What is Graphic Design?

Explore the expansive field of graphic design, a creative industry that uses visual imagery to communicate effectively and quickly. Discover how graphic design skills can lead to a wide range of careers, from building brand identities for small businesses to developing comprehensive marketing campaigns for large corporations.

Key Insights

  • Graphic design is an art form that combines text, images, colors, and graphics to create vibrant and impactful visual designs.
  • Professionals in various industries utilize graphic design skills, including small business owners, start-up entrepreneurs, activists, and politicians.
  • Graphic design tools range from photo editing software like Photoshop to vector graphic illustration tools such as Illustrator. These tools typically require a monthly subscription fee.
  • Noble Desktop offers live instruction courses, both in-person and online, providing students with hands-on experience and feedback from experienced instructors.
  • Graphic design can lead to numerous career paths, such as Graphic Designers, Digital Designers, and Design Directors, each with their own unique responsibilities and skill sets.
  • Salaries for graphic design positions can vary widely, with factors like experience, location, and industry affecting potential income. However, a career in graphic design often provides a strong return on investment for the time and money spent on education and training.

Graphic design is the art of using visual imagery to communicate meaning or persuade audiences. Graphic design skills teach users how to use tools and techniques to create vibrant and evocative visual designs. In this overview, you’ll learn more about graphic design, what it can do, who uses it, and how to add this skill to your professional toolbox.

What Can You Do with Graphic Design?

Graphic design represents a wide-ranging field of visual expression, which means there is virtually no limit to the kinds of images that sufficiently skilled creatives can create. As the field of graphic design is so expensive, creatives can make use of their skills in both professional and personal contexts. As professional Graphic Designers, creatives will be tasked with building imagery that is both evocative and communicates complex persuasive ideas to their audience of consumers. Graphic Designers will build the iconography of companies and brands, build the images that audiences come to associate with those companies, and help construct memorable advertising campaigns, promotional material, and product packaging.

Graphic design skills are also useful for non-professionals who want to persuade large audiences. Small business owners, start-up entrepreneurs, or even creatives working in marketplaces like Etsy may wish to learn more about graphic design to build their brand identities and set themselves apart from their competitors. Activists and organizers can learn graphic design skills to build more visually appealing and persuasive designs for flyers and infographics. Politicians will hire graphic designers to build campaign materials. As long as someone is attempting to communicate visually to an audience, they will benefit from either learning graphic design skills or working closely alongside someone who knows them.

How Do You Get Graphic Design Tools? How Much Does it Cost?

To start experimenting with graphic design, students must decide which tools they plan to use. Some common graphic design tools include photo editing software (Photoshop), vector graphic illustration tools (Illustrator), and page layout design tools (InDesign). Each tool has a different function, and many more options are available to aspiring Graphic Designers. For a more detailed explanation of the tools available to graphic design students, please consult Noble's free Intro to Graphic Design course.

Once students have decided on the tools they wish to learn, the next step is licensing them to start experimenting. While many of these programs come with free trial options, once those expire, users will need to pay a monthly subscription fee to license individual applications. The most commonly used programs are available through Adobe as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud and can be licensed separately or as part of a package. These subscriptions will cost users between nine and sixty dollars a month.

What Are the Benefits of Learning Graphic Design?

Graphic Design Certificate: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, 0% Financing, 1-on-1 Mentoring, Free Retake, Job Prep. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.

Learning graphic design skills, particularly industry-standard tools like Photoshop or InDesign, will allow students to expand their creative talents while opening the door to an in-demand career field. Learning graphic design skills will help creatives turn their passions into professions, as graphic design skills are utilized in dozens of industries to communicate important information and ideas to consumers and communities. Whether working in a small business to help establish a brand identity, working for a non-profit to build infographics, working for a politician to produce campaign material, or working for a massive company designing advertising campaigns, anyone whose job involves attempting to persuade an audience will benefit from learning graphic design skills.

Graphic design training can also help non-professional creatives gain new skills that they can use to expand their artistic abilities. Most graphic design training emphasizes either theory of design and composition or the specific tools that professional Graphic Designers commonly use. Learning applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign will expand the scope of projects that creatives can work on. Even if they aren’t intending to switch career paths because of their graphic design training, learning how to use these tools will open up new opportunities for artistic and creative expression.

Read more about why you should learn graphic design.

Graphic Design Careers

Since it is such an expansive creative skill, graphic design training can help students find jobs in various professions and industries. From advertising to political campaigning to activisim to social media management, graphic design skills are useful for any profession that asks professionals to try and build materials to persuade an audience. A few of the most common graphic design careers include:

Graphic Designers: Graphic Designers are responsible for designing the materials companies and organizations use to communicate their message and persuade their audiences. This can be as simple as designing a logo for a company or as complex as designing an entire marketing campaign’s worth of promotional material for the release of a new product. Graphic Designers will mostly work with two-dimensional, static print material, like posters, flyers, promotional merchandise, and swag. They will need to know how to use graphic design tools and compose and build evocative and effective designs.

Digital Designers: Digital Designers take the skills of Graphic Designers and specialize in producing designs for digital products, such as webpages, mobile applications, or even video games, films, and television. Some of these designers will learn how to build motion graphics animations, while others will work strictly in the realm of static digital designs. These designers are employed in nearly every industry, as building a strong web presence has become essential to both public and private sector organizations and companies. Anyone interested in working on an ever-expanding digital canvas should consider a career as a Digital Designer.

Design Director: At larger firms and organizations, graphic design projects are rarely undertaken by single individuals. Rather, they are the collaborative work of teams of designers working with one another to assure that a product launch, political campaign, fundraiser, or other project is completed perfectly. A Design Director must see that all the individual team members and teams work well to meet deadlines and hit design goals. Design Directors will need to be trained as designers to understand how their teams are functioning, and they will need to be trained in soft leadership skills to ensure that the design process's human element runs smoothly.

How to Learn Graphic Design

Students looking to learn graphic design skills have a few options for how to receive their training. They can enroll in live training courses, take a self-paced on-demand course, or ease themselves into the tools of graphic design by taking advantage of free training resources. Each graphic design training option has certain advantages and disadvantages, so students should consider their own needs and learning styles before deciding.

The most immersive learning options are live instruction courses, both in-person and online. These courses give students hands-on experience using graphic design tools, and students will benefit from working directly with live instructors who can provide students with vital feedback on the progression of their designs. In-person courses also let students work with like-minded colleagues and receive networking opportunities that can benefit them long-term. However, these courses can be somewhat restrictive in where they are offered. Online training options offer the same benefits as live instruction but can be taken from anywhere. The drawback to these courses is that students must supply and maintain their own technology.

Students looking for more flexibility in their graphic design training may want to consider on-demand graphic design training. These courses let students control the pace of their own learning, letting them study and practice their graphic design skills when it is most convenient for them. These classes are ideal for students with inconsistent schedules or other obligations that make live training impossible. The downside to these courses is that without a live instructor, there is no one to provide feedback on a student’s designs, which is a vital aspect of creative skills development.

Students who don’t feel ready to enroll in a graphic design training program may wish to consider exploring the options for free online training. These tutorials won’t replace professional training, but they can help students become comfortable with the necessary skills to ease them into more professional training options. Noble offers free video tutorials on the Graphic Design playlist on its official YouTube channel. In addition, students looking to learn more can consult Noble’s Learn Graphic Design hub to find articles, tutorials, and free learning resources related to graphic design tools and techniques.

Read the full guide on how to learn graphic design.

Comparable Applications/Programming Languages/Fields

Graphic design is an expansive field of creative work that touches upon or completely overlaps several other creative disciplines. Learning graphic design skills will likely give students access to the tools they need to begin learning other similar skill sets, meaning that new students should be aware of where these skills are useful.

Graphic design skills are closely related to visual and user interface design skills. They use many tools, but user interface design emphasizes using them to build digital assets that will populate webpages, mobile applications, and other digital products. Graphic design training will teach students how to build things like posters, company logos, magazine page layouts, and other traditional print media, while visual design training will strictly focus on designing assets for digital spaces.

Graphic design training is also focused primarily on static, two-dimensional designs. Students will learn how to build static assets that can be printed onto or made into physical objects. Contrast this with motion graphics training, which teaches students to use additional tools like Premiere Pro or After Effects to create animated three-dimensional assets. This training is important for anyone hoping to build graphic designs for the film and television industry, as it allows them to add movement and depth to their otherwise flat, static designs.

To learn more about either of these complementary fields, consult the Noble learn hubs for visual design, UI design, and motion graphics.

Learn Graphic Design with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Interested in learning graphic design? There are a few different options available. It’s possible to either study individual graphic design tools in accelerated bootcamps or learn complementary graphic design skills in more career-focused training programs. Both graphic design training courses are available to students through Noble Desktop, both in-person and online. These courses are taught by experienced instructors who can teach students important graphic design techniques and give them vital feedback on their designs. Even online, Noble strives to keep class sizes small, ensuring that students can interface directly with their instructors. Plus, all of Noble’s courses have the option to retake the course for free within a year. This allows students to hone their skills, cover material that may have given them difficulty, or just get more hands-on practice and feedback on their designs.

For students looking to learn the programs most commonly associated with professional graphic design, Noble offers a wide selection of bootcamps. These include training courses in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, all of which are industry-standard tools. These courses will provide students with hands-on training in the advanced techniques to manipulate and edit photos, build vector graphic illustrations, or construct layout designs. Each of these courses will guide students through practical exercises replicating the kinds of projects built by professional Graphic Designers. Each of these courses will teach an individual tool, but because they are all part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, learning one tool will ease future training and greatly expand how creatives can use multiple programs simultaneously.

Students looking to build a career in graphic design may wish to consider Noble’s Graphic Design Certificate program. This accelerated training program will teach students all three major 2D graphic design tools. Students will learn Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign work separately, then they will learn how these programs complement one another, introducing students to new and expansive ways to build graphic designs. Since this is a career-focused bootcamp, students will receive one-on-one career mentorship. The final portion of the course is dedicated to helping students build a practical portfolio of sample design that they can take onto the job market. For students looking to turn a passion for graphic design into a career, Noble’s certificate programs are an ideal place to receive the necessary skills training.

Key Insights

  • Graphic design is a creative field that focuses on creating visual imagery built to quickly and effectively communicate meaning. Graphic Designers will blend text, images, colors, and graphics into vibrant designs.
  • Graphic design skills are used in a wide array of industries and professions. Graphic Designers will build layouts, illustrations, or images professionally, and they work across both traditional print and digital mediums.
  • Graphic Designers use an array of tools, most commonly for editing photographs or drawing illustrations. These tools can be licensed through several sources, so the cost of experimenting with graphic design varies from user to user.
  • Once students have committed to learning graphic design, they can receive comprehensive graphic design training through an in-person or live online course with Noble Desktop.

How to Learn Graphic Design

Master graphic design with hands-on training. Graphic design is the production of digital and print media that follows certain conventions of style, color, and typography in order to evoke a positive reaction from its viewers.

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