What is a Graphic Designer?

Graphic design is an increasingly in-demand career that offers exciting opportunities to work on branding campaigns for companies and individuals. If you’re an arts or design major, or even if you’re just interested in finding out more about graphic design, you might be wondering what you can expect from a graphic design career.

We recently sat down with Emily Shellenberger, a graphic designer at Adweek, to learn more about what it means to work in graphic design and to get some tips on how to do it right.

What does a graphic designer do?

According to Emily, a graphic designer does “a little bit of everything from digital banners to social media materials to website design and print ads.” Since designers are responsible for creating a variety of marketing and branding materials, their day-to-day tasks can vary widely depending on what particular type of project they’re working on. But one thing remains constant: the ability to come up with designs for a broad range of platforms and to adjust those designs for print, digital and mobile platforms. This can include resizing a design multiple times to adapt it to a specific platform, or coming up with a concept that is relevant to only one channel, like print. Because graphic design is both creative and technical, designers also have to be skilled at using programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

What are the benefits of a graphic design career?

Graphic design is a cross-functional field and one that requires you to stay nimble when moving from task to task. “I’m on the marketing team and we kind of do a little bit of everything when it comes to Adweek’s marketing needs,” Emily explains, emphasizing that being a designer is a great way to be involved in many areas of a business. “Every day is different and for me, that’s great.” What’s the best part of being a designer? For Emily it’s not just about finding ways to execute creative concepts at work but also coming up with ways to apply those skills to her personal life. “A few of my friends found out that I could do design Snapchat filters and now everybody wants them for their weddings and birthday parties. It’s nice to know that you can help people out in a fun way too.”

What are some of the challenges graphic designers face?

Because the day-to-day job of a designer can vary widely depending on what they’re working on, one of the main challenges is being able to think about how the particular task you’re working on fits into the overall design concept of the brand. “You always have to think about how a design would look on mobile or how it would look on desktop,” Emily explains. In addition to the challenge of creating designs for multiple platforms, graphic designers also have to contend with the technical challenges of design itself. “For me personally, HTML and CSS are not my strong points,” Emily says, explaining that understanding how and when to apply this type of code is not always easy. However, she also emphasizes that learning basic coding like HTML and CSS is a great way to give yourself an edge in the industry and to continue developing your skills. “It definitely gives me an edge to know a little bit about them so I’m always pushing myself to get in there and try to make edits.”

Graphic design is an exciting field with plenty of great opportunities. If you’re interested in becoming a graphic designer and want to learn more about the industry, consider taking on an internship and getting some hands-on experience in the industry.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Use a Blog to Apply for an Internship and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?