Graphic designers are responsible for nearly every image we see in print publications, online media, advertisements, and commercials. Most professionally produced videos and images are born of art created by an expert in graphic design. Graphic designers create logos, posters, product labels, movie and game art, special effects and more. Because the job of graphic designers is so broad and because there are so many types of graphic designs to be created, the jobs for graphic designers are plentiful.
Graphic design can be broken into many categories, but to keep it simple there are four major types of graphic designers. Within these four categories are many more specific types of graphic designers who specialize in certain aspects of design. There are also four basic levels of graphic design that are significant when discussing the types of graphic designers.
Note: Many types of graphic design jobs are filled by a single graphic designer. For companies that use print and digital media to advertise, graphic design employees are often tasked with both roles.
Graphic Design Levels
To truly understand the types of graphic design, it is important to know that there are professional levels within the ‘graphic design’ world. The four levels of graphic design are used to describe the experience, or level of expertise, of a given graphic designer.
#1: Entry-Level Designers are new to the graphic design business. They may be building their portfolio or recent graduates from a graphic design college. Interns with a degree and professionals with little experience are considered ‘entry-level’ graphic designers.
#2: Mid-Level Designers have a bit more experience and have a good portfolio to show for it. Employers trust them with marketing and advertising, logos, and other print or digital media. Mid-level designers are often given creative freedom to help build a company’s brand or public image.
#3: Senior-Level Designers have vast experience in graphic design. As such, they manage other designers beneath their experience level. However, senior-level designers spend much of their time doing the same things that a mid-level designer will do. (They usually get paid a little more for their expertise.)
#4: Art Directors are considered to sit at the top of their profession. These graphic designers are responsible for coordinating the work of all other designers at a company or firm. Art director are usually employed by bigger companies to manage the design and marketing department. Because their role involves much more management, they spend less time actually working on designs.
Types of Graphic Designers
Printed media is anything that will be printed and includes product labels, newspaper and magazine spreads, billboard advertisements, street signs, and other types of print media. In recent years, the jobs for these types of graphic designers have converged or must coordinate with digital media tasks. Print designers must be versatile enough to do both print and digital graphic designs.
Logos, Marketing, and Branding
Marketing and branding is a type of graphic design that is very important to most companies. For this reason, most marketing and branding designers are mid- to senior-level graphic designers. The job of this type of graphic designer is to create advertising and marketing that sets the ‘theme’ of a given company. The consumer will form his or her opinion of a company based on the work done by these designers. Logo design is essential for any business. This is the one thing that will serve as a signature for the company, so a lot of time and effort goes into creating a logo.
Publication designers are responsible for the organization, flow, and aesthetics of printed magazines, newspapers, newsletters, brochures, and other types of print media. (Brochures may also be designed by marketing designers.)
It’s a good bet that nearly all packages in the room with you right now were designed by a graphic designer. From soda bottles to DVD movie covers, a packaging designer is responsible for the graphics printed on the package.
Web Designers and End-User Experience (Digital Design)
While ‘web design’ is an industry in and of itself, many firms and companies will hire a web/graphic designer to handle front-end web designs. These are the types of graphic designers that determine and digitally design the appearance of a web page. All websites have some sort of graphic design involved and most of that work is completed, from scratch, by a graphic designer.
Back-end web design may also be completed by a graphic designer who is good with coding and programming. While design and coding seem to be opposite on the creative spectrum, many successful graphic designers can accomplish both tasks.
Within the realm of ‘web design’ is another type of graphic designer that creates the interactive components of a website. This includes contact forms, surveys, videos, and other media with which the user can interact on a website.