|Names||Creative director, art director|
|Advertising, book design, branding, illustration, page layout, typography, webcomic, web design|
|Competencies||Technical knowledge, cultural relevance, art history|
|Production artist, graphic artist, website designer, desktop publishing|
A graphic designer is a professional within the graphic design and graphic arts industry who assembles together images, typography, or motion graphics to create a piece of design. A graphic designer creates the graphics primarily for published, printed, or electronic media, such as brochures (sometimes) and advertising. They are also sometimes responsible for typesetting, illustration, user interfaces, and web design. A core responsibility of the designer's job is to present information in a way that is both accessible and memorable.
The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with North America and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2018)
A Bachelor's degree or certificate from an accredited trade school is usually considered essential for a graphic design position. After a career history has been established, though, the graphic designer's experience and number of years in the business are considered the primary qualifications. A portfolio, which is the primary method for demonstrating these qualifications, is usually required to be shown at job interviews, and is constantly developed throughout a designer's career.
One can obtain an AAS, BA, BFA, BCA, MFA or an MPhil / PhD in graphic design. Degree programs available vary depending upon the institution, although typical U.S. graphic design jobs may require at least some form of degree.
Current graphic designer jobs demand proficiency in one or more graphic design software programs. A common software package used in the graphic design industry is Adobe Creative Cloud. This software package contains the three main programs used by graphic designers, which are Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator are the industry standard applications for many graphic design positions. Another example of a common software package is CorelDraw Graphics Suite.
Outside the graphic design industry, many people use Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher to create a layout or design. However, depending on the job at hand, most designers create the layout in either InDesign, CorelDraw, or QuarkXPress. Specifically, the designer will type or import the text in the layout program, also importing the graphics and images they created in Photoshop or Illustrator. There are a couple of reasons a designer builds a layout in this fashion:
- Files going to press are generally printed at 300 dots per inch. As a result, the file size can become very large, depending upon the photos and graphics used in it. By using a layout program and linking these graphics and images (but not saving all of them in the file itself), the working file is a fraction of the file size. When the designer is ready to go to press, s/he will either create a press-ready PDF; or use the "Package" function in InDesign, or the "Collect For Output" function in QuarkXpress or CorelDRAW (which gathers the layout document, plus all fonts and images used therein, and saves them in one folder which can be provided to a commercial printing company for final output).
- InDesign, CorelDRAW, or QuarkXPress make it possible to work with large multiple page layouts, such as catalogs and booklets.
- Since InDesign, CorelDRAW, and QuarkXPress the original file, linking to the graphics and images, the designer can change the "original file" and it will update all instances throughout the document to save time.
A web designer should understand how to work with XML, HTML, and basic web programming scripts. A print designer should understand the processes involved in printing (including, notably, offset printing) to be able to produce press-ready artwork.
Designers should be able to solve visual communication problems or challenges. In doing so, the designer must identify the communications issue, gather and analyze information related to the issue, and generate potential approaches aimed at solving the problem. Iterative prototyping and user testing can be used to determine the success or failure of a visual solution.[buzzword] Approaches to a communications problem are developed in the context of an audience and a media channel. Graphic designers must understand the social and cultural norms of that audience in order to develop visual solutions[buzzword] that are perceived as relevant, understandable and effective.
Graphic designers should also have a thorough understanding of production and rendering methods. Some of the technologies and methods of production are drawing, offset printing, photography, and time-based and interactive media (film, video, computer multimedia). Frequently, designers are also called upon to manage color in different media.
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