periods: As the job is almost predominantly project-based, stressful and intensive periods are inevitable, especially with changing client requirements and looming deadlines.
Job progression and career prospects
The work of Graphic Designers is currently in high demand, especially considering that companies are more and more turning to digital advertising as one of their main marketing approaches. Therefore, many opportunities are associated with media enterprises, advertising agencies or in-house design teams. A lot of firms are also known to frequently rely on freelance designers to get the job done.
Nevertheless, competition in the sector is expected to be fierce, especially for employers offering high-profile work. The latter are also often looking for top talent with established credentials and portfolios, although entry and training positions are also popular.
Graphic Designers have very diverse job progression paths, due to their mixture of technical and artistic skills, and they might venture on to become Lead Designers, Creative Directors, Content or Interface Developers, etc. Moreover, they often transfer to marketing-oriented business roles.
Charted Society of Designers