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What is Graphic Design?

By Jacob Queen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Graphic design is the field involving professionals who are expert at crafting visual imagery, usually with a commercial or professional purpose. Examples of graphic design would be the logos on products that people buy or the graphics and visual layout of many web pages. People who work in this field produce art using images and typeface in a purposeful way to convey some kind of message. The field is constantly changing and evolving as technology and tastes allow for different approaches.

The prevalence of personal computers has had a large effect on the field of graphic design. Many computer programs allow designers to manipulate images much more easily than traditional methods, so photographs can be altered simply, and art can be created from scratch using new techniques. Computers have also been instrumental in the popularity and use of the Internet, which has created a huge market for graphics design professionals who work on the creation of web content.

People who work in this field often work alone, but sometimes they can be part of a big team. For example, one designer may be responsible for altering an image, while another is responsible for crafting the typeface that will be used. In more collaborative efforts, there will typically be one designer who is overseeing the basic concept behind everything, and he will be responsible for getting the most creative effort out of each of his staff members.

Graphic designers can be employed in numerous different contexts, so there are generally a wide variety of jobs available with a lot of different pay levels and specific tasks to perform. Any time a company needs some kind of visual layout, there is a good chance that a professional graphic designer is responsible for creating it. People who do this type of work can work in everything from publishing to advertising to politics. Sometimes, a graphic design professional may work for a big company, but he also can work alone as an independent contractor.

Many colleges offer programs in graphic design, which deal with every aspect of the field and help in getting jobs in the industry. A graphic designer will need to learn how images affect a person’s emotions and behaviors, and they also need to have a good grasp of all the techniques and technology that is used in the industry to create those images. Some graphic design professionals also study other subjects like advertising or psychology to get a greater understanding of human behavior and communication techniques.

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Discussion Comments
By anon934050 — On Feb 18, 2014

i know a thing or two about graphic design and I personally believe that any person reading this definition would have no clue what it is. Art comes from the heart, not from a big fancy definition. Don't people start out by letting their imagination run free and then applying that to paper?

By roser — On May 09, 2011

Another tip if you want to become a graphic designer: it's not good enough just to know Photoshop or Illustrator, you WILL have to draw! A lot of schools require you to present a portfolio before you're accepted into the program, also.

Working with clients can be frustrating, but if you enjoy working by yourself and being creative, this might be a career worth pursuing.

By softener — On May 08, 2011

I studied graphic design for about two semesters at college and the main piece of advice I'd offer to potential graphic designers is do not confuse it with art. It's a highly creative profession, that's for certain, but you are by no means allowed to just run free and make whatever you think looks good. Graphic design schools try to beat this into you from day one by forcing you to explain why your design is effective; in the example of a logo design, you have to have reasons for your choice of font, color scheme and any other graphic elements you might choose to include. It also has to fit the guidelines of the project and be consistent with what the logo is going to represent.

Graphic design informs much of the symbols that surround us in the modern world and in order to be successful as a graphic designer you need to become conscious of those symbols.

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