Graphic Design

Desktop publishing offers a wide variety of career options as the skills involved are highly transferable. Often called graphic designers or layout artists, these professionals are responsible for enhancing the visual impact of reports, publications, advertising, commercials, videos, posters and signs. Working on computers with specialized software programs, they use images, print styles and visual effects to communicate their message clearly and persuasively. Specific examples of the work done by desktop publishers range from designing corporate logos and letterhead, to creating store counter displays, banners and posters, to designing titles, credits and graphics for film and television.

In graphic designing you work closely and extensively with your clients to create a product that is both visually appealing and able to fulfill the clients’ requirements. From estimating the cost of materials and time needed to complete the project to determining the medium best suited to produce the desired visual effect, the ability to listen to and understand your clients’ vision is essential to your success.

Traits & Talents

For a career in desktop publishing, you must be comfortable working with computers. You need to have a good eye for colour, balance and aesthetic design, be innovative, creative and logical and able to use these qualities to find solutions to visual problems. People drawn to this profession generally display an interest in subjects such as photography, illustration, drawing or other artistic pursuits. Being well organized is also important as desktop publishers have to be able to stick to a budget and work to tight deadlines.

This profession requires a substantial degree of self-promotion and salesmanship in order to get your designs accepted and produced. Desktop publishing embraces entrepreneurial artists who have a flair for being able to convey messages to clients and co-workers clearly and persuasively. You will spend a lot of time working in teams with marketing and graphic production personnel, therefore better than average interpersonal communication skills and the ability to get along with others are essential.

Education and Training

  • A university degree in visual arts with specialization in graphic design, commercial art, graphic communications or cartooning or Completion of a college diploma program in graphic arts is required.
  • Experience or training in multimedia design at a post-secondary, college or technical institution may be required.
  • In addition to the arts, training in biology, engineering, architecture or a scientific field is usually required for medical, technical and scientific illustrators.
  • Creative ability and artistic talent, as demonstrated by a portfolio of work, are required for graphic designers and illustrators.

The Workplace

Graphic designers perform some or all of the following duties: 

  • Consult with clients to establish the overall look, graphic elements and content of communications materials in order to meet their needs 
  • Determine the medium best suited to produce the desired visual effect and the most appropriate vehicle for communication 
  • Develop the graphic elements that meet the clients’ objectives 
  • Prepare sketches, layouts and graphic elements of the subjects to be rendered using traditional tools, multimedia software and image processing, layout and design software 
  • Estimate cost of materials and time to complete graphic design 
  • Use existing photo and illustration banks and typography guides or hire an illustrator or photographer to produce images that meet clients’ communications needs 
  • Establish guidelines for illustrators or photographers 
  • Co-ordinate all aspects of production for print, audio-visual or electronic materials, such as Web sites, CD-ROMs, interactive terminals, etc. 
  • Co-ordinate sub-contracting 
  • Work in a multidisciplinary environment 
  • Supervise other graphic designers or graphic arts technicians

Skills for Success

The key Skills for Success for this career path are:

    • Reading
    • Digital
    • Creativity & Innovation

Sample Job Titles

  • Package designer 
  • Art director 
  • Commercial press operator 
  • Cartoonist 
  • Cybergraphic designer 
  • Graphic artist 

Companies and Sectors

  • Design firms 
  • Magazines or book publishing companies 
  • Television and film studios 
  • Mail order houses 
  • Advertising agencies