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Graphic Design An Overview

“At a meta level, design connects the dots between mere survival and humanism.”

­ —Erik Adigard

Table of Contents Freelance Graphic Design

Graphic Design: A Career

What Do You Need To Become A Graphic Designer?

What Types of Graphic Design Are There?

What Do Graphic Designers Do?

What Is Graphic Design?

What Is Graphic Design? Graphic Design can easily be defined as the art or profession of visual communication that combines images, words, and ideas to convey information to an audience. Images, parrerns, layouts and other graphic devices are composed into a coherent, distinctive design intended for printing or display over visual media. A graphic design does not have to be compicated, containing a multitude of graphic elements, to be effective. Graphic design visually communicates ideas and information. It’s a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas. Graphic design is most commonly used to create marketing materials that wind up in consumer’s hands. Safety decals and signs are designed to convey important information in an instant. The designer works with a variety of communication tools in order to convey a message from a client to a particular audience. The main tools are image and typography. Graphic Design is part of your daily life. From the humble things like gum wrappers to huge things like bilboards, to the T-shirt you’re wearing, graphic design

informs, persuades, organizes, stimulates, locates, identifies, attracts attention and provides pleasure. Graphic design is a very exciting career to enter into. You’ll often be working with cutting edge technology, using your creativity, and having fun doing it. If you pay attention to detail, are patient, creative, and like solving problems, then you are well on you way.

“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as to accomplish a particular purpose.” ­ —Charles Eames

What Do Graphic Designers Do? Graphic Designers plan, analyze, and create visual solutions to communication problems. They find the most effective way to get messages across using color, type, illustration, photography, animation, and variou print anwwd layout techniques. They develop the overall production design and layout of magazines, newspapers, and other publications. Ever wonder who designs the products you’re surrounded by each and every day? Graphic designers produce promotional displays, packaging, and marketing brochures for products and services, logos, and develop signage. They determine the needs of the client, and interpret the message the design should portray. Next they prepare sketches and layouts to illustrate their vision for the design. Graphic designers work with drawn, painted, photographed or computer-generated images, but they also design the letterforms that make up various typefaces found in movie credits and TV ads; in books, magazines, and menus; and even on computer screens. Designers create, choose, and organize these elements—typogra-

phy, images, and the so called “white space” around them–to communicate a message. Designers are the link between the client and the audience. On the one hand, a client is often too close to the message to understand various ways in which it can be presented. The audience, on the other hand, is often too broad to hae an direct imact on how a communication is presented. What’s more, it is usually difficult to make the audience a part of the creative process. Unlike client and audience, graphic designers learn how to construct a mesage and how to present it successfully. They work with the client to understand the content and the purpose of the message. They often collaborate with market researchers and other specialists to understand the nature of the audience. Once a design concept is chosen, the designers work with illustrators and photographers as well as with typesetters and printers or other production specialists to create the final design product.

What Types of Graphic Design Are There? Graphic design has a large variety of disciplines. Although each are very different, they all reflect the basic principles of design.

Graphic Communications:

Web Design:

Computer Graphics:


A comprehensive theoretical grounding in printing technology and valuable business skills

A subfield of computer sceince, concerened with digitally synthesizing and manipulating visual content


Specialize in enhancing writing by providing a visual representation that corresponds to the content of the associated text

Visual Communication:

The conveyence of ideas and information in forms that can be read or looked upon

The process of creating or changing websites, inserting text content, graphics, and interactive modules

Prepress involves a variety of tasks including checking proofs for errors and print clarity and correcting any mistakes, transforming text and pictures into finished pages, and making printing plates of the pages

Art Direction:

Art directors, or creative directors are in charge of a creative team that produces artwork to be displayed in magazines, on television, on billboards, on the web, or on products

What Do You Need To Become A Graphic Designer? Many high school students that are interested in a graphic design career wonder if it is really necessary to attend a school and get a degree or certificate in graphic design. Do I really need one if I’m really artistic to begin with? They can be great at sketching, painting, and so on. Others might have some good experience working with software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and so on. They think that since they understand software, and have gone through the tutorials, that they can do this graphic design thing. You might have a chance if you can piece some of these things together, and the employer isn’t at all picky. You might be able to fluke it. But graphic design is not just about creativity and or software. Graphic design is about visual problem solving, and meeting the needs of the client. It’s not about making something look cool, but rather to sell a product or an idea visually in a captivating way. Good graphic design schools will mold and shape you so you can do just that. When hiring a graphic designer, an employer wants to know that you understand the whole process of graphic

design. They want to know if you will be able to work with other members of the team. They want to know that you understand design principles, typography, color, the art of selling. A graphic design degree or certificate from a recognized graphic design school and a reference from the teacher can give them peace of mind that the person that they are hiring will most likely have the foundation to do well and succeed. Hiring someone who has done all of this on their own is a big risk. They really just have to take the word of the person being interviewed, and most employers don’t want to take a leap of faith like that.

“Design is in everything we make, but it’s also between those things. It’s a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda, and philosophy.” — Erik Adigard

Graphic Design: A Career Graphic design, like many creative fields, is intensely competitive. While the outlook for the field is bright considering the increasing demand for graphics, particularly those destined for online uses, it is a field that continues to attract many talented individuals. When considering a career in graphic design it is important to remember how competitive the field is. Graphic designers use images and type to create a wide array of products, from corporate brochures to CD covers to book jackets and logos. While publishing and advertising are two of the most prevalent industries when it comes to employing graphic designers, almost every industry relies on the services of graphic designers when it comes time to produce printed materials. In many cases, graphic designers also significantly contribute to online materials and designs. Graphic designers work with images and text in a variety of formats, from print to electronic. Most graphic design today, however, relies on computer software, and the combination of the designer’s creativity and skilled eye and his or her technical savvy is a crucial one.

No formal degree is required to become a graphic designer, although many entry-level positions require a bachelors degree. Nonetheless, a focused graphic design degree can be enormously beneficial, improving your skills and helping you to develop a strong portfolio, which is generally the most essential part of finding work in the field The current median wage for graphic designers is around $35,000, with most designers earning between $20,000 and $60,000. While full-time salaried graphic design positions are available, many graphic designers work on a contract, freelance basis. For graphic designers who set out on their own, business savvy plays an important role in their ability to succeed.

“If design isn’t profitable, then it’s art.” –Henrik Fiskar

Freelance Graphic Design Freelance graphic design can be very rewarding. You are your own boss, you’re not stuck in an office (at least not sitting beside that noisy guy with the weird tie), and there is really no limit on how much you can potentially earn. But it’s no walk in the park either.

“There is no design without discipline. There is no discipline without intelligence.” –Massimo Vignelli You will need to pick a good name that will help you stand out from the rest of the competition and sounds professional. Really try avoiding the word freelance in your name. Pick something that sounds like it’s more than just a solo act. You will most likely need to check with local authorities whether or not your name has already been chosen. Registering a name prevents others from using this name, and prevents you from taking others that have registered.

Without a doubt, you will need a place where you will not be distracted or disturbed by the outside world. Office space is ideal, but many freelancers can work out of their homes with success. If working from home, try and have a whole room or even wing of the house dedicated to this business. Trying to work while your kids are taunting you to build a Lego spaceship can be testing and distracting. Keep this place of work clean and organized. Even if a client never sets foot in your office, keep it clean. Don’t have objects in there that will distract you. This is your place of work. Keep it that way. Look for a large desk or something with a large surface area. Having room just enough for your computer/office equipment isn’t enough. You should have a place where you can lay out written ideas, drawings, printouts, and more. Have a filing cabinet to keep all of your clients information in along with other important documents and agreements. Have your phone in a good place where you don’t have to move away from your work area.

Essential Tools of Graphic Design In today’s design world, a computer is essential. It will be both your design tool and your business tool. Using graphics software, you will create illustrations, work with type, touch-up photos and complete layouts. The major decision here is what computer to get, and this generally starts with deciding between a Mac and PC. Graphics and business-related software are also a key to your success. Some products, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, focus on the creative end of design. Other packages, such as project management or time tracking software, will help you stay organized and manage the business end of design. While you’re most likely to use a computer to complete a design, you don’t have to start with one. Sketching out ideas is a great way to begin a project and brainstorm, and can be much quicker than mocking something up on a computer. It’s also important to always keep a small sketchpad or notepad handy, as you can forget a great idea as fast as you thought of it. It’s very helpful to build up your own small library of graphic design

books. Some should be for inspiration, some for technical help, and others to assist you on the business side of design. While you may not think of them as a “tool,” knowing other designers, illustrators, web developers, photographers and other creatives is extremely important for three reasons: It’s not easy to critique yourself. Get opinions on your work and encourage constructive criticism to push your work to a higher level.Having others around to brainstorm with can bring about the best ideas.As you get projects that are more involved, you will need people to collaborate with. Find a group of people you can trust with different skillsets than your own so you can work on projects together. These essential tools will help you get started, in a career in graphic design. All you need to do now is combine them with your creativity!

Special thanks to the following organizations for their contribubutions:

EO | Eric Olivier 2011 5116 Highland Baton Rouge Louisiana 70808

What Is Graphic Design  
What Is Graphic Design  

An informational booklet on the exciting career of graphic design.