As the communications link between supplier and consumer, the graphic designer conceives and executes concepts that inform, motivate, educate or sell. Graphic designers combine text and images to create visually compelling, attention-drawing communications materials.
To prepare students for professional practice, many graphic design programs assign projects such as promotional campaigns, logo design and visual identities, multimedia/interactive projects and presentations, packaging, posters, publications, information design solutions and Internet pages. These assignments equip students to create print and digital portfolios that display competitive design projects and demonstrate knowledgeable use of both print and time-based communication media. Students frequently enter their best work in regional, national and international competitions, such as those sponsored by Graphis, Print magazine, HOW and the Society of Publication Designers, as well as the ADDY Awards.
Graphic designers use a range of software applications, including the full Adobe CS package, Director and Dreamweaver, Flash and QuarkXPress. Students interested in pursuing a graphic design degree may want to consider the quality and quantity of software instruction offered by various programs.
Careers in Graphic Design
- Advertising display
- Art or design director
- Designer — corporate identity, editorial, environmental graphics, exhibition, package, multimedia, retail identity, sign system, Web
- Production artist
Demand for graphic designers will remain strong as producers of information, goods and services put increasing emphasis on visual appeal in product design, advertising, marketing and television. Excellent design skills, artistic ability and educational background in graphic design must be exhibited in the graphic designer's portfolio. Training in the latest design software technology is critical.
Creative director, average $90,000
Firm owner, partner or principal, average $90,000
Freelance, average $50 per hour
Graphic designer, entry-level, average $32,000
Graphic designer, staff level, average $42,500
Graphic designer, supervisory level, average $56,000
Web designer, range $42,5000-64,000
Graphic design and advertising design are complementary disciplines. Professionals in the field of advertising design combine skills in design, writing, strategic planning and branding to develop integrated multimedia marketing campaigns. Contemporary advertising uses a wide range of media, from television and print to online, interactive and nontraditional new media, to reach and influence specific target audiences.
Advertising design programs typically emphasize professional advertising practice, and coursework often involves real clients. Assignments may include conceptualizing and creating ad campaigns for print, multimedia/interactive applications and broadcast media, including radio and television. Broader career preparation includes an understanding of advertising strategies, theory and more. Field trips to potential clients, advertising agencies, and illustration and photography studios are integral aspects of most programs.
Careers in Advertising Design
- Owner or employee of an ad agency
- Web designer
- Art director
- Advertising copywriter
- Campaign strategist
- Creative director
- Advertising or graphic designer
- Advertising producer
- Marketing manager
- Positions in print advertising, multimedia advertising, production design
College graduates with related experience, a high level of creativity and strong communication skills should have the best job opportunities. Employers will particularly seek those who have the computer skills to conduct advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations and sales activities on the Internet.
According to a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, the average starting salary for advertising design majors graduating in 2006 was $32,037.
Advertising and promotions manager, average $63,610
Art director, range $48,000-70,000
Creative director, range $63,000-100,000
Freelance, $23-50 per hour
Marketing manager, average $87,640
Web designer, range $40,000-56,700