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What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

Graphic designers are the thinkers & storytellers behind visuals and use a well-developed set of skills to create a stunning end result. Let's take a deeper dive into a "day in the life" of a graphic designer and what they do.

Kristen Vitale May 25, 2021 · 5 min read
Graphic design is all around us. It’s showcased as visuals across multiple different mediums to express a message or tell a story. Liz Meyer, Senior Brand Designer at Creative Market, explains that she likes “to think of Graphic Design as art that analyzes and solves a problem. The first question you ask yourself when being handed a brief or project should always be—what problem am I trying to solve?” To the common person, graphic design is seen as the formation of colors, shapes, textures, and fonts to create a visual. But the individual behind the visual product has a much deeper purpose. Graphic designers are the thinkers & storytellers behind visuals and use a well-developed set of skills and tools to create a stunning end result. Let’s take a deeper dive into a “day in the life” (plus more) of a graphic designer and what they do.

What Do Graphic Designers Do?

Graphic Designers are the creative engine behind brand identity or marketing efforts, making them a vital part of running a successful business. They use colors, textures, photography, fonts, and other various design elements to communicate a message.
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“Graphic Designers that work in-house for a company will spend most of their day working in an Adobe product (Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign) and answering questions regarding task requests. Graphic Designers that work for themselves additionally manage a more involved list of tasks such as keeping strict deadlines, emailing within appropriate timeframes, receiving client feedback and yes, making sure that you are getting paid on-time. Most importantly though, hitting deadlines, and proper communication is a common theme running through all design practices.” —Liz Meyer By using a suite of tools and a particular set of creative skills, graphic designers craft their work into a variety of different projects including logos, websites, advertisements, typography, packaging, and presentations —to name a few. Expert designer Jacob Barry, emphasizes the importance of application when designing a project: “While an artist can create something based on how they feel, a graphic designer needs to understand what other people need and how they will use it. Even though you are creating products, in a way it is also a service”.

What Skills Do Graphic Designers Need?

Regardless if they have a degree in graphic design or if they are self-taught, all graphic designers possess a unique blend of technical, visual, and communication skills. One area of that skill set might outweigh the others depending on the nature of their role. “Graphic designers can have a huge range of skills. No two designers are exactly alike, which makes each one completely unique (and sought after!)” according to Liz Meyer. To give you a more detailed understanding, graphic designers are often skilled in navigating Adobe software such as Indesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop (Technical), and use their artistic eye, visual analysis, and creative nature (Visual) to develop a finished product that will convey a message or uphold a brand’s identity (Communication).
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While many of those skills can be learned, the creative spark is a naturally existing skill for many designers, as explained by Natalia. “In addition to the technical process of design work, there’s creativity. Integration of current trends, color harmony, literacy of work design, and implementation of the brief set by the client make for a successful end product.”

What Tools Do Graphic Designers Use?

Did you ever wonder how graphic designers materialize their creative ideas into a visual masterpiece? With the help of modern-day technology and advanced creative software, turning an idea into a finished product is made possible. Creative Market shop owner of Marsala Digital, explains: “A major component of graphic design is thinking. When you come up with an impressive idea, turning it to a visual material is the easy part. All you have to do is utilize design tools.” Graphic Designers apply a toolbox of essentials to help them bring their designs to life. These include a few basic investments such as a laptop, a hi-resolution desktop monitor, a reliable hard drive, and graphics tablet & stylus. Graphic designers additionally use premium design software. Adobe’s Creative Cloud is the industry standard for design professionals and includes a suite of programs such as InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, AfterEffects – to name a few.
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“The process of creating images would be impossible or, at the very least, extremely challenging without the use of professional design tools. I create my products using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, so graphics software knowledge and technical skills are definitely a must. I’ve found that the best way to truly master any design program is through practicing and experimenting”. —Olga Khomenko

What Does a Career in Graphic Design Entail?

Now that you know the job duties, tools, and skills involved in being a Graphic Designer, you’re probably wondering what career paths are available or what a career in Graphic design entails. As mentioned above, a typical day-to-day may vary across designers depending on their focus, role, company, etc. However, that’s the beauty of this wonderful, multifaceted profession. “Graphic design careers come in all shapes and sizes. If you love typography and logos, you could explore opening your own small branding studio, or working at a top ad agency as a lead designer. If you’re excited about the intersection of illustration and technology, you could be a Creative Director at a startup or freelance as an illustrator for content creation studios”. —Liz Meyer A career in graphic design presents endless opportunities, some of which you’ll see has manifested into opening a shop stocked with uniquely-created, high-quality products here on Creative Market.
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Kristen Vitale
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