Through visual composition, graphic design has the ability to solve problems and communicate messages.
Graphic design is often thrown around as an umbrella term, but the variations of design beneath that umbrella require a slight variation in skillsets, knowledge, and software.
Graphic design can be applied to a variety of mediums in order to make something that is potentially dry and monotonous into something vibrant and exciting.
7 types of graphic design
If you're interested in starting your career as a full-time or freelance graphic designer, becoming familiar with some of the different types of graphic design will be valuable to your job exploration.
What are the types of graphic design?
Below, we'll go over these different types, examples of each, and job titles that align with their respective category. Not sure what software to get started with as you're refining your skills? Find the best graphic design software currently on the market today!
Marketing and advertising professionals would be nothing without their graphic designers. Creative directors and art directors are responsible for things as small as brochure design concepts for designing small marketing materials like brochures and business cards and large projects like entire advertising campaigns. Visual content is engaging and companies rely on effective graphic design in order to tap into the buying decisions of consumers.
These types of designers work with various mediums in order to effectively meet the needs and wants of their clients. While graphic design in the advertising and marketing industries has traditionally been print-centered, it's rapidly expanding to include digital assets. Understanding how to design for both print and digital is crucial for designers looking to break into advertising so that they can confidently meet the needs and wants of any client.
Social media graphics, email marketing templates, and content marketing are just some of the digital uses of marketing and advertising design.
Illustrators - Illustrators are responsible for conceptualizing and creating images that represent a story or idea and can later be used in advertising content. Illustrators can use a variety of methods to get the results they want, from pencils and paint to digital tools and software.
Environmental graphic design
Environmental graphic design embraces elements from multiple disciplines in order to connect people to the places they visit. This may sound idyllic, but by combining graphic, architectural, interior, landscape, and industrial design, environmental graphic designers are able to enhance a person’s experience. Improvements are typically done by making the environment more memorable, informative, or easier to navigate.
Wayfinding, which includes signage or visual cues to indicate where people are and where they should be going, is the core purpose of environmental design. However, its uses go beyond that– such as acting as a communicator for organizations to tell a story or relay a meaningful message to visitors. In order to create designs with this level of sophistication, those who have environmental design jobs must have an understanding of and experience with both graphic design and architecture.
Job titles for graphic designers in environmental design
Associate Designer – Associate designers for environmental design are entry-level graphic designers. This position is a great place for recent graduates to get their feet wet in the world of environmental design.
Draftsman – Drafters work to convert the designs that associate designers, architects, and engineers into drawings. This job becomes a little more technical than the typical graphic design job and requires specialization in architectural, electrical, or mechanical drafting.
Environmental design examples
Publication design traditionally refers to print medium– such as books, magazines, newspapers, etc. However, like many other subsets of graphic design, technological advances have led to new opportunities for its potential use.
Digital publication design utilizes traditional elements of art such as color, typography, and space. Publication designers are able to thoughtfully combine these elements to create content that is able to be perceived visually, on a digital platform. This includes e-books, email newsletters, magazine layout, etc. Most people who have a publication design job work for a publishing company, as a freelancer or as a part of a creative agency.
Job titles for graphic designers in publication
Production artist – both a technical and creative profession, the job title assigns paste-up, or layout work to the position. Production artists work with the designer and art director in an agency to ensure that everything is in the right place. This position often requires extensive knowledge of print production, design software, and creativity.
Layout artists – A layout artist is responsible for designing the structure of images and texts in a format that is pleasing to the eye, primarily for printed media. This includes magazines, posters, books, and brochures.
DTP artist – DTP (desktop publishing) artists are responsible for translating the designs of illustrators and art directors into a digital format in preparation for print or online publication. Typically, DTP artists are skilled in multiple design and desktop publishing software programs.
Publication design examples
If you're not involved in the field of graphic design, you must be asking yourself “what is motion design?” However, this fairly new graphic design style is much less confusing than its name suggests and has become a versatile style choice for graphic designers. Motion design is the generation of pieces of digital graphics, which create the illusion of motion or rotation. You can find traditional uses of motion design the opening of movies, television shows or news productions. Today, examples of motion design are found across all digital platforms, such as in GIFs, apps, website design, etc.
Within the last ten years, motion design has increased in popularity as our society continues to digitize. Technological advancements have given designers the opportunity to explore the value that this medium has to offer. Be sure to stay on top of the latest design trends to keep one step ahead of the competition.
Job titles for graphic designers in motion design
Motion graphics designer – These designers are trained in traditional graphic design and integrate other elements into their existing knowledge of design. They may also come from a background of filmmaking or video production with the ability to use animation to enhance stagnant graphics.
Motion design examples
Title sequences and end credits
Corporate design is utilized by organizations to express the relationship between a brand and its audience. The visual elements of a brand identity act as the company’s face for communicating its tone, personality, and essence. Intangible elements such as color, shapes, and imagery all elicit certain feelings for an audience and dictate how a consumer perceives the brand.
Keeping a brand consistent is essential to corporate design, since consumers respond to recognizable visual media. Typically, within corporate identity design, designers collaborate with brand stakeholders to create products such as typography, logos, color palettes, and image libraries. Then, designers will create a corporate design guideline, to ensure that visual branding is applied consistently throughout all current and future applications.
Job titles for graphic designers in corporate design
Brand identity designer – When a company is just getting on its feet, visual representation of their products and services are essential in order to relate to an audience, no matter who that audience may be. Brand identity designers may work within an advertising agency to make sure that a client has a sturdy visual brand identity by updating the logo, typography, color palette, and assets.
Logo designer – The responsibilities are right there in the title. A logo designer is responsible for going through the logo design process with a client and ultimately delivering a logo that aligns with the brand. Logo designers often work for advertising agencies but can also work as freelancers.
Web designer – these people employ concepts of graphic design in order to create a responsive web design that is cohesive and user-friendly through the use of UX and UI design.
When you look on the shelves of any retailer, grocery store, etc., nearly every item comes in some sort of packaging. While this packaging serves as protection for merchandise, companies also recognize the opportunity that product packaging design presents. Through strategically implementing color, shape, and typography, packaging becomes a way for companies to communicate their brand's personality and story directly to their consumers.
Retail, makeup, and food packaging design are just a few of the countless industries where this style of design is a valuable marketing tool. Effective packaging design has the ability to give a product “shelf impact,” which can greatly boost sales for a company. For packaging designers, this means it is crucial to have a keen understanding of not only graphic design but also successful product marketing tactics.
It's only the beginning
With a better understanding of where your graphic design skills can take you, it's not a bad idea to start taking a look at what opportunities are out there for you. Becoming a graphic designer in any of these areas is an unparalleled opportunity to leave your mark on the world.
Emily Goorevich is a former content marketing intern at G2, and currently works as an SEO Specialist at L2TMedia. She is originally from Maryland, and loves reading, listening to podcasts, and eating falafel.