What is Graphic Design?

Graphic designers are often referred to as "graphic artists," "visual communicators," or "commercial artists." "Commercial art" is somewhat of a misnomer because the term does not convey the depth and degree of creativity, problem solving and communication skills that are involved in a single piece of "commercial art."

Graphic design is functional — it is usually created for a client who has a marketing communications need. Good graphic design communicates an idea visually, is memorable, eye-catching, and aesthetically pleasing. It is a blend between the science of communication and the creativity of visual art. The difference between a good designer and a great designer lies in his ability to visualize and create something original that has aesthetic and communicative value.

Graphic design is an absolute necessity for successful print communication — it is used to promote identity, services and products. In order to have the ability to successfully sell an idea, great graphic designers are culturally experienced and knowledgeable with a variety of people, lifestyles, emotions, events, etc.

Examples of graphic design can be found almost anywhere — in books, magazines, brochures, menus, flyers, pamphlets, posters, packaging, displays, signage, logos and more. Graphic designers also work on media projects such as web sites, web banner ads, television graphics and film title sequences. In the new media arena, there is currently a high demand for technical artists who understand both code and aesthetics.

Much of graphic design today is created and produced via computer programs like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Illustrator. Consequently, today's graphic designer must possess extensive knowledge of the software being used in the creative process. Surprisingly, being a computer geek is not a required, especially for entry-level positions. Many creative boutiques prefer to hire a graphic designer demonstrating creativity and communication skills rather than a person with advanced technical skills. The justification for this is that it is relatively easy and inexpensive to teach an individual how to use a computer software program. On the other hand, it is nearly impossible to teach someone how to be creative and unique.

Strong creative ability and an thorough understanding of design principles is the minimum requirement for successful graphic designers. There is a resounding difference between a design that simply looks good and a design that is able to communicate and idea to a specific audience. Therein lies the point that graphic designers must also be true intellectual artists, thinking about context and content, rather than just being skilled technicians of art or software.

Also see influential designers.