Career Guide

Graphic Designer

Ben Maples  · Nov 30th 2021

Every company will always need a Graphic Designer. A Graphic Designer is someone who will design company logos, maybe the pictures and graphics for websites or promotional materials.

iPhone on top of a book with pencils, pads, rubber and a pot.

And make no mistake, all companies will at some point need a Graphic Designer, whether it just be designing the logo and nothing else, or everything that they have, a Graphic Designer is always going to find work.

So what does a Graphic Designer do and how does one become a Graphic Designer? Well, we’ve compiled a useful career guide to help you out, so let’s dive in, shall we?

Graphic Designer Career Guide

What is graphic design?

A graphic designer’s work involves creating visual content to communicate feelings, emotion or messages. A design job entails using layout techniques, typography and pictures to create an image that optimises the viewer’s experience. You’ll see these images in a magazine, website or advertisement in everyday life. If something catches your eye visually, it’s most likely down to the graph designer.

What is a graphic designer?

Graphic designers in the UK create images and visual pieces across a range of products and activities. They’ll work in advertising, websites, magazines, posters, displays, packaging, books and computer games. A creative designer should be flexible, innovative and be able to work as part of a team and with other departments.

A graphics designer can be involved in much more than the products or pages themselves; they can work on entire exhibitions, corporate communications and even the organisation’s identity itself and how it’s perceived as a brand.

The graphic design career path enables you to complete design briefs which were agreed with the creative director, client or account holder after you’ve constructed ideas and concepts for their objectives. It requires creative flair, the ability to work to a deadline and knowledge of industry software so you can stay up to date as well as ahead of the curve.

A graphic design job can take you to major cities and towns across the country, from advertising agencies in London or a magazine in Leeds, and even abroad in Japan, USA, and Europe. Most work in a shared studio or in-house and as part of a team, although there may be times where you’ll work alone on a project. Freelancers can be based in a shared office, studio space or work from home - or the local coffee shop if that’s your style.

A graphic designer, like most other fine arts jobs, involves a lot of hard work and you’ll be sitting and working at a computer for most of the work. However, you may be able to break up the day by travelling to meet clients when required.

A junior graphic designer salary is around £15,000 and can be as high as £19,000 for those just starting.

What do graphic designers do?

What does a graphic designer do daily? The graphic designer profile involves meeting clients, creative directors or account managers to discuss the project and what’s needed for the brief. You’ll decide the desired outcome of the piece, the estimated time it’ll take and how much it’ll cost.

A graphic designer role will include you developing design briefs to suit the purpose, produce new ideas and prepare stimulating and interactive concepts. A magazine designer, as an example, will be innovative and may need to change or adapt a brief to deadlines. But a UK graphic design role for a company may be working on the organisation’s visual branding and instead spend long periods on the project.

The creative designer job description extends to working with a range of media, from new and upcoming technologies to computer-aided design (CAD). You’ll also need to check, go over and proofread content before it’s passed on to ensure it’s accurate and high-quality.

Graphic designer responsibilities may also cover commissioning photographers, illustrators and other designers, as well as working as part of a team made up with stylists, web developers, printers, copywriters, photographers and the marketing team. Jobs for graphic designers tend to interest individuals who seek satisfaction and joy from creating substantial and creative pieces of work. If you love designing, building new scenes and telling a story through an image, then it may be the perfect fit.

Graphic Designer Career

What qualifications do you need to be a graphic designer?

Graphic designer qualifications start at GCSE and can be found in A-Levels, Higher National Diplomas, and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Graphic design qualifications needed for a career or entry-level position usually involve visual art courses, but these can be:

  • Film and TV
  • Graphic design
  • Illustration
  • 3D design
  • Fine art
  • Visual art
  • Photography

Any of these courses will offer insight into graphic designer skills you’d use daily on the job, from thinking, planning and framing a brief to understanding how a visual image is broken down. Any course that involves design will offer a foundation of knowledge for art, design, techniques and history.

Graphic designer requirements tend to ask for formal training for anyone who wants to progress throughout their career. Still, it isn’t essential when you’re starting or looking for graphic design work experience. A postgraduate degree is not needed to be a spec designer, but experience beforehand is required. You can either choose to study one of the relevant courses at NHD or undergraduate level to get a good stead on the job market.

Regarding work experience, you can try reaching out to local agencies and showing them your portfolio from previous projects or what you produced at university. You’ll need to learn how to talk about your work confidently and explain the true essence of the piece - as this is what you’ll be doing with clients further down the line.

How to get into the graphic design industry? If you want to work as a graphics artist or are searching for art degree jobs, then this may be an excellent career for you to embark on. First, you can look for gift ‘graphic designer needed’ adverts online, through social media and networking, or read through job profiles on graphic design vacancies.

They could be called various other titles, like logo design jobs or someone may ask to see your designer profile through LinkedIn. Most jobs are found in advertising design agencies, corporate communication and event branding. Still, you can find work in an array of places, including multimedia companies, television, packaging industry, publishers, local government, design groups, computer game companies, and magazines.

A graphic designer’s work involves creating visual content to communicate feelings, emotion or messages.

What skills are useful for a graphic designer?

The graphic design skills employers seek include a flexible approach, excellent communication skills, accuracy and attention to detail. You should be someone passionate, enthusiastic who has a creative flair. They’ll look for an individual with presentation and time management skills, who has the confidence to explain their ideas and concepts.

Also, someone who is open to feedback to ensure the work is to the best of their ability will do well in this career. Being able to negotiate briefs with clients, sell ideas to colleagues and willing to make changes to designs are essential for graphic designers who want to be successful. Having practical networking skills is also helpful if you’re going to build contacts.

Graphic Designer

Can you work as a graphic designer remotely?

If you have the equipment, an internet connection and a place to work, remote working is available for this career - especially if you are self-employed or freelance. However, if a company or agency employs you, you may be expected to go into the office and meet with clients face-to-face. Specific meetings can happen over the phone or a video conference call, but this is dependent on individual circumstances.

What is the graphic designer salary?

A junior graphic designer salary is around £15,000 and can be as high as £19,000 for those just starting. Although after gaining experience, the designer salary can be in the region of £27,000. After a few years of working with a large number of clients and projects, you could earn between £25,000 and £35,000. For creative leads or senior graphic design pay, this increase to be in the range of £35,000 to £55,000, and a creative director can make more than £60,000 per year.

The graphic design salary for a freelancer will vary depending on experience, your track record, recommendations and how many clients you have on your books. Typically you can earn between £200 and £400 per day, however, after time you may be able to expand your skills and staff level and run an agency.

Any course that involves design will offer a foundation of knowledge for art, design, techniques and history.

What are the prospects of a graphic designer?

After securing a job, you’re most likely to start as a junior graphic designer where you’ll develop a reputation and network for a few years. After this, you can apply for a senior position at your firm or agency and can progress you further. In large organisations, you can then be promoted to management and see yourself working as a studio manager or creative director.

Career development can depend on moving around, on widening your experience and on developing more exciting pieces for your portfolio. But you should think about the move before doing so to ensure it has a positive impact on your career.

For those who want to work self-employed, graphic designers tend to become freelance after five to ten years in the field, to gain a good reputation, contacts list and experience. If you achieve chartered status with the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD), you’ll begin working at a specific professional level, which may involve more or more extensive client base.

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