Career Development

What Does a Graphic Artist Do?

Find out what a graphic artist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a graphic artist.

Graphic artists are visual communicators. They use a combination of art, design, and technology to create images, symbols, and other visual elements that communicate ideas or messages.

Graphic artists may work on a variety of projects for different clients. Some may focus primarily on print media such as magazines, newspapers, books, etc., while others may specialize in web design or digital media. Regardless of the project at hand, graphic artists must be able to effectively convey their client’s message through visuals alone.

Graphic Artist Job Duties

Graphic artists typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Developing and creating designs for printed materials such as brochures, fliers, business cards, or signs
  • Reviewing clients’ needs and creating effective designs that meet those needs
  • Creating illustrations or drawings used in advertisements, brochures, magazines, product packaging, or other printed materials
  • Identifying and testing new technologies to improve efficiency in creating designs
  • Communicating with clients about their needs and preferences for design projects
  • Designing images for use on websites, in advertisements, on packaging, or in other forms of media
  • Preparing illustrations, sketches, or other drafts of images or designs
  • Creating original artwork using computer software (such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop)
  • Preparing final art for reproduction using computerized equipment such as a computer-to-plate printer

Graphic Artist Salary & Outlook

Graphic artists’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of company or organization they work for.

  • Median Annual Salary: $44,500 ($21.39/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $80,500 ($38.7/hour)

The employment of graphic artists is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Graphic artists will be needed to create visual elements for a variety of media, including websites, advertisements, and product labels. However, automation may limit the number of jobs available for graphic artists. Software that allows computers to generate graphics and typefaces may reduce the need for graphic artists in some fields.

Related: In-Depth Graphic Artist Salary Guide

Graphic Artist Job Requirements

A graphic artist typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Graphic artists are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, graphic design, computer graphics or a related field. Some of the classes you can expect to take in these programs include computer-aided design, color theory, illustration, typography and art history.

Many graphic artists also have an associate’s degree or a certificate in computer graphics or another related field.

Training & Experience: Many graphic artists receive on-the-job training from their current or previous employers. This training can last for a few weeks to a few months and may include learning the company’s workflow, computer programs and design style.

Certifications & Licenses: Graphic artists do not need a license or certification to get a job. However, certification can show a potential employer that you have the necessary skills and dedication to be a valuable employee.

Graphic Artist Skills

Graphic artists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Creativity: Creativity is the ability to generate new ideas and solutions. This is an important skill for graphic artists because it allows them to create unique designs and artwork. Creativity can also help them develop new ideas for marketing campaigns and other business needs.

Communication: Communication is another skill that can be helpful for graphic artists to have, as they often need to communicate with clients and other team members. This can include written communication, such as emails, as well as verbal communication, such as phone calls or in-person meetings. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively can help you to work more efficiently and build stronger relationships with others.

Computer-aided design (CAD) software skills: Many graphic artists use CAD software to create digital images and illustrations. This software allows them to create complex images and designs that might be difficult to create with traditional art tools. Having a basic understanding of how to use CAD software can help a graphic artist develop their skills and advance in their career.

Typography: Typography is the practice of arranging and designing text. It’s important for graphic artists to understand the different styles of typography and how to use them to create appealing and readable designs. This includes understanding the different fonts available and how to combine them to create a cohesive design.

Color theory: Color theory is the ability to understand how colors interact with each other. This is important for graphic artists because they use color to convey messages and create visual interest. Understanding how colors work together can help them create more visually appealing designs.

Graphic Artist Work Environment

Graphic artists work in a variety of settings, including advertising agencies, design firms, publishing companies, and corporate marketing departments. They usually work regular hours, although they may need to work overtime to meet deadlines. Graphic artists typically work on several projects at once and must be able to juggle multiple deadlines. They often work closely with art directors, copywriters, and other creative professionals. Graphic artists use a variety of computer software programs to create their designs, and they must be proficient in these programs to be successful in their field.

Graphic Artist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how graphic artists work. Graphic artists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Rise of Virtual Reality

The rise of virtual reality (VR) is having a major impact on the graphic arts industry. As VR becomes more popular, businesses will need to hire professionals who can create content for this new medium.

Graphic artists who are able to create VR content will be in high demand, as they will be able to help businesses create immersive experiences that appeal to customers. In addition, graphic artists who are familiar with VR can also help businesses develop marketing campaigns that take advantage of this new technology.

More Collaboration Between Design and Development Teams

As design and development teams become more collaborative, graphic artists will need to learn new skills in order to stay competitive.

This trend is being driven by the increasing importance of user experience in business. As users become more discerning, businesses are looking for ways to improve the user experience through better design. This means that graphic artists will need to be able to work closely with developers in order to create products that meet the needs of both parties.

A Greater Focus on Branding

Branding has always been important for businesses, but it is becoming even more so in today’s economy. As consumers are increasingly bombarded with advertisements, they are turning to brands they trust for information about products and services.

This trend is leading to an increased focus on branding among businesses, which is where graphic artists come in. Graphic artists are essential in creating visual representations of brands that resonate with customers. They can do this by designing logos, packaging, and other promotional materials.

How to Become a Graphic Artist

A graphic artist’s career path can be very rewarding, but it’s important to consider the many different options available. You could specialize in a particular area, such as web design or print advertising. Or you could choose to become a generalist and work in many different areas of graphic design.

No matter which direction you choose, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies. Read industry blogs and attend workshops and conferences to learn new techniques and methods. Network with other designers and professionals in related fields to expand your knowledge and contacts.

Related: How to Write a Graphic Artist Resume

Advancement Prospects

Graphic artists may advance to more responsible positions, such as lead artist or art director. Some graphic artists become independent contractors, working directly for clients. Many graphic artists eventually move into management, becoming art directors, creative directors, or product development managers. Some open their own design studios.

Many graphic artists receive on-the-job training from more experienced colleagues. Some learn informally by working with other artists and designers and by studying art and design on their own. Many graphic artists take courses or earn a degree in graphic design or a related field to improve their skills.

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