What is graphic design and everything you need to know about it

What is Graphic Design? Everything Aspiring Graphic Designers Need to Know

Table of Contents

Words are sometimes not enough to deliver your message. Visualization is needed to illustrate the information better. For this reason, the creativity of a graphic designer is important because if the design is plain, it will not draw much attention.

Without realizing it, many of us have been exposed to designs every day. The billboard you see on the streets, the cover of your favorite magazine, and the packaging of any supermarket snacks are examples of it. 

Although some of them might be lousily designed, many others have successfully impressed you. The impressive designs you see are why the graphic design industry is needed to create engaging designs.

What is graphic design?

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Photo by Emily Bernal on Unsplash

Graphic design, or known as visual communication design, is a process of combining typography, illustration, photography, and color palettes to deliver a message through design. The designs are made to persuade, inform, direct, organize, entertain, and attract the audience’s attention.

It is called visual communication design because graphic design delivers the message and information to the audience with a robust visual approach.

When you hear the word graphic design, you might be thinking of those advertisements you see everywhere. You have come across these in various ways, such as websites and social media. Even when you go outside, you can see designs at malls, schools, public transportations, and more!

The massive placement of designs in a lot of places is because graphic design is considered commercial art. This means graphic designs are made to raise the audience’s awareness of particular businesses.

Although graphic design is still a unique artistic expression, the intention is still to persuade the audience by creating individual identities of companies and brands. This can come out as logos, typography, and visual identity.

Since the growth of online technology, many businesses opt to switch their strategy online. You can look at some online shops and company’s social media as an example. 

The shift impacts the graphic design industry’s employment. Many companies and brands hire graphic designers to support their enterprise development.

Unfortunately, many people still underestimate the visual design field by thinking of it as easy work. However, it’s not an easy job as there are efforts to make and obstacles to overcome in order to become a graphic designer.

What Do Graphic Designers Do?

Business photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

As a visual communicator, a graphic designer will create the visual concepts. They do it either by hand or using computer software.

The visual concepts include various forms of art, such as images, texts, and graphics. They aim to deliver ideas, inform, inspire, or attract customers through physical and digital platforms.

A graphic designer will focus their design on customers. That’s why they need to understand the target audience for the clients and companies they’re working for.

Target audience means the characteristic of potential buyers that matches with what product or service the brand is trying to sell. As there could be many customer traits, a graphic designer will work in a team to adjust the strategy; thus, the client can accomplish the expected goal.

For example, a graphic designer will work with a writer—mostly a copywriter—to choose the wording and decide how it will be displayed in the design. A graphic designer could also request the writer to add more words if some spaces need to be filled with more information.

As mentioned above, a graphic designer will work in a team. There are a few steps during the pre-design until the delivery process that needs to be followed. Here is the workflow list of a typical graphic designer:

  • Meet with clients or art directors to understand the scope of the project
  • Use photo-editing, layout, digital illustration, and graphics software to create designs
  • Choose colours, images, and typefaces to represent the brands and deliver the messages
  • Present the design concepts to clients or art directors
  • Revise the design concepts based on feedback from clients or art directors
  • Review the final designs to ensure that there are no errors before printing or publishing them

Types of graphic designs

If you aspire to be a graphic designer, it’s beneficial to know all kinds of graphic design. Although it won’t be mandatory to master all of these, it never hurts to learn!

Visual identity graphic design

Visual identity is the visual elements that make a company’s products or services unique and memorable. As the face of the brand, visual identity is a set of features, including:

  • Logo
  • Colours
  • Typography
  • Photography

Marketing and advertising graphic design

Marketing and advertising graphic design are created to attract the audience’s attention. The arrangements are made based on the customer’s mindset and it aims to promote the brand. 

Examples of marketing and advertising graphic designs are:

  • Postcards and flyers
  • Magazines and newspaper ads
  • Posters, banners, and billboards
  • Infographics
  • Digital and printed brochures
  • Social media ads
  • Images for websites and blogs
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • Trade show displays
  • Banner and retargeting ads

User interface design

User interface (UI) design is the process of creating a website layout that is user-friendly and makes the navigation through the site easier for any visitor. UI designers aim to create a balance between aesthetics and the technical function of the interface.

Examples of user interface designs including:

  • Web page designs
  • Theme design for online platforms, such as WordPress and Shopify
  • Applications design
  • Game interface

Product packaging graphic design

Since most products need packaging to protect the contents, therefore packaging graphic design exists. Packaging design is usually effective when it has an iconic logo or symbol that represents the brand well. This can vary from colours, shapes, and other visual elements. Through this, it becomes an effective marketing strategy as it becomes more known to any customers. 

Publication graphic design

Publication graphic design is famous for its classical outputs, such as books, newspapers, and magazines. Although there’s been an increase in digital platform publishing. The goal is still to communicate with the audience through mass distribution.

Example of publication graphic design:

  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Newsletters
  • Magazines
  • Catalogues
  • Annual reports

Motion graphic design

This is a type of graphic design where the objects are moving, thus called motion design. A motion designer will use visual effects, animations, and other techniques to bring life to their art.

Examples of motion graphic design:

  • Commercial videos
  • Movie trailers
  • Movie clips
  • Title sequences

Environmental graphic design

Environmental graphic design or EGD is a field of design that combines graphic design, architecture, art, lighting, landscape, and more. The goal of this type of graphic design is to create an experience through interior and exterior designs. You may see EGD in offices, schools, hospitals, and public transportation stations.

Example of environmental graphic design:

  • Signage and wayfinding
  • Art installations
  • Interactive media
  • Wall graphics

Illustration for graphic design

Illustrations and graphic designs are two different industries. However, sometimes illustration is needed to support graphic design outputs, and the outputs are used as commercial art. 

Example of illustration for graphic design:

  • Apparel designs
  • Motion graphics
  • Stock images
  • Book covers
  • Technical illustration
  • Concept art

Is It a Good Choice to Become a Graphic Designer?

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People photo created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

Graphic design might be a good career option for creative thinkers who enjoy the combination of art, technology, and communication. If you’re one of the creative thinkers, you might find your opportunity and land a job in the graphic design industry. 

The employment rate in the graphic design industry has been increasing, which means many brands and companies demand graphic designers to fill the vacant positions. This is because the graphic design field offers a decent career prospect, especially if you enjoy creating art and expanding your art styles. When you’ve built your reputation after working with a few clients and companies, then you can be known and get promoted to the next level.

Most importantly, there’s been a rise in technology, so it’s also possible for you to expand your ability in the range of visual-related projects linked to the graphic design industry. For example, you can hone your skill in illustration, animation, and UI/UX design to gain more opportunities in this career path.

Benefits of being a graphic designer

Since you’re interested in starting a career in graphic design, you need to know the benefits of being a graphic designer. 

Although the benefits might vary, depending on the individuals, these are the available perks usually experienced by graphic designers.

Find employment in any industry

As the number of businesses increases, many companies need graphic designers to develop their services or products by producing visual content that accurately represents the brand. Brands also require visual identities, such as logos, colour combinations, and typography. 

Work in multiple environments

Graphic designers can choose to work in any environment they desire. As a graphic designer, you have the chance to decide whether to work as an in-house employee and be exclusive with one client.

You can also join the agency and dedicate your effort to multiple clients and the different preferences, or choose to be a freelancer and have flexible working hours. 

Possible to choose to be a self-employed designer

After spending time in the graphic design industry, you might have a sense of entrepreneurship, thus wishing to build a graphic design company yourself. You can take your interest to the next level and be the leader. 

Wide range of specialisations

The graphic design industry has a wide range of specializations as there are many kinds of outputs. Whether digital or print designs, it’s possible for you to focus on one or few types of graphic designs. This way, you can expand what kind of outputs you can create and see how far your creativity goes. 

It’s a fast-changing industry

It’s a no-brainer that the graphic design industry will always follow the latest trend. Even though you’ll need to stay up-to-date, the chance of you getting bored is low. There are always new challenges to accomplish.

Chance to express yourself

Since graphic design is a form of art, thus the creative workers in that field would have a chance to express themselves. Graphic designers will be able to show their style in the art they create, thus showcasing their talents and uniqueness.

Artsy surroundings

When you become a graphic designer, you will be surrounded by other artists. Being a part of a group filled with creative professionals can inspire you to try more techniques and you can gain more advice on how to execute different styles or ideas. 

Graphic Designers Salaries

Payscale informs that the average salary for a graphic designer in Singapore is S$30,791 per year. However, you can expect to receive more income as your expertise and experience grow.

The graphic design industry also opens career development opportunities. You can either get promoted as a senior graphic designer or an art director by the company you work for.

Steps to become a graphic designer

Study the principles of graphic design

To be a graphic designer, you need to understand the principles of this industry. Understanding factors like lines, color, shape, space, texture, and typography can help you think of the best visual concept to present. 

Moreover, good design isn’t exclusive to aesthetics. It needs to consider many aspects like careful planning as well as applying design theory. Reading books and being keen on learning will help you understand the pillar of graphic design.

Master the element graphic design tools

Mastering graphic design tools will be helpful for you. There are three software that graphic designers mostly use: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Illustrator.

Although graphic designers have their software preferences, being proficient in any of these design software can give you alternate methods to creating a design.

Build your portfolio

If you wish to be a graphic designer, then you need to have a portfolio at hand. Crafting graphic design will show your competence as well as your taste in design.

Building a portfolio is possible even if you never worked as a graphic designer before. Making self-initiated arts or projects can be a great choice. However, you might want to find a real job in the graphic design industry to boost your skill and widen your network.

Enrol in graphic design courses

Joining a graphic design course might be a worthy option. Although it will cost you money, it will develop your skills further and give you more room for creativity. 

To find any courses available, you can browse the internet and check for any online services for you to learn. Another option would be searching for schools within your area that offer design classes.

Enrol in graphic design schools

Enrolling in a school that specializes in graphic design would be another perfect choice for you. Although it will cost you a lot more money and time than joining the courses, it will give you a more comprehensive insight into your graphic design skill.

Self-initiated projects

Self-initiated projects would benefit you in improving your skill. It also shows how much you dedicate to your self-development. Furthermore, you could put your works created for passion projects to enhance your portfolio.

Get an internship job

An internship job would benefit you in getting practical work experience as a graphic designer. You don’t need to be concerned about your salary when you just started an internship job. Focus on the learning process that you get from professional graphic designers in the workplace.

Graphic designers and illustrators: Are they the same?

Graphic design and illustration are two different kinds of industries. Graphic designers will focus on communicating messages through visualization that includes logos, color palettes, and typography while illustrators will only focus on the art itself.

Illustrators are artists who express themselves onto a canvas and it’s open to interpretation. Various forms of illustration, such as drawing, sketches, paintings, and photographs, are graphical representations of the artist’s feelings or interests.

Although these two jobs have different responsibilities, sometimes clients or companies would confuse these industries into the same category. The misconception will negatively affect both illustrators and graphic designers.

The negative impacts could happen because companies or clients could expect graphic designers and illustrators to do both responsibilities. Although many creative workers could do both jobs, some graphic designers may be unable to create an illustration. On some occasions, they would still get paid the same salary by doing two jobs.

To prevent this, you might want to discuss your job requirements before signing the contract. Make sure that the position you are applying for has clear job descriptions. For example, if you want to apply as a graphic designer, make sure that you’re not creating illustrations. 

Job specifications for illustrators will mostly demand you to create animations of various things, such as humans, animals, or fictional characters. This is where graphic designers and illustrators differ from each other. 

What Skills to Have as a graphic designer?

To be an excellent graphic designer, you need to have some critical skills related to this industry. Although it’s clear that you need to create designs that effectively deliver the messages, you still need to have other essential skills.

The related skills needed to thrive in this industry are primarily soft skills. This is due to graphic designers’ jobs that will require teamwork during the design until the delivery process. Here is a list of some skills that you’d benefit from by having:

  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Understanding the current trend, especially within the commercial field
  • Excellent creativity and innovation
  • Ability to efficiently manage time and meet deadlines

Gaining trust from clients, employers, and coworkers is possible if you have these soft skills. That’s where interpersonal communication skills act in your career development as a graphic designer. 

Prevent creativity block and get your inspiration

Have you ever experienced a creativity block? A creativity block means the inability to think of new ideas or concepts and sometimes not being able to execute them. This problem commonly occurred amongst creative workers. Graphic designers aren’t exempted from this barrier.

It’s OK to experience creative blocks as creativity doesn’t magically appear overnight. It would be best if you pushed yourself to be creative through practicing. As the number of experiences grows, your creative skills will follow. 

However, you can prevent the creative block by effectively collecting and jotting down your ideas. You might want to follow your favorite artists on social media and check their art out for inspiration. 

Note that using another artist’s creations as inspiration is different from plagiarism. Never copy another artist’s work. Plagiarism is considered theft; this recklessness will give you a bad reputation.

Another benefit of looking up to your favorite artists is that you could understand the latest trend in the graphic design industry. As this field will require you to stay up-to-date with the current styles, knowing the shift in the audience’s preferences will benefit you. 

In addition, admiring other artists’ works can encourage you to try out a new style that might be suitable for you as an artist.


Finally, as you have learned the guide on becoming a graphic designer, it’s time for a review!

So, graphic designers are artists who deliver messages through visualization that represent a brand or specific concept. Graphic designers use design elements, such as color palettes, typography, and images to support their creation.

The graphic design industry is needed by businesses who wish to gain more awareness from the market audience. Many companies and brands use graphic design as their marketing strategy because sometimes words are not enough. These businesses have to create more engaging content by using a visual approach. This way, the audience can understand information better.

As digital platforms enhance, the graphic design industry expands its scope to this field as well—the enhancement results in the increase of the graphic design industry’s outputs. For example, you might see many businesses opt to create aesthetically driven websites and social media accounts. 

Moreover, it would be a good choice if you wish to be a graphic designer. You might have a wide range of working preferences, whether you want to work as an in-house employee or choose to be a freelance designer who handles many clients.

Honing your design skill might not always be easy. Still, a few learning steps are convenient for you to start your career in the graphic design industry. As an artist, you might benefit from joining the field that gives you creative freedom and expand your knowledge on how to market a product using visual aid. Most importantly, the graphic design industry is always in demand!

So, are you ready to become a graphic designer?

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