What Is a Graphic Designer?

This is probably not something you’ve lain awake pondering (unless you’re a graphic designer yourself: hi!), but what, exactly, is a graphic designer? Is a graphic designer a fancy word for an artist? Are we just typography geeks and colour nerds? Do we have training?

“What does a graphic designer do?”

Graphic designers take strategies, concepts, words, sounds, and experiences and translate them into visual messages.

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It’s about understanding the customer you’re trying to attract and the business you’re selling and making sure the two fit together.

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Even though we’re called “graphic” designers, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll forsake the word to use only images. I’ll use whichever one I feel will communicate the message most effectively and immediately.

Designer Mark Busse says,

“Our professional practice revolves around a message-driven design discipline that involves research, learning, concept development, structuring and presentation of messages designed to facilitate better understanding within an audience.”

Which is an accurate list of what goes into crafting any design piece.

What do we do? We make your message attractive to your customers.

“So you’re an artist?”

Do we do art? Yes. Are we artists? No. Artists create to make people feel or to share pieces of themselves. Designers create to communicate a message. Graphic designers use art as part of their arsenal, but not to the same purposes.

“So what ARE you then?”

We’re creative geniuses and problem-solving monsters. We’re typography geeks and colour nerds and line lovers. We adore negative space as much as positive spaces and look for subliminal (or clever) messages from other designers. We’re the weirdos who fast-forward through television shows for the commercials, and get excited when we some big company reveals their new logo.

Most of us have training of some form or another (I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and a Diploma of Design, as well as various courses in art, not quite adding up to any kind of designation).

There’s a movement within the design community to forego “graphic” in our titles for a more accurate “communication”, defining it like so:

“Communication design is a message-driven design discipline that involves the structuring and presentation of verbal and visual content to enable better understanding among people.” (Errol Saldanha)

Whatever we call ourselves, we’re interested in communicating your message to your customers.

Let me help you reach your customers.

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