8 Types Of Graphic Design Careers To Explore

7 min read

Education & Career Trends: May 2, 2024

Curated by the Knowledge Team of  ICS Career GPS

If you’re thinking about a graphic design career, you have quite a few options available.

  • Excerpts are taken from an article published on forbes.com.

We see graphic design elements on everything from cereal boxes and websites to magazine ads and video games. Nearly all products you purchase and the visual media you consume require some form of graphic design. Wherever you see visual images, you see graphic design.

If you’re thinking about a graphic design career, you have quite a few options available. You could work for a publishing house, an advertising agency, a video game production company, a movie production studio, a private business or in many other environments. In this article, we explore graphic design careers so you know what to expect as you consider career paths in graphic design.

What Is Graphic Design?

The graphic design discipline uses art and technology to create images that communicate ideas. It brings context and emotion to text to make messages clearer and more interesting. Graphic designers use design elements to break up blocks of text, choose typefaces and colours that convey a certain feeling or look, and bring ideas to life with drawings, photos, animations and other images.

The goals of graphic design depend on the context and purpose but may include:

  • Making product packages look attractive enough to compel consumers to purchase them
  • Helping businesses build consistent brand identities
  • Creating realistic and engaging animated worlds in video games or films
  • Drawing in new customers using compelling images
  • Making websites more interesting and easier to read
  • Encouraging readers to open the cover of a book to see what’s inside
  • Displaying statistics and other information in easy-to-understand graphics

Careers in Graphic Design

1. Brand Identity Design

When most people think about graphic design, they immediately associate it with designing logos. However, logo design is only one aspect of a broader specialisation of graphic design which is brand identity.

Beyond logo design, identity designers also create the entire look and feel of a company’s visual presence. As part of this, they create colour palettes, decide on the types of images a company will use, determine the typography, and create other accompanying visual elements.

Brand identity designers are responsible for crafting the visual identity of the companies they work for. Because of this, they’re generally responsible for creating brand style and usage guidelines that direct the work of other designers, including marketing designers and web designers.

Graphic designers specialising in branding work typically work on things like:

  • Brand Strategy
  • Typography
  • Color Palettes
  • Logo Design
  • Business Cards and/or Stationary
  • Icon Systems
  • Brand Guidelines
2. Marketing & Advertising Design

Whether appearing online or in print, marketing and advertising designs are key elements of any company’s promotional strategy.

Since the goal of marketing and advertising is to prompt consumers to make a purchase or sign up for a product or service, graphic designers working in these areas need to have a firm understanding of behavioural psychology when it comes to purchasing behaviour.

Graphic designers specialising in advertising & marketing focus on creating assets such as:

  • Print & Digital Advertisements
  • Social Media Graphics
  • Podcast Cover Art
  • Banners
  • Marketing emails
  • Brochures & Posters
  • Billboards
  • Vehicle wraps
  • Pitch Decks & Presentations
3. Packaging Design
  • Physical products need packaging.
  • Everything from cereal boxes to tags on designer clothing needs to be designed by someone, and that’s where packaging designers come in.
  • These types of graphic designers need to have a strong grasp of branding as well as consumer behavioural psychology to create packages that make customers want to make a purchase.
  • They need to be proficient in colour theory and typography, as well as any laws or regulations about the information that needs to appear on packaging (such as nutrition information).
4. Web & User Interface Design
  • Web and UI designers create designs for websites and apps.
  • They need to have a solid grasp of design principles, as well as an understanding of user experience design and basic coding principles.
  • While web and UI designers may not actually do any coding, understanding the capabilities and limitations of the code that powers websites and apps makes them a more valuable part of any design team.
  • If you’re a graphic designer specialising in web design or user interfaces, you might find yourself working on projects like landing pages, marketing websites, app designs, game interfaces, or WordPress sites.
5. Print & Publication Design

Graphic designers in the print and publication industries need to understand the principles of good design, as well as the technical specifications of creating print-ready files. They also need to have a firm grasp of colour theory and typography, as well as what types of images work best in print vs. digital environments.

Print & publication designers typically have their hands in all sorts of print-related projects such as:

  • Book covers
  • Magazine and newspaper layouts
  • Menu Design
  • Album Covers
  • Merchandise & Apparel
  • Brochures & Flyers
  • Stationery
6. Lettering & Type Design
  • These graphic designers create everything from typefaces and fonts to hand-lettered designs.
  • Type and lettering designers need to have a thorough grasp of typographic principles, what makes a typeface legible, and how concepts like kerning and line height play into a typographic design’s overall readability.
  • Hand-lettering artists often create things like signs, flyers, murals, and even wordmark logos.
  • They may create designs either by hand or digitally.
  • On the other hand, type designers often focus more on creating typefaces.
  • There’s a lot of overlap between what lettering and type designers do.
7. Graphic illustration

When you think about graphic design, you may not immediately think about illustration.

Graphic illustrators are usually tasked with creating illustrations for commercial and editorial purposes, as well as illustrations that live on web designs and social media. These types of graphic designers will often create their illustrations digitally, but some may also use more analogue tools and then digitise their images.

As a professional graphic illustrator, you’ll work on all kinds of imagery spanning the gamut of:

  • Digital Products
  • Blog posts & articles
  • Books & Magazines
  • Games
  • Apparel
8. Data Visualisation & Infographic Designer
  • Data visualisation and infographic designers need to have a solid understanding of how to represent data accurately and in ways that make it easier to understand.
  • Working in this type of graphic design role means you need to understand how to work with large data sets and how to make that information digestible for people who aren’t data scientists.
  • It’s helpful for data visualisation and infographic designers to have at least some background knowledge and experience with data science.
  • The better they understand the data they’re presenting, the more equipped they are to translate that data into easy-to-understand visuals.
  • Infographics and data visualisations may be static or interactive (such as those used in dashboards).

Whether you choose to specialise in a particular type of graphic design or become a jack of all trades, you should keep in mind that those who do have a focused specialisation can often command higher prices and are typically more in demand for the work that they do. Whatever type of design career you choose, remember to build a compelling design portfolio that reflects the type of projects you want to get hired for.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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