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Graphic Designers

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Graphic Designers

History

Graphic design has been around since shopkeepers started hanging signs to advertise their wares. In the 1700s, merchants eager to make their goods and services recognizable to a largely illiterate population approached artisans. Graphic design will become even more significant as computer technology becomes increasingly available and as more companies realize that a definitive, distinctive logo and product design can make an enormous difference in product sales. Job opportunities should increase during the next few years with even more openings seasonally for such projects as holiday window displays and specialty sales events. Currently, more than a third of all graphic designers are self-employed. This figure is expected to increase in the coming years.

Description of Occupation

Graphic designers plan and create visual arts or designs to help problems. They decide the most effective way of getting a message across in print, electronic, and film media using a variety of methods such as color, type, illustration, photography, animation, and various print and layout techniques. Graphic designers develop the overall layout and production design of magazines, newspapers, journals, corporate reports, and other publications. Graphic designers prepare sketches or layouts—by hand or with the aid of a computer—to illustrate the vision for the design. They select colors, sound, artwork, photography, animation, style of type, and other visual elements for the design. Designers also select the size and arrangement of the different elements on the page or screen. They also may create graphs and charts from data for use in publications, and often consult with copywriters on any text that may accompany the visual part of the design. Designers then present the completed design to their clients or art or creative director for approval.

Working conditions and places of employment vary. Graphic designers employed by large advertising, publishing, or design firms generally work regular hours in well-lighted and comfortable settings. Designers in smaller design consulting firms, or those who freelance, generally work on a contract, or job, basis. They frequently adjust their workday to suit their clients’ schedules and deadlines. Consultants and self-employed designers tend to work longer hours and in smaller, more congested, environments.

Designers may transact business in their own offices or studios or in clients’ offices. Designers who are paid by the assignment are under pressure to please clients and to find new ones in order to maintain a steady income. All designers sometimes face frustration when their designs are rejected or when their work is not as creative as they wish. Graphic designers may work evenings or weekends to meet production schedules, especially in the printing and publishing industries where deadlines are shorter and more frequent.

Qualifications

A bachelor’s degree is required for most entry-level and advanced graphic design positions; although some entry-level technical positions may only require an associate degree. In addition to postsecondary training in graphic design, creativity, and communication and problem-solving skills are crucial. Graphic designers also need to be familiar with computer graphics and design software. A good portfolio—a collection of examples of a person’s best work—often is the deciding factor in getting a job.

Graphic designers must effectively communicate complex subjects to a variety of audiences. Increasingly, clients rely on graphic designers to develop the content and the context of the message in addition to performing technical layout work.

Associate degrees and certificates in graphic design also are available from 2- and 3-year professional schools. These programs usually focus on the technical aspects of graphic design and include very few liberal arts courses. Graduates of 2-year programs normally qualify as assistants to graphic designers or for positions requiring technical skills only. Individuals who wish to pursue a career in graphic design—and who already possess a bachelor’s degree in another field—can complete a 2-year or 3-year program in graphic design to learn the technical requirements.

Increasingly, employers expect new graphic designers to be familiar with computer graphics and design software. Graphic designers must continually keep up to date with the development of new and updated software, usually either on their own or through software training programs.

Graphic designers also must be creative and able to communicate their ideas in writing, visually, and verbally. Beginning graphic designers usually receive on-the-job training and normally

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