A graphic designer or graphic artist conveys information through visual solutions that promote or enhance a service, product, philosophy or entity. Graphic design is a professional umbrella term for a skill set that can be applied to a wide range of positions. A good graphic designer has strong interpersonal and marketing skills, in addition to a keen eye and an adept knowledge of electronic media packages.
Graphic artists work with a variety of materials, including film media, animation, sound, images, illustration, type, color, and “white space.” The first step of any project is to identify the needs of the client. The designer must also consider the target market, taking social or cultural considerations into account. The process normally starts with a hand-drawn or electronic sketch of the layout, followed by a mockup presented for approval. A mockup that is attractive but fails to convey the proper message or serve the needs of the product in some way will be rejected.
In a small “Mom and Pop” business, duties of a graphic designer might be limited to designing flyers, informational pamphlets, product catalogs and advertisements. Creating a distinctive logo would also fall to the graphic designer. A graphic designer in a large company normally meets with department heads or clients to get a complete understanding of the expectations associated with any assigned project. He or she will also commonly consult with printers or publishers to identify the best choice of paper, cover stocks, and printing processes.
Another type of graphic designer known as a webmaster designs websites. This position requires knowledge of scripting languages and an active interest in staying abreast of the newest Web design technologies. In the film industry a graphic designer is responsible for producing opening and closing credits. This position also requires specialized knowledge of industry software packages. Newspapers and magazines also employ graphic artists to layout their publications.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs for graphic designers will steadily grow at the national average through 2014, with Web design an especially strong field. A bachelor’s degree is commonly required for entry-level positions, but an associate’s degree might also be acceptable. In highly technical fields experience might supercede educational requirements, and in all cases a portfolio weighs heavily in the job hiring process.
A graphic designer is a salaried position with normal hours, except in the case of a deadline which might require extended or weekend hours. A new graphic designer receives on-the-job training for the first 12 – 36 months, after which advanced positions might be attainable. Salaries vary widely from about $25,000 US Dollars (USD) annually for an entry level position, to $90,000 for experienced graphic designers working at high-profile advertising firms. The average salary for a graphic designer is about $40,000 in the U.S. Many graphic artists also work as independent contractors.
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