Graphic designers, also referred to as graphic artists, use a variety of tools and visual elements such as color, type fonts, illustration, photography, animation and layout techniques to create the “personality” of a product or company through media and electronic media. Do you have what it takes to become a graphic designer?
In the past, graphic design was associated primarily with illustration tools such as pens and drafting tables, but the graphic designers of today and tomorrow need to be fully versed in the use of computers graphics and design software. Because of the pervasive use of computers in the creation of graphic art, a degree in some aspect of computer studies, particularly computer graphics, can prove a useful pathway when becoming a graphic artist.
A bachelor’s degree in fine arts is usually the minimum requirement for an entry-level graphic design position, but more arts and design degree programs are developing every day to specialize the subject matter for a student who wants to become a graphic designer. Associate degrees and certificates in graphic design are also available from numerous schools, focusing on the basic and essential technical aspects of graphic design.
The primary goal of the graphic designer or graphic artist is to create a unique and visually appealing layout that works in the service of the specific message the organization wishes to impart. The graphic artist’s effort to achieve this goal involves several activities, including the following:
Graphic artists often work under the direction of an art director, especially in larger organizations. To become a graphic designer who creates web pages or other interactive media, knowledge of design software is a must; it increases the range of choice while keeping design costs to a minimum.
Just as technology can be defined as applied science, graphic design can be considered applied art, or art elements arranged for a specific purpose. Because of this, the graphic artist or graphic designer must have one foot in the world of art and the other placed firmly in the world of business, communications and computer science.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for a graphic designer in 2006 was about $39,000. This figure is expected to rise by about 10 to 20 percent during the next few years, however, depending on the qualifications and relevant job experience of the graphic artist. Since nearly one-third of graphic designers are freelancers, earnings for the graphic artist working on a contract basis can be much higher potentially than those working full time in a business setting.
Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in arts and design and knowledge of computer design software, particularly those with website design and animation experience, will have the best opportunities for employment.