Graphics Designers are responsible for creating designs and illustrations using digital design tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator. They will work closely with teams of designers to see that large-scale design projects are completed on time and meet a client’s specifications and desires. Their daily tasks will be largely dependent on what stage of the design process they are working on at any given moment. Early in the process, they may spend most of their time meeting with project managers, brainstorming design ideas, or mapping out large projects to ensure that workflow is being optimized. Later on in the process, designers will spend more time working on individual aspects of the project, collaborating with other team members, and ensuring that the finished product is polished and ready to be presented. At the end of the process, designers will respond to client feedback and iterate on the design to make sure that they are delivering the exact product that their clients intended.

What is a Graphic Designer?

A Graphic Designer is a creative professional who combines text and visually appealing imagery to share a message with an audience. This could be through advertising, social media, or product packaging, to name a few. They are well-versed in design principles like color and typography and are committed to staying up-to-date on the latest trends. Whether they work for an agency or freelancer, they collaborate with clients and other team members to create high-quality designs that appeal to new and existing customers. 

In addition to proficiency in professional design programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, a successful Graphic Designer must also work well with others. Graphic Designers rarely work alone, and since their job is to create a product that matches a client's vision, they must be willing to accept feedback and suggestions from others. Time management skills are also crucial for a Graphic Designer; since most of them work freelance, they often work on multiple projects for many clients simultaneously. 

Read more about what a Graphic Designer does

Graphic Designer Specializations

Because graphic design is such a varied career path, many professionals choose to specialize in one or two types of graphic design before branching out to others. One popular choice is brand identity, which relates to creating logos and other easily recognizable images that customers can quickly associate with a brand, whether the image is on a billboard or a business card. Package design is another specialization within graphic design. People in this role are responsible for creating visually appealing and informative packaging since most packages need to provide instructions on how to use the product inside.

Digital design focuses on creating the interface and other graphics for web and mobile applications. Coding skills may be necessary if you choose this route, but you can browse specific job listings to learn more about the required skills. Layout and print design are all about balancing images and text when creating layouts for things like brochures, magazines, and newspapers. These professionals are particularly skilled in typography and composition and usually use Adobe InDesign to achieve their designs. 

Read more about other job titles related to Graphic Designer.

Starting Your Day

Most graphic designers will work in one of two places. Either they will work in a design studio alongside other designers, or they will work from home. In either case, most of a designer's time will be spent either in brainstorming meetings with clients, project managers, or other designers or will be spent in front of a computer working on digitally-aided designs. The amount of time spent working with other designers and project managers is mostly contingent on whether or not a designer works for a large firm or is self-employed. 

9 AM:

For most Graphic Designers, the start of the day will be focused on catching up on developments that may have caused projects to shift since the last time they were picked up. Whether this involves checking emails from clients and project managers, participating in regular Zoom meetings, or simply checking relevant Slack channels, designers will get into a groove that helps them navigate a rapidly changing project workload. If they are at the beginning of a project, they may receive specs or even brand-new assignments. At the end of a project, they may start their day by checking if there is any significant feedback or last-minute revisions they need to prioritize during the day. In many cases, Graphic Designers will be expected to be willing and able to change their designs at a moment’s notice, so they are likely to be checking their workload for changes daily.

11 AM:

Since Graphic Designers are most likely to be employed by design firms or as self-employed individuals, they are likely to be working on various projects. Designers working at firms are likely to be working on a single project at a time, though they may be tasked with working on multiple aspects of that project. Self-employed designers are far more likely to take on many individual commissions at one time, so they will likely juggle a few different projects simultaneously.

Designers tend to work on large projects fairly regularly, including everything from designing company logos to entire advertising spreads in newspapers or magazines. This is especially true for self-employed designers who will have less of an established footprint and need to accept a more diverse range of jobs to stay financially solvent. Freelance designers will eventually learn how to manage their job requirements and work at the pace that best suits their needs, though they are far more likely to juggle multiple projects at once and work outside of regular work hours.

Almost all designers will need to maintain constant contact with their team leaders (if they have one) and their clients to ensure that the work aligns with the overall design goals of their assignments or commissions. This may be in-person, or it may be through digital telecommunications channels. In some cases, this may be done through a series of email exchanges.

2 PM:

Graphic Designers will receive regular feedback on their work because it is important that they are meeting the specifications of the project that they have been assigned. This will usually take the form of annotations on their work, though in some cases, they may meet with team leaders and clients in person to discuss a given project. Graphic designers will need to be able to quickly and effectively respond to this feedback as a part of their job description, especially for freelance workers who are hoping to build positive relationships with potential clients. 

Graphic designers will manage their daily workflow by moving through different assignments and finding the work cycle that works best for them. This will be dependent on the number of different assignments that a designer has to complete at any given time, but overtime, designers will become more and more accustomed to the nature of their workload.

5 PM:

The process of wrapping up your workday as a Graphic Designer will depend on where in the process you are and what kind of assignments you are working on. For many graphic designers, at the end of the workday, you’ll send off your work to your project manager or editors for evaluation and approval so that you can come to work the next day ready to move on and receive feedback or requests for alterations. Near the end of the project, you may also bring a client into the loop.

For self-employed designers, there won’t be a team of managers and colleagues to be sharing work with, so you won’t really be engaging with anyone else until you are prepared to send a design to a client for approval. This also means that self-employed Graphic Designers have greater freedom to decide what constitutes the end of their workday, since they aren’t likely to be providing as many daily updates as their counterparts working at large firms.

Graphic Designers, either self-employed or otherwise, may need to do a lot of meaningful crunch work as deadlines approach. If a project has not been going smoothly or there have been meaningful last-minute changes to a commission, designers may be forced to work overtime to meet deadlines. This is something that is likely to be obvious early on in the process, but it is an issue worth considering when contemplating what your daily life will look like as a Graphic Designer.

After Work

Graphic Designers will need to work overtime if snags in the early stages of a design project cause a backup of work that needs to be resolved before a deadline. Sometimes a difficult client will ask for changes and sometimes an issue with one team will cascade into problems wrapping up the design process. This is likely to only cause issues near the end of a project and one of the minor silver linings is that it rarely comes out of left field. Teams of designers know that they are behind well before they reach crunch time, so they know that more intense work will need to be done.

For freelance designers, there isn’t a set schedule you are required to follow, so there isn’t really a post-work time period. If you feel the most comfortable working late at night, then there is very little to stop you from doing this, assuming you meet clients’ deadlines and can keep in consistent communication with them. However, self-employed Graphic Designers are far more likely to end up in a position where they need to work overtime, either by falling behind in their own work or underestimating how tight a deadline is.

Learn the Skills to Become a Graphic Designer at Noble Desktop

If you want to start a career in graphic design, the graphic design classes offered by Noble Desktop are an excellent place to start. Students can take all their classes remotely or in-person at their Manhattan campus. For students who want to start slow by just learning one popular design program, Noble offers an Adobe Photoshop Bootcamp, an Adobe InDesign Bootcamp, and an Adobe Illustrator Bootcamp. These beginner-friendly courses take just a few days to complete and will provide students with foundational design skills.

For those who feel ready to dive into a more comprehensive program, Noble Desktop’s Graphic Design Certificate might be a better fit. Students will complete hands-on assignments using popular design programs, including Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. This program is ideal for those hoping to start a career as a Graphic Designer. Certificate students at Noble Desktop receive individual career mentorship, where experts in the design industry help craft resumes and portfolios and provide helpful tips for finding lucrative employment. 

If a class isn’t feasible for your current schedule, Noble Desktop has a host of resources on its website to help start your graphic design career. You can browse their collection of articles about Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign if you’re curious about how each program works. You can also review information about other design tools to see if another field might interest you more.