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Graphic Designer

(aka: Graphic Artist, Web Designer, Art Director)

Graphic Design is a field that brings together art and technology, using illustrations, graphics, and design elements to develop an aesthetic that represents a company, person, brand, or product. In short, graphic designers make things look good. It's a skill set that's as sought after as ever, with a design evolution in full swing: it's no coincidence that even conservative companies are showing an open-mindedness to experimenting with new looks and styles, with many experts suggesting that winning the battle for good Design is every bit as important as winning on Product.

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What do Graphic Designers do?

  • Create designs, styles, logos, layouts, and illustrations. Projects may be as small as modifying a website layout, or as comprehensive as a total re-imagination of a company's brand, including new logos, color schemes, and product packaging.
  • Discuss project objectives and scope with clients. A thorough client consultation is an important first step toward a successful design project: objectives and design ideas should be discussed, with time and cost expectations clearly laid out.
  • Solicit client feedback and implement revisions. The design process is iterative: the first version will rarely be the last. Graphic Designers should actively solicit feedback from clients, and integrate requested changes.
  • Write computer code or communicate with programmers. The line between Graphic Designers and Web Designers gets blurrier by the day. Some employers will seek out graphic designers who are able to produce the mark-up (aka computer code) for the designs they produce, while others will merely ask them to coordinate with an established team of developers in order to render an online version.

How much do Graphic Designers make?

Wages in Graphic Design can vary widely, since the title is often used as a general catch-all for roles that span the design spectrum. The median annual wage in 2012 for the job category was $44,200, with the top 10% earning over $77,000. Graphic Designers with programming skills -- sometimes referred to as Web Designers -- often earn over $100,000 annually, as their skill set is in particularly high demand.

How do I become a Graphic Designer?

Education Requirements. The paths to becoming a graphic designer are nearly as varied as the roles available in the field. Many professionals come from traditional artistic backgrounds, with expertise in drawing, photography, and illustration, whereas others approach the field from the technological angle, first developing expertise in programming and computer-aided editing (e.g. Photoshop, Final Cut). Many employers prefer that applicants have a bachelor's degree in a creative field, though it is rarely a formal requirement since good design speaks for itself.

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