what is a graphic designer


For those of you who have no idea what a graphic designer is or some of the struggles we face in design, I'm about to tell you. Plus, you'll learn a little bit more about me and how I got where I am today.

In the 10th grade I attended a Business Seminar that would change my life. I met a graphic designer making posters and brochures for a television company. Not knowing exactly what one was, but knowing it involved art and computers, I decided that career was for me. I even decided I would one day own a greeting card business called Muffin Inc.

So what exactly is Graphic Design?
Well, it’s a broad spectrum and involves some of these things:

• visual communication by a skillful combination of text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, books, etc.

• Art which designed for commercial purposes. Such as: Letterheads, packaging, posters, advertisements, and brochures.

• websites, dvd menus, billboards, wedding and graduation announcements, logos, magazine layouts.

G.D. {graphic design} is all about using the basic principles you learn in school over and over again to create multiple works of art in various formats. That’s what’s so great about design, is that you can apply the same necessary skills toward everything that you do. Design is all about layout. How does it look and feel. Is it balanced? Do you have a focal point?

I found myself designing wedding invitations and graduation and baby announcements. I also got into package design and designed gift card tins with some fun patterns. I never considered myself an illustrator. But after working with a company for over a year doing that very thing, I now love pattern design.

For some graphic design comes more naturally, but for me, it didn't, I really have to work at it. It takes a lot of creativity. I am always learning more and more things that I never knew before.

What kind of schooling will you need?
You will need a Bachelor's Degree in G.D. The first two years will be fulfilling all of your General Education classes {unless you attend an art school}, like Math, English, Reading, History, Psychology, etc. Plus one or two studio classes each semester. Studio classes are at least 1.5 hours long and are focused on art! I took classes like watercolor, figure drawing, basic drawing, pottery, color and design, photography, bookmaking, identity design and conceptual design. {that's just to name a few.} My favorite classes were bookmaking and letterpress.

Who will Hire me?
When it comes to working as a G.D., there are many people that will hire you. Right now the “HOT” thing is web design and I have a feeling that is going to be that way for a while.

There are in-house designers, which usually have better benefits, such as insurance and retirement plans. An in-house designer means someone who is working in-house. {For example, I could go to Minnesota and work for Target. I would only design things for Target, no one else.}

You many also choose to work for a design firm. A design firm works with many different clients designing such things as logo design, web design and packaging. Some times for big time companies, like Microsoft, Wal-Mart or even Disney.

If going into the marketing and advertising side of design you could choose to work at an ad agency. An ad agency is another place to let your creativity out even more.

You may also choose to do freelance design. A freelancer is someone who works from home and gets work contracted to them. For instance, I am a freelancer and have been contracted to do work for Better Homes and Gardens. I get paid a certain $Dollar$ amount per hour and have to send out invoices of my work. I also have to pay all my own taxes. Which kind of stinks, but it's worth it to work from home and have time to spend with my daughter.

How much will you make?
When you first get out of school you’re looking at making anywhere from $28,000-$32,000 a year. For the first 2-5 years, you will be known as a junior designer, but you can quickly move up in the career ladder {especially if you're good} and get the title as senior designer, which make a lot more.

What is the hardest part of being a designer?
The hardest part of being a designer is staying creative and on top of what is hot in design. Design is always changing. Have you ever noticed when your favorite cereal box changes it's packaging? Why is that? It’s because they’re trying to stay on top of the design trends. Trends change and they change frequently.

There are days when I just can’t design. So what do I do? I read. I look at other designers work to get ideas. I may go to Barnes & Noble and read through their design books, or I may just take a break from design on the computer and do something else that is creative. I may choose to bake some chocolate chip cookies or sew an apron.

What is the most enjoyable part of being a designer?
The most enjoyable part of my career is knowing that I am making the world a more beautiful place and solving problems. That’s what design is. Beautiful Garbage. I am taking something ugly and turning it into something usable. If you have a good logo with a beautifully designed business card you’re going to get more business. Same, as if you have good advertising for something. Design helps out so many people with so many things. I like knowing that I can design something and help someone out.

What are some necessary skills that all G.D. should have?
Be a good problem solver. You always have to be thinking outside of the box. If it won't work this way, how can I do it another way.

Must be a hard worker. Growing up on a dairy farm taught me to be a hard worker, to be persistent, and never give up. I often wanted to give up on something I was designing because it just didn't look right, and I didn't know why. But there are other designers who can help you. I would ask my teachers or even my husband {who just happens to be a G.D. as well.}

Be creative. Find ways to let your creativity shine every day. Whether it's making a collage in your notebook, painting a picture, or just cooking something, it's a creation. I try to create something every day. It keeps me sane.

And last, but not least, remember that the computer is just a tool. A G.D. should sketch out their ideas on paper first and then just use the computer to accomplish their tasks and designs.

I hope that this small job description has been of some assistance. I wish I would have know more what I was getting into when I got into design. But, I would never go back. I love design and I love being a G.D. It's challenging, but fun and exciting all at the same time.

Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions about being a designer.


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Heather said...

What a great post! A lot of people don't understand what an art director/graphic designer "does". I'll have to send them to this post next time someone asks!