What Is a Graphic Artist And What Do They Do?

Welcome to the exciting world of graphic artists! In this digital age, visual expression is more important than ever, and these talented professionals play a crucial role in shaping our perceptions through visuals.

If you’ve ever been curious about how their work impacts various industries – from advertising and marketing to publishing – then you’re in the right place! Dive into this comprehensive blog post to explore the fascinating realm of graphic artists, learn what sets them apart from graphic designers, and discover if a career path in creative arts might just be perfect for you.

Key Takeaways

  • A graphic artist is a professional who creates visual material for traditional and digital media using artistic principles and digital technology, with a focus on communicating emotions through their work.
  • Graphic artists differ from graphic designers in that they primarily create visual concepts using traditional and digital media rather than combining text-based and visual content to solve clients’ problems.
  • There are various types of graphic artists, including freelance designers, visual merchandisers, web graphic designers, and production artists. Each requires specific skills and educational requirements but shares the common goal of producing compelling designs that convey messages effectively.
  • Aspiring graphic artists should hone their skills in communication, creativity, time management, technical expertise while continuing education in industry software tools to remain competitive in the job market.

What Is A Graphic Artist?

A graphic artist is a professional who creates visual material for traditional and digital media using artistic principles and digital technology.

Definition And Roles

A graphic artist is a creative professional who specializes in creating visual material to communicate emotions, stories, and messages using traditional and digital media.

They employ artistic principles such as color theory, typography, and composition to create visually appealing designs that evoke feelings or convey ideas.

The role of a graphic artist can vary depending on the project they are working on; however, their primary responsibility is always centered around generating visually captivating content.

This may involve collaborating with clients to understand their vision and goals before turning it into tangible artwork or working independently on personal projects. Graphic artists must be skilled at using different tools and techniques to produce high-quality illustrations that can be tailored across diverse mediums – from hand-drawn sketches to intricate digital renderings.

Graphic Artist Vs. Graphic Designer

Graphic artists focus on creating visual concepts using traditional and digital media, while graphic designers are responsible for combining text-based and visual content to solve clients’ problems.

Differences In Responsibilities

Understanding the differences in responsibilities between graphic artists and graphic designers is crucial for aspiring beginners in the design field. In this section, we will outline these distinctions in a concise manner.

Graphic ArtistsGraphic Designers
Focus on creating visual material to convey emotions, stories, and messages.Combine visual and text-based content to meet clients’ needs and solve problems.
Create a variety of visual content, including book covers, art for advertisements, and illustrations.Create various designs, such as flyers, branding guidelines, and marketing materials.
More focused on communicating emotions through their work.Primarily use design principles to create visually appealing and functional designs.
May work independently or as part of a team, often in fine arts or illustration settings.Work in creative teams in various industries, such as advertising, marketing, and communications.

By recognizing these key distinctions, beginner designers can better determine which career path suits their interests, skills, and goals, ultimately leading them to success in their chosen field.

Skills And Educational Requirements

Graphic artists and graphic designers have unique skill sets and educational requirements, making each career path distinct. While many graphic artists possess a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related arts field, some may enhance their skills through courses focusing on fine and digital art. To help beginner designers understand these differences, we’ve created a table outlining the various skills and educational requirements for each role.

RoleSkillsEducational Requirements
Graphic Artist– Creativity and artistic ability
– Understanding of color theory, typography, and layout design
– Proficiency in design software and digital tools
– Strong communication and presentation skills
– Time management and organization
– Bachelor’s degree in art, graphic design, or a related field (optional)
– Courses or certifications in fine and digital arts
– A strong portfolio showcasing skills and talents
Graphic Designer– Creativity and problem-solving ability
– Visual communication and layout design
– Proficiency in design software and tools
– Strong communication and collaboration skills
– Time management and organization
– Bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field
– Courses or certifications in design software and tools
– A strong portfolio showcasing skills and talents

As a beginner designer, it’s essential to determine which career path best suits your passions and strengths. Continual education and staying updated with industry software and trends are necessary for graphic artists and designers to remain competitive in the job market.

Types Of Graphic Artists

There are various types of graphic artists, including freelance designers, visual merchandisers, web graphic designers, and production artists.

Freelance Designer

Another option for graphic artists is to work as a freelance designer. Freelancers typically have more control over their schedules and the projects they take on, but there may be fluctuations in earnings due to the project-based nature of their work.

One advantage of freelancing is the ability to build a diverse portfolio by working with various clients across different industries. However, freelancers must also manage their own business affairs, including finding new clients, negotiating rates, and managing finances.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers earned an average annual salary of $52,110 in May 2020. Freelance designers can earn anywhere from $15-$150 per hour depending on experience and project scope.

Glassdoor reports that freelance graphic designers earn an average hourly rate of $30/hour in the United States.

Visual Merchandiser

One type of graphic artist that focuses on the retail industry is a visual merchandiser. They are responsible for creating visually appealing displays to showcase products and attract customers in stores.

They also collaborate with buyers and marketing teams to plan promotional events and sales campaigns. A successful visual merchandiser must have strong communication skills to effectively convey their ideas to others while keeping up-to-date with industry trends and consumer behavior.

Web Graphic Designer

Web graphic designers are responsible for creating visual content for websites and digital media. They combine their knowledge of design principles with their technical skills to produce engaging, user-friendly designs that meet clients’ needs.

This may include designing website layouts, logos, banners, buttons, and other visual elements.

To become a web graphic designer, it is important to have a solid foundation in design principles and computer software such as Adobe Creative Suite‘s Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Animate or After Effects Illustrator or InDesign which are commonly used in the industry.

Knowledge of responsive design principles is also essential since more people access websites on mobile devices than desktop computers these days.

Production Artist

Production artists are graphic artists who specialize in creating final designs for printing or publication. They ensure that the designs are print-ready and meet industry standards.

Their responsibilities include managing and organizing files, preparing proofs, and working with printers or publishers to guarantee high-quality outputs. Production artists must have strong technical skills as they work extensively with software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to produce stunning printed materials like book covers, storyboards, posters, magazine layouts, backdrops for advertisements among others.

To succeed in a career as a production artist, one should be highly organized with exceptional attention to detail and excellent problem-solving skills. A degree in graphic design or related fields allows one to acquire the necessary knowledge required to flourish in this line of work successfully.

Responsibilities Of A Graphic Artist

As a graphic artist, your main responsibilities include creating visual concepts and designs, collaborating with clients to understand their needs and preferences, and producing promotional materials such as book covers, storyboards, backdrops for events, and art for advertisements.

Creating Visual Concepts

Graphic artists are responsible for creating visual concepts that communicate specific messages or emotions to audiences.

To create impactful visual concepts as a graphic artist, you need to master fundamental design principles like complementary color palettes, typography choices, white space utilization and visual hierarchy.

You must also have a keen eye for detail while understanding how your creations will be used in real-life marketing strategies. A good place to start is by getting familiar with Adobe Creative Cloud apps such as Photoshop for photo editing or Illustrator for vector art creation.

Collaborating With Clients

Collaborating with clients is a crucial part of being a graphic artist. Communication is key when working with clients to ensure that their expectations are met while also incorporating your own creativity into the design.

It involves discussing and understanding the client’s needs, gathering information about their target audience, and determining what will be effective in achieving their goals.

An example can include designing visual materials such as flyers, digital banners, print advertisements, posters or magazine layouts for marketing strategies. By establishing open communication and taking feedback throughout the design process, you can make sure that both parties are satisfied with the final product.

It’s worth noting that collaboration doesn’t always involve face-to-face meetings; it may include virtual meetings or conference calls where discussions take place on specific projects within agreed deadlines.

Graphic artists need to have excellent interpersonal skills combined with creativity to communicate clearly while keeping in mind how they can best meet their client’s needs.

Designing Promotional Materials

As a graphic artist or designer, one of your primary responsibilities is designing promotional materials. This can include everything from flyers and posters to digital banners and print advertisements.

To create effective promotional materials, you need to have a deep understanding of design principles like complementary color palettes, white space, readable fonts, and visual hierarchy.

You’ll also need to work closely with clients to ensure that the final product meets their needs and accurately portrays their brand image.

Skills And Personality Traits Of A Successful Graphic Artist

A successful graphic artist must possess creativity, strong communication skills, effective time management abilities, and technical expertise in both traditional and digital media.


Creativity is a crucial trait for graphic artists and designers, allowing them to come up with fresh ideas and unique visual concepts that stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Graphic designers must possess creativity as they work on projects such as branding guidelines, logos, book covers, storyboards, printed designs, backdrops, art for advertisements using complementary color palettes and white space – all while maintaining readability with suitable fonts and visual hierarchy.


Strong communication skills are essential for graphic artists to succeed in their roles. They need to be able to effectively communicate with clients, project managers, and other team members to ensure that they understand the project requirements and can create designs that meet those needs.

In addition to communication with others involved in a project, graphic designers must also communicate through their designs. They use design principles such as complementary color palettes, white space, readable fontsvisual hierarchy and more storytelling techniques among others as means of ensuring that their work is not only visually appealing but effective at conveying messages or emotions.

For example; A website designer might use typography styles on a web page layout to guide visitors across or towards specific content on the site while creating an enjoyable user experience which adds value beyond just aesthetics.

Time Management

Effective time management is a crucial skill for graphic artists to develop, especially when working on multiple projects simultaneously. Being able to prioritize tasks and set realistic deadlines helps ensure that work is completed on time and meets the client’s expectations.

Good communication skills are also important when managing time effectively. Keeping clients and team members informed of progress updates and expected timelines can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure a successful outcome.

Project management software, calendar apps, and timers are helpful tools for tracking deadlines and keeping track of project schedules. Properly managing one’s workload can lead to increased productivity, better work-life balance, reduced stress levels, and greater job satisfaction in the long term.

Technical Skills

As a graphic artist, having technical skills is crucial to success in the industry. This includes proficiency with software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, and Dreamweaver.

Knowing how to use these programs effectively can help you produce high-quality artwork that meets client expectations and stands out from other designers.

But it’s not just about mastering tools and techniques – problem-solving skills are also important for any graphic artist. Whether working independently or collaboratively in a creative team with copywriters, editors or creative managers – being able to find innovative solutions when faced with design challenges will set you apart as an effective communicator of complex ideas through visual art mediums.

Education And Training For Graphic Artists

Graphic artists usually have bachelor’s degrees in graphic design or related fields, and they benefit from certifications and training programs that focus on design principles and software.

To pursue a career as a graphic designer or artist, it is crucial to have the relevant education and training. Some of the degree programs that can help you gain the skills and knowledge needed in this field include:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design: This program can provide you with comprehensive training in graphic design principles, digital media, typography, marketing, and branding.
  2. Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts: The program focuses on developing your creativity and technical skills in traditional art forms such as painting and drawing, which can be applied to digital media.
  3. Associate Degree: Associates degrees may provide foundational knowledge of design principles and software applications such as Adobe Creative Cloud Apps.
  4. Certification Programs: Certifications like Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) certification demonstrates expertise in specific Adobe Software.
  5. Freelance designers especially may take less formalized courses for specific tools or techniques they need to use.

Keep in mind that these degree programs are not strictly necessary, but they can make you more competitive for certain jobs and show dedication to employers.In addition to formal education, aspiring graphic designers should build a strong portfolio showcasing their skills through internships or freelance work opportunities. Continuing education and staying updated with industry software and trends are essential for both graphic designers and artists alike to remain relevant and competitive in the job market.

Certifications And Workshops

Here are some useful certifications and workshops that can help beginner designers enhance their skills:

  1. Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) certification – This certification validates a designer’s proficiency in using Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Animate, After Effects, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro.
  2. Coursera Plus – This online platform offers a wide range of courses and specializations from world-class universities and companies, including design-related topics such as graphic design, user experience (UX) design, web design, branding, and more.
  3. National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) – NASAD accredits schools with art and design programs that meet specific standards. Attending an accredited program can provide valuable education and networking opportunities.
  4. Graphic Artists Guild – This professional organization offers resources for designers on legal issues, pricing guidelines, business practices, and contracts.
  5. Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) – SEGD is a community of professionals focused on designing immersive experiences through environmental graphic design (EGD).
  6. Online resources – There are many free or low-cost online resources available to help designers learn new skills and stay up-to-date with industry trends. Some examples include Skillshare, Udemy, Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning), CreativeBloq.com among others.

By obtaining relevant certifications or attending workshops hosted by these organizations or platforms such as Adobe Certified Associate (ACA), Coursera Plus or even Skillshare memberships; beginner designers can gain the necessary technical skills in design principles software usage to become more competitive in today’s job market.

Work Environment For Graphic Artists

Graphic artists can work in-house for companies, advertising agencies, or design firms; alternatively, they may choose to work as freelancers from home or a studio.

In-house Vs. Freelance

In-house and freelance graphic artists have significant differences in their work environment, opportunities, and responsibilities. The table below will help you compare and understand the main differences between the two career paths.

In-house Graphic ArtistFreelance Graphic Artist
Stable income and benefitsFlexible income based on projects
Structured work environment with set hoursFreedom in work schedule and location
Collaboration and mentorship opportunitiesControl over creative work and client selection
Possible career advancement within the companySelf-management of business operations
Focus on design work and collaboration with a teamResponsibility for marketing, client relations, and accounting
Industries employing in-house designers include advertising, marketing, and mediaFreelance designers work with clients across various industries

Both in-house and freelance graphic artists should focus on building a strong portfolio to showcase their skills and talents, as well as investing in their education and training through courses, certifications, and workshops. Each career path offers its own set of advantages and challenges, so it is essential for beginner designers to carefully consider their personal goals, values, and work preferences before choosing the path that best suits them.

Industries Employing Graphic Artists

Graphic artists are employed in various industries where their skills in design, communication, and creativity are required. Here are some of the most common industries hiring graphic artists:

  1. Graphic Design Firms: These firms specialize in graphic design services such as branding, logo design, print and web design for clients.
  2. Publishing Houses: Publishers require graphic artists to create book covers, page layouts, and illustrations for printed materials like books and magazines.
  3. Advertising Agencies: Graphic artists work with creative teams to create concepts and designs for advertising campaigns across various media platforms.
  4. Retail Industry: Visual merchandisers work with retailers to create attractive product displays aimed at increasing sales.
  5. Non-Profit Organizations: Graphic artists may be involved in creating designs for awareness-raising programs or fundraising events
  6. Web Design Firms: With the rise of digital technology, it’s no surprise that many graphic designers are employed by firms specializing in web design services.
  7. Industrial Design Firms: Industrial designers collaborate with engineers to develop products for manufacturing companies that function well while also looking great.

It’s important to note that these are just a few examples of the multiple industries employing graphic artists today! As new fields emerge or existing areas expand their outreach efforts through visual media, there will always be a need for talented designers who bring fresh ideas and creative solutions to every project they undertake.

Salary And Job Outlook For Graphic Artists

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for graphic artists is around $50,370 per year, and job growth projections are expected to increase by 3% from 2019-2029.

Median Pay And Growth Projections

The median pay for graphic designers in 2021 is $50,710 per year or $24.38 per hour, and the job growth is projected to increase at a slower than average rate of 3% from 2021 to 2031. Here is a summary of the median pay and growth projections for graphic designers:

YearMedian Pay (Per Year)Median Pay (Per Hour)Job Growth
2021$50,710$24.383% (2021-2031)

It is important for beginner designers to understand these statistics, as they provide insight into the current job market for graphic designers. The demand for graphic design professionals may increase due to companies’ growing digital presence, creating a need for visually appealing layouts for websites and mobile apps. In addition, there will be an average of 24,800 annual job openings for graphic designers over the next decade, with most of these openings resulting from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or retire.

Job Opportunities And Competition

Job opportunities for graphic artists are available in various industries such as advertising, marketing, publishing, and related services. The demand for digital designers is increasing due to the growth of the digital presence of companies and organizations.

However, competition for these positions can be tough.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in graphic design is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is slower than the average growth rate for all occupations.

This means competition will remain high, especially in major urban centers where job opportunities are more abundant. It’s important for aspiring graphic artists to keep up with industry trends and developments to stay ahead of this competitive curve.


In conclusion, a graphic artist is someone who creates visual material for various purposes using both traditional and digital media. They focus on communicating emotions through their work, while graphic designers solve problems by combining visual and text-based content.

Whether you’re interested in pursuing graphic design or becoming a graphic artist, it’s important to hone your skills in communication, creativity, time management, and technical expertise.

Overall, the field of graphic artistry offers plenty of opportunities for growth and development as digital technology continues to evolve.


1. What is a graphic artist and what do they do?

A graphic artist, also known as a graphic designer, is a creative professional who specializes in creating visual content for various mediums such as digital media, print material or advertisements. They use their skills in art, typography and design to communicate messages through images.

2. What are the skills needed to become a successful graphic artist?

Some of the key skills that are required for becoming a successful graphic artist include creativity, visual thinking abilities, proficiency in software tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, attention-to-detail with an eye for aesthetics and good communication skills to effectively collaborate with clients.

3. How is the work of a graphic artist different from that of other artists like painters or sculptors?

Graphic artists create designs specifically intended for commercial purposes – such as branding or marketing material – while traditional artists may create works solely for artistic expression or cultural appreciation without commercial intent.

4. Is it necessary to have formal education/training to become a professional Graphic Artist/Digital Designer?

While not strictly necessary, most employers prefer candidates with some form of formal training- usually either an associate’s degree (AA) or bachelor’s degree (BA/BFA) in Fine Arts/Graphic Design – because it shows competency within industry standard software programs/tools & techniques which can be acquired through classroom instruction You can always build on this foundation by taking advantage online courses/tutorials available online as well attending workshops/seminars offered at trade conferences.

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