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What is Graphic Design? A Beginner’s Guide

What is Graphic Design? A Beginner’s Guide

graphic design

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Graphic design is a fantastic subject that includes many different types of work and can be categorized in many ways. It’s easy to get lost when thinking about all the things graphic designers do but don’t worry!

I’ve compiled some great definitions for you below so take your time reading them over as these will help clarify what exactly we mean by “graphic.” If you are looking for content to enhance your career as a graphic designer or freelancer, or to increase your design skills, then you have landed in the right place. I’ll leave you with some content here that you might be interested in:

  1. How To Create A Logo Package For Your Client Like A Pro
  2. What Is User Experience (UX) Design? Everything You Need To Know
  3. How To Create A Design Portfolio With These Easy Tips

What is Graphic Design

Graphic Design is a complex subject that can be broken down into many different categories. Some people might say it’s the logo design, branding study of companies, or even magazine covers but all these things are just part one small aspect of the whole subject because they each have their own specific characteristics and restrictions within this large field.

This is a great way to communicate your message with style and creativity and it’s a process of visually communicating ideas.

Graphic designers are very creative because they’re able not only to think outside the box but also to use their skills in many different mediums such as textiles prints etc… The following list includes some popular examples of this kind of work:

  • Brand Identity
  • Logo Design
  • Typefaces
  • Magazines and books (editorial graphics)
  • User Interface (in web design)
  • User Experience
  • Graphics for clothing
  • Multimedia graphics
  • Motion graphics
  • and more…

Professions like Graphic Designer often lead to one of the most fulfilling and creatively satisfying jobs you can imagine. This is because their work entails communicating through drawing, colors, and typefaces – which all come together in order for something beautiful or harmonious – looking to happen on paper (or screen).

It’s no wonder these professionals love what they do so much. So if you have an eye for art and design, then this could be your dream career. You can make $20-$150 per hour! In this article, I’ll be teaching you about what this word actually means so that in future discussions on the subject!

graphical design history
The history. Image credits: Canva, try it for free.

The History of Graphic Design

The history of graphic design is a long and varied one, with many different styles and movements emerging over the years.

Some of the most iconic and well-known designs come from the early years of graphical design when typography and illustration were the main methods of communication. Let’s take a look at some of the most influential moments in graphic design history.

The Bauhaus School

One of the most influential schools for graphical design was the Bauhaus School, which was founded in Germany in 1919. The school taught a new type of design that fused art and technology, and it had a huge influence on the way graphic design was taught and practiced around the world.

It’s known as the birthplace of modern graphic design. In principle, the Bauhaus was about creating a synthesis between different art forms and schools to create a new kind of overall art. In practice, it meant using elements from these other styles in combination with one another for maximum effect.

graphic design history timeline
Timeline of history. Image created with Canva, try it for free.

It also meant that the artist was the primary creator of a design, as opposed to an engraver or other production role.

This also meant that the Bauhaus encouraged and developed new technologies – such as photography and photomontage techniques – which could be used to produce graphic work. These methods were used by other designers afterward too…

Early Illustrators Gustav Jensen, Otto Eckmann

Graphic design developed in the 1920s and 30s alongside many other artistic styles. Some of the most influential designers at this time were Gustav Jensen and Otto Eckmann – both of whom worked in Germany for magazines like Uhu.

These early graphic designers were characterized by their use of bold, colorful illustrations that were incredibly eye-catching. The artists would take inspiration from other mediums for their work – such as the Art Deco movement which was popular at this time.

Art Nouveau was another important style in design during this era; Jensen took inspiration from these works too. It’s clear to see how these styles influenced the development of the modern graphic design.

American Designers Walter Dorwin Teague, Paul Rand, Bradbury Thompson

The 1920s and ’30s also saw the popularisation of American graphic design. There were many talented artists at this time – including Walter Dorwin Teague, who designed for Kodak, and Paul Rand, who designed for IBM.

These artists were primarily designers – rather than illustrators – but their work was still characterized by bold colours and flat shapes.

Of particular interest is the work of Bradbury Thompson, who utilized space in a way that had never been done before. He would place different elements above and below one another to create a sense of depth and movement.

Swiss Style – Raymund Schwab, Josef Müller-Brockmann

In the 1950s and 60s, there was a huge focus on modernism in graphic design, with a particular emphasis on Swiss Style. This style was typified by its use of clean lines, simple shapes, and neutral colours. It was the perfect style to reflect the modernist ideals of the time.

Some of the most influential designers of this time include Raymund Schwab and Josef Müller-Brockmann, both of whom were from Switzerland.

Müller-Brockmann was a huge advocate of grid systems as a way to create order and consistency throughout a design. It’s now considered an essential part of graphic design practice, and many designers still use it today.

British Designers Alan Fletcher, Neville Brody

In the 1970s and ’80s, British graphic design came to the fore, with many talented designers making their mark. One of the most influential was Alan Fletcher, who worked for Pentagram. His work was characterized by its playful use of typography and illustration.

Another important designer from this era was Neville Brody, who worked for The Face and Arena magazines. He helped to pioneer the use of computers in graphical design.

Brody’s work was much more experimental than other styles from the time, and he helped to develop a new style later called ‘The Style is the Game’. This used novelty typefaces and unusual layouts in order to create maximum impact.

Modern Graphic Designer – Stefan Sagmeister, Paula Scher, Neville Brody

In the 1990s and 2000s, there was a renewed focus on modernism in graphic design, with many designers looking back to the styles of the 1950s and 60s for inspiration. Some of the most influential designers from this time include Stefan Sagmeister, Paula Scher, and Neville Brody.

Sagmeister is known for his playful, often humorous designs, Scher for her bold and graphic work, and Brody for his continued experimentation. All three have helped to redefine the way graphic design is practiced today.

design vs web design
Design vs. Web Design. Image credits: Canva, try it for free.

Types of Graphic Design

There are many different types of graphical design. We’ll start by looking at print media and how it has expanded across all sorts of different platforms, changing the face of this kind of design as we know it.

Print Media refers to any form of printed material that is mass-produced, such as books, magazines, brochures, and newspapers. Graphic design for print media usually involves creating graphic design projects such as layouts and procedures that are both attractive and easy to read.

In recent years, there has been a shift from print to digital media, with more and more people getting their information online. This has led to a new type of graphic design which we’ll discuss next.

Digital Media

Digital Media refers to any form of electronic media that can be accessed through a computer or mobile devices, such as websites and video games. Because the Web has become an increasingly popular place for people to get their information, graphic design has shifted its focus from print to screen-based media.

This includes designing layouts and imagery for websites, apps, and social media. This also includes several other elements and positions:

  • visual arts (and web art)
  • visual design (and web design)
  • roles like web designers and web developers
  • insightful and dynamic thinking

type of graphic and web designers
Web designer at work. Image credits: Canva, try it for free.

Skills Required for a Career in Graphic Design

Whether you want to work within a company, or pursue a freelance career and gain a new potential customer, there are many different skills that are required for a successful career in design. In order to be hired by a design firm, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate your proficiency in the following areas. Let’s see them below.

Layout and Composition

The Graphic designer needs to be able to create eye-pleasing patterns and designs in their compositions. Computer programs like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop allow users to draw shapes, add text, and apply filters and effects in order to make the perfect digital design. As a result of this, much of modern graphic design is done on computers through these types of software.


The graphic designer must also be skilled in typography, or the art of arranging typefaces and type sizes to create a visually appealing layout. In the digital age, many graphic designers are becoming well-versed in web fonts and how to use them effectively on the web.

Image Editing

A large part of graphic design involves creating images that express an idea or communicate a concept. For this, it’s helpful to be skilled in image editing, which allows designers to enhance photos and make them look aesthetically pleasing.

education and training
Graphic Designer at work. Image credits: Canva, try it for free.

Education and Training Requirements for a Career in Graphic Design

Graphic design is a career path that requires at least a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field. However, there are many different jobs within the graphic design industry that require various levels of education and training.

Here are some of the most common jobs in the design industry, along with their corresponding education and training requirements:

Graphic Designers

A graphic designer is someone who creates images, identities, and messages that communicate an idea or product to the public.

The graphic designer’s job is to visually represent the work of their client by creating original designs using visual elements for print materials, packaging, websites, logos etc. A bachelor’s degree in graphic design is the most common qualification for this position.

Web Designers

A web designer is responsible for the appearance and function of a website. They must consider which types of fonts, colours, images, and layouts will be most appealing to their target audience.

Most online jobs in graphic design are on-site jobs that do not require the designer to work from home or have an office space. As above, for the web designer role, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design is the most common qualification for this position. A good web designer should have some other skills too:

  • visual theory and visual
  • how to work in combination with the web developer
  • know how search engine optimization works
  • create visual compositions
  • a few programming languages

Graphic Artists

A graphic artist usually works with other designers or multimedia professionals to create advertising, packaging, visual communication, and other promotional materials.

Graphic artists also prepare graphics and layouts for products such as books and magazines and handle any revisions and modifications to existing designs.

Because of their strong communication skills, graphic artists often serve as a liaison between the client and other designers or clients. A bachelor’s degree in graphic design is the most common qualification for this position.

Multimedia Designers

Multimedia designers usually work with web designers to create websites that include interactive features such as video, audio, games, and social media components.

Some multimedia designers also work with graphic artists to create digital images and videos for billboards, newspaper ads, and other forms of media. In order to be a multimedia designer, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in design or a related field.

salary for graphic designers
Graphic Designer salary. Image credits: Canva, try it for free.

Salary, Employment Outlook, and Job Growth Rate (US) for a Career in Graphic design

According to Indeed, taking as a sample New York City, the average salary for Junior Graphic Designers is $42,205. Senior graphic designers earn an average of $74,509 dollars and design directors make $136,903!

The employment outlook for graphic designers is good and is projected to grow by 8% from 2016 to 2026. This growth rate is faster than the average for all other occupations. If you’re interested in a career in design, now is a good time to get started!

skills for graphic and web designers
Designers at the meeting. Image credits: Canva, try it for free.

Aside from being a graphic designer, you can also work in marketing or advertising. A bachelor’s degree in design is good preparation for these jobs because you’ll have strong visual communication skills that help you to create compelling advertisements.

For example, an ad agency might hire a graphic designer to work on the company’s logo and brand identity to ensure consistency. Even if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, the skills you learn while studying will help you get started on your path to success.

In addition to being a graphic designer, you can also work as an art director. Art directors supervise graphic artists and other designers who work on advertisements, promotions, and other forms of visual communication.

A bachelor’s degree in graphic design is good preparation for this job because you’ll have strong creative and management skills that help you to head a team and be successful at work. Even if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in design, the skills you learn while studying will help you get started on your path to success.

digital media and website design
Digital graphic on the making. Image credits: Canva, try it for free.

Tell me the difference between graphic and web design

The fact is that there is a very simple explanation about the real difference between these 2 main categories, that is in detail: Graphic design is the creation of static images, while web design generally refers to the creation of websites and products.

Key differences between graphic design and web designer

Graphic designers usually work with images that are meant to be used in printed materials or displayed in some physical format (this also applies to marketing materials), while web designers are more focused on making sites that are pleasing to look at and easy to use (comprehensive understanding).

Graphic Design vs Web Design

At the same time, both web designers and graphics have a few similarities because are meant to know the design fundamentals and other important design basics, like these:

  • the design process
  • the difference between CMYK color mode and RGB colour mode
  • file sizes and canvas size
  • color theory
  • and more…

Many graphic designers also have experience in web design, and some web designers have experience in graphic design. Graphic designers and web designers are different because: Graphic design lives in the physical and digital world (like product packaging, business cards, book cover, etc.), while Web design is exclusively digital (website design projects, digital product projects, app development projects).

Web Design and Graphic Design Skills:

Web Design and Graphic skills are different, If you want to pursue a Design career, you should upgrade some of these skills:

  • layout techniques
  • file size for both print and digital)
  • physical sizes (e.g., for packaging design)
  • design process
  • CMYK color mode

If you want to make a path as a web designer, there are also some technical things to keep in mind: Web Design requires also some plus skills.

  • how to work on an open platform
  • how to work with the front-end developer
  • how to make a website load quickly
  • how to find insightful new ideas for web design
  • file size and screen size (for website and app)
  • how to insert the final effect in web design
  • how to read Google Analytics
  • how to work with motion graphics
  • how to read user data and log user data
  • know about standardized code

Listen to our new podcast, available on all streaming platforms!

First Episode of The Designers’ Inner Circle by Desircle.


A quick recap of Graphic Design and Web Design meaning: Design is the creation of static images, while web design generally refers to the creation of websites and products. This professional usually works with graphics that are meant to be printed or displayed in some physical format, or special imaging mode, while web designers are more focused on making sites that are pleasing to look at and easy to use.

Many graphic designers also have experience in web design, and some web designers have experience in graphic design. Graphic Design lives in the world of print materials like logos for brick-and-mortar businesses; the work of Web Designer exists online (i.e., digital).

The graphic designer’s job is to visually represent the work of their client by creating original designs for print materials, packaging, websites, logos, etc. Now that you know generic design vs web design, what your path will be?

Principles of Graphic Design. Image credits: Canva, try it for free.

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