How Graphic Designers Communicate Ideas
We want our logo to be fun and exciting… Our new menus need to have a touch of class… The book cover has to show readers that the main character is torn between two options…
These fictional requests from clients illustrate the different types of ideas graphic designers are asked to convey. There are many ways those in the field translate messages into images. It’s an art and a science.
While a graphic designer is usually working within the confines of a client’s requests, there are certain concepts that remain constant.
Colors and Fonts
Colors, for example, have their own unique meanings and connotations. Green: calm. Red: urgency. Blue: trust. And so forth.
Similarly, fonts have their own personalities and connotations. While they typically don’t elicit emotional responses as well as colors, fonts do help people get a sense of the idea attempting to be expressed. Just look at the fonts used in a wedding invitation versus the logo for Mountain Dew. (Not to mention the hatred for comic sans.)
These are two basic considerations for any graphic designer working on a project. They must take into account a client’s desires, the nature of the piece and the ultimate message in order to begin creating the design.
Messages and Meaning
Among the questions a graphic designer working on a project has to identify is: What is this trying to say?
The answer to that question will help guide the process—whether the graphic designer is working on a logo, poster, billboard or business card. Each type of project, even if they are being created for the same client, will have different emphases.
A logo may have to be more visually striking and include the company’s initials. A brochure could be more text heavy and rely on tactical use of white space.
Every project is different, and graphic designers have to be able to communicate with clients and understand how the item(s) will be consumed.
Once a graphic designer has a sense of the general theme and design, it’s time to put those ideas together and create the project.
This is where creativity makes its mark.
Graphic designers use their artistic talents—and input from clients—to visually communicate ideas and concepts. The design elements may change as the project moves forward, and modern software helps those in the field make alterations and offer the client options.
The layout could need a tweak; colors or hues may need changing; perhaps the client wants a more modern feel. These are among the areas where an artistic sensibility is required.
Skills for Graphic Designers
Turning your creativity into a career means getting the right training and experience.
Developing the applicable skills is paramount for graphic designers who want to accurately and creatively communicate ideas and concepts.
- Technology: You’ll need to be able to use the latest graphic design software, including Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Flash and others.
- Communication: Graphic designers must have the ability to take direction, work in a team setting and turn verbal or written instructions into visual messaging.
- Artistic talent: You must be able to think creatively, develop your innate artistic talent and put it to use in the field.
- In the know: A successful graphic designer is aware of industry trends and what makes an image or design resonate with people.
Careers in Graphic Design
Graphic designers are typically employed at design-service firms or publishing houses, or in advertising, public relations and related industries.
A degree is usually required to get a job as a graphic designer, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which notes that in 2012 about 24 percent of graphic designers were self-employed.
Combining art and technology, graphic designers help develop and create:
- Graphics for products
- Business cards
- Book covers
The bottom 10 percent of graphic designers earned less than $26,250 annually in 2012, while the top 10 percent had a salary of more than $77,490, according to the BLS. The median pay was $44,150.
As for the work in the graphic design field, an article from the American Institute of Graphic Arts sums it up well: “From humble things like gum wrappers to huge things like billboards to the T-shirt you’re wearing, graphic design informs, persuades, organizes, stimulates, locates, identifies, attracts attention and provides pleasure.”