The Calculated Creative

What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

The work of a graphic designer brings visual concepts to life across many formats and contexts while connecting with audiences.

A graphic designer is a creative professional who combines art and technology to communicate ideas through visual content. Their work involves creating the overall look, feel, and layout of materials ranging from print publications to digital media.

Develop Overall Visual Design and Layout

Graphic designers are responsible for conceptualizing and designing the overall visual layouts and aesthetics for a wide variety of materials and mediums. This includes things like:

  • Designing the overall layouts for magazines, newspapers, journals, and other publications. They decide how text, images, headers, sidebars, etc. will be arranged and positioned.
  • Creating layouts and visual interfaces for websites, mobile apps, and other digital products. They determine the sizing, spacing, and placement of navigation menus, buttons, text, graphics, etc.
  • Designing packaging for products. They conceptualize the arrangement of graphic elements on product packaging to make it visually appealing.
  • Planning signage, billboards, banners, and other environmental designs. They consider placement, sizing, lighting, materials, and other factors.
  • Conceptualizing the look and layout for branding and marketing materials like brochures, flyers, postcards, and ads.

Graphic designers bring all the visual elements together into an aesthetically pleasing, on-brand, and engaging layout tailored for the medium.

Create Graphics and Visuals

Graphic designers utilize tools and technology to craft custom graphic elements and visuals from scratch. This creative work can involve:

  • Designing logos, icons, and branding assets that identify and represent a company or product. This requires creative thinking to develop meaningful visual symbols and styles that captures the brand identity and values.
  • Creating info-graphics, charts, diagrams, and other data visualizations that present complex information in clear, visual ways. The graphic designer focuses on organizing the data logically and making it visually interesting.
  • Developing illustrations, animations, and other custom graphical content to help explain concepts, tell stories, or add visual flair. This can be done by hand or with digital illustration tools.
  • Retouching, editing, and enhancing photos through digital manipulation to achieve the desired look and feel. The designer may alter color, lighting, contrast, or composition.
  • Building 3D models and environments if working on projects involving 3D, VR, or AR technologies. The designer utilizes 3D modeling and animation skills.

Ensure Visual Consistency

Graphic designers also play an important role in maintaining brand consistency across different mediums and contexts. This involves things like:

  • Creating style guidelines and visual rulebooks that specify standards for logo usage, color schemes, typography, graphic elements, layout principles, and more.
  • Ensuring marketing, communications, and other collateral follow the brand guidelines for fonts, tone, imagery, etc. to maintain consistency.
  • Providing graphical templates, assets, stickers, and design packs to internal teams and external partners to facilitate on-brand content creation.
  • Giving final approval for designs across departments to confirm alignment with brand aesthetics and style.
  • Modifying existing visual assets to work across different contexts like print, digital, merchandising, etc. while retaining brand consistency.

Choose Mediums and Materials

Graphic designers also consider the best mediums and physical materials to use based on the needs and constraints of the project. This expertise involves:

  • Identifying the appropriate mediums for the design such as digital, print, packaging, signage, merchandising, etc.
  • Recommending ideal materials including types of paper, inks, cardboard, metal, fabric, etc. based on durability, appearance, costs and sustainability factors.
  • Considering finishing and production details like varnishes, embossing, foil stamping, die cutting, and binding methods.
  • Advising on special treatments like thermography, spot gloss, and neon that can enhance the design aesthetics.
  • Ensuring the selected mediums and materials align with budget realities and production feasibility.

Graphic design is a continuously evolving field. Designers must stay updated on the latest software, techniques, styles, and emerging technologies including:

  • Learning new design software and tools as they are released to expand their capabilities and efficiency.
  • Researching current design trends across different industries and markets to incorporate tastefully into their work.
  • Experimenting with new styles like 3D modeling, kinetic designs, responsiveness, generative graphics, etc.
  • Exploring how emerging technologies like AR/VR can open new creative possibilities for engaging users.
  • Staying on top of innovations in printing, materials, displays, and other mediums to push boundaries.
  • Continuously developing their skills in areas like typography, color, layout, composition, and more through practice and exploration.

The Takeaway

Graphic designers handle a wide range of creative, technical and strategic roles.

Their multifaceted work brings visual concepts to life across many formats and contexts while connecting with audiences.

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