A company’s communication (branding, imagery, packaging, etc) lies at the heart of a graphic designer. While your duties may involve extensive work with images, unlike artists they do not produce “art for art’s sake.”
A graphic designer must get across a specific message and call-to-action or emotion based on the company’s objectives. For instance, a graphic designer may be tasked with creating a brand or logo that makes a lasting impression on consumers, incorporating a unique shape, color, and layout.
How to Become a Graphic Designer
Find out what kind of training you need to have, and discover what you’re going to have to do in your job.
If you’ve ever spent time online you know that some websites look great and inviting, while others look drab and unappealing. Often, that’s because the great-looking websites feature fantastic graphics, and those are the creations of computer graphics designers. Much like illustrators are responsible for the drawings and illustrations in books and graphic novels, today’s computer graphics designers are responsible for the graphics found in websites, ebooks, retailer platforms, and interactive magazines.
In many magazines and newspapers today, computer graphics designers are also responsible for the images on their pages. However, some classify these jobs as desktop publishing.
What Does a Computer Graphics Designer Do?
Just as a painter used paints to create their artwork on paper and canvas, computer graphics designers use computer software applications to create their graphics and images.
Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers.
When you’re a computer graphics designer, you can get into many specific types of niches. You can be a web designer, responsible for the look of the whole website. You may be an animator or an interactive graphics artist. Perhaps you can specialize in retail display. You can even be an instructor teaching students about computer graphics design.
In general, most employers will check if you have at least a 4-year bachelor’s degree in computer graphics design. This is a degree that’s offered in numerous colleges and universities in the US and around the world, and you can also find design schools that offer this program.
More specifically, employers may want to see that you’ve taken up certain subjects such as graphic design, logo design, and multimedia design. You should have also covered topics such as animation and drafting.
Some employers, however, may allow you to get your foot in the door with just a 2-year degree or certificate in computer graphics design. However, your resume may not be as impressive compared to one with a 4-year bachelor’s degree.
To be a successful computer graphics designer, you need more than just a diploma under your belt. You will have to be very creative while at the same time be analytical as well, and a good problem-solving mindset. You need to have an eye for detail since every little thing can matter such as in logo design, digital design, product design, typography, typefaces, and hand sketching.
With the amount of work that may be required of you with strict deadlines and extremely stringent (or vague) instructions, you also certainly need the ability to work effectively under pressure. Part of the pressure comes from satisfying the aesthetic sensibilities of your superiors and your clients first, and then you need to fulfill the needs of your viewing audience.
You should be very familiar with the various popular graphic design software. These can include the programs from Adobe (such as Photoshop and Illustrator), Indesign, and Autodesk (SketchBook and 3ds Max). You may also want to try out Corel PaintShop Pro, Inkscape, Canva, and Pixlr.
Graphic designers must keep up with new and updated computer graphics and design software, either on their own or through formal software training programs.
In addition, you should know your way around various types of computer hardware such as printers and scanners.
Overall, the demand for computer graphics designers is only expected to rise by 4% from 2016 to 2026. However, your career opportunities as a computer graphics designer depend largely on the industry you’re in.
With the continuing decline in magazine and newspaper publishing these days, the demand for computer graphics designers in the publishing industry is declining. Too many magazines are closing down. That’s why computer graphics designers who work for newspapers, magazines, and books are facing a decline of 14% in job opportunities up to 2026.
Yet the demand is increasing for computer graphics designers who can work in computer systems design. Basically, there’s should be no shortage of opportunities because modern businesses are expected to have websites for either sale or for marketing. The demand for website development continues, and that means there will always be a demand for the services of computer graphics designers.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for computer graphics designers in 2017 was $48,700.
With your familiarity with computer graphics design, you may want to try your hand at becoming a multimedia artist and animator. There’s a projected 8% increase in opportunities from 2016 to 2026 for this job, and the median annual salary in 2017 was $70,530.