Who is a Graphic Artist?
If it only was so easy to define a graphic artist. Some will say you need to be born an artist, that you need an artistic soul, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on a more down-to-earth approach. In short, a graphic artist is a creative person such as an illustrator, photographer or somebody designing typography to list just a few; an artist that works with a visual medium.
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Who is a Graphic Designer?
A graphics designer will most often be a part of a graphic artists group, though not necessarily. Many freelancers are working in this area by themselves. A graphic designer specialises in supplying graphic illustrations for an editorial piece, web developer or advertising, among many others. Your job as a graphic designer is to produce a visual design (a digital one most of the time these days) that conveys a specific message for whatever purpose.
What skills do you need to be a Graphic Designer?
- Soft skills
- Degree (skills confirmation)
Soft skills in graphic design
You would think that there are more important skills to have as a graphic designer. However, this is not always one of those jobs where you sit behind a desk all day and work on your computer. Your task as a graphic designer, especially in a large company, is to communicate the client’s written or spoken message through visual means. That requires you to have well-developed communication skills. It’s not a one-man job so you will also find yourself participating in brainstorm meetings where you and your colleagues will have to agree on the best marketing strategy. You will have to be able to understand the team leader’s vision and confront them if your experience tells you this or that won’t work. And you need to be a team player, so knowing some negotiation skills will come handy when putting your thoughts out there for others to think through.
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Graphic design tools
I could tell you there are plenty of tools that you can use as a graphic designer, but there are only a few that truly count and enable you to create with no limitations. These days, knowing how to use (and use well!) Adobe CS is a must. As a freelancer, you may want to dip into Gimp, Inkspace or Krita freeware software. If you’re looking for a job in a respected Graphic Design company, however, then having InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator listed in your CV is a necessity.
Knowledge of graphic design field
In terms of “know-how”, there are certain things that you need to know by heart and most importantly understand, like typography or branding. However, there are others that you only need to be aware of, like printing technicalities.
Areas of knowledge that every Graphic Designer should be familiar with:
- UI/UX Design
UI/UX design (User Interface/User Experience), typography and basic HTML/CSS knowledge are essential if you are considering working as a graphic designer in web design field. One could argue that you don’t need any coding skills to produce a website, but that is not true. You need to understand if and how a web developer will be able to reproduce your design using programming skills. I would say you can be a graphic artist without this knowledge but to be a good and respected graphic designer you won’t get away from the necessity of understanding HTML and CSS. Studies show that 36% of companies prefer their graphic designers to know HTML. Typography is another of those skills that you need to obtain but we have a separate article that talks about typography in minimalistic design if you’re interested.
When it comes to branding, there are specific guidelines that you need to be aware of. Fortunately, it usually lies within a team leader’s scope to decide what needs to be designed. It is good to have experience in creating a brand for a company. However, in the end, you simply need to produce what the client needs, so most of the time you learn as you go.
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You do not need to know how the printer operates. Frankly, you’re not working at the printer. Regardless of that, you should know how to prepare your design for printing purposes. When applying for a graphic designer position, trust me, you will not get it unless you know what bleed or CMYK is.
Degree for the graphic design industry
We’re living in the era of Skillshare, Treehouse and Udemy online courses as well as YouTube where you can find anything from instructions on how to clean the coffee spill from your carpet to creating a 3D logo for your client. Yet, if you browse available positions on Indeed, Jobsite or especially the Government Find a Job website you will hardly find an offer that does not require an educational background. In fact, in more than 80% of cases, you would not even be invited for an interview unless you have a degree. But then again, you can always become a freelancer and there are plenty of websites like Fiverr or PeoplePerHour where you can advertise your services.
Although it is not easy and takes time to acquire graphic design skills you can do it yourself especially if design is your passion. You can get a degree and end up being a part of a graphic artist team that works for large advertising agencies. You can also be a free spirit working on your own from the comfort of your home. Whichever path you take, remember there are certain skills you need to possess without which you can’t be successful in the field of design.