Graphic designers produce designs that use images and words to get across ideas and information.
Working to a 'brief' from a client, senior designer or account executive, they create designs for adverts, packaging, menus, books, posters, letterheads, company logos and magazines.
You could be:
- discussing with your client the aim of the project (the brief), how the design should look and how much it should cost
- thinking up ideas and producing a series of computer visuals, or drawing a series of sketches to show the client
- using specialist design software, such as InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop
- making any changes as requested by the client, such as changing images or text
- keeping to the budget and time scale for the work
- presenting the final design to the client for approval
- proofreading the final artwork and preparing the files for print
- if you work freelance, showing your portfolio to employers to get more work.
Pay rates vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
Starting salaries for qualified graphic designers in the UK tend to be in the range of £18,000 to £20,000 a year. Senior graphic designers can earn from £25,000 to £35,000 a year or more.
Some graphic designers work freelance. They charge a fee, possibly between £20 and £40 an hour, depending on the work – the average hourly rate is around £20 to £30. The better known they are, the more they can charge.
- You would work in a design studio or office, usually with a team of other designers.
- If you work freelance you would work from home or share a studio space.
- You would liaise with print representatives and staff, clients, marketing professionals and sometimes photographers.
- You might travel to visit exhibitions, clients and printers.
- You would work regular hours, but would have to work some evenings and weekends to meet deadlines.
- You may be able to work part time.
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- You usually need a Higher National Diploma (HND) or degree in graphic design, visual communication or art and design.
- For entry to an HND you usually need 1-2 Highers, for a degree, 4-5 Highers, normally including English and Art and Design.
- You also need a very good portfolio of artwork.
- You could start by taking a National Certificate (NC) or National Qualification (NQ) (formal entry requirements not always needed) or a Higher National Certificate (HNC) (1-2 Highers needed for entry) in a graphic design subject. This might get you a job, perhaps as an assistant graphic designer, or lead on to an HND or degree.
- Good computer skills are essential.
For art school courses you need to apply through UCAS. Some courses have a closing date of 15th January and others have the closing date of 24th March.
You could work with advertising agencies, design studios, publishing companies or broadcasting companies.
Predicted Employment in Scotland
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What Does it Take?
You need to be:
- artistic, creative and imaginative, with a good eye for colour and design
- skilled in using graphics software
- ambitious and motivated
- accurate, with excellent attention to detail
- good at listening to other people and explaining your own ideas
- aware of commercial pressures
- confident and outgoing, to sell work to clients.
You need to be able to:
- accept criticism of your work
- keep up to date with new design trends
- organise your own workload
- work to strict deadlines
- understand different printing processes
- work alone and as part of a team.
- Training is through experience, on the job, learning new skills for projects you work on.
- You will need to keep up to date with changes in graphic design software and technology throughout your career.
- The Chartered Society of Designers offers a programme of continuous professional development.
- You may start as an assistant graphic designer doing routine tasks.
- You could then move on to be a graphic designer, then a senior graphic designer, leading a team.
- You might move into a management job, which would mean doing less design work.
- You might move to a larger company to gain wider experience and perhaps a higher salary.
- You might move into design research, a new but growing field, based on either academic or market needs.
- With experience, you might work freelance, or set up your own company.
The Creative and Cultural Skills website has a careers section called Creative Choices which has information on working in the design industry.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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