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Graphic Designer
Artists

Graphic Designer
What They Do:
Graphic Design is a substantial part of the visual arts, encompassing illustration, graphic design, printing, displays and signs, advertising, photography . . . all printed material. The commercial artist is distinguished from the fine artist in that the product of the Graphic Designer is used for a functional or "practical" purpose. Graphic Designers work for magazines, newspapers, corporations, publishers, advertising agencies, public and private institutions, department stores, printing and manufacturing companies.

Graphic Design is one the largest branches of commercial art. Graphic Design includes the occupation of art director, layout artist, production manager, paste-up technician and computer artist. Graphic designers are concerned with ideas and problem solving to effectively meet the visual communication needs of clients. The graphic designer creates a plan for the printed page (a layout), organizes the elements for an effective design, and selects the type, illustrations and/or photos to be used in the printed piece.

Illustration is the profession closest to fine art. Illustrators may be generalists, taking any assignment given, or specialize in areas such as cartooning or book illustration. Often an artist's style and personal interests will determine the area of specialty. Some illustrators work only in black and white; others become specialists in color, style, or a particular technique in the illustration of products, people or animals.

Who Would Enjoy It:
A career in graphic design is an excellent choice for a person who enjoys working with people and coming up with innovative ideas that are a purposeful combination of imagination and information. A successful designer will have the ability to come up with unique but appropriate concepts for commercial purposes in advertising and marketing products and services.

What They Earn:
Entry-level graphic design positions can vary from $9.00 to $14.00 per hour, depending on the employment situation and responsibilities. Salaried positions can start at $19,000 to $24,000. Designers with 2-year Associate's in Applied Arts degrees employed by the State of Michigan in 1996 earned an average of $37,000 per year, with salaries ranging from $20,000 to $43,000 a year.

How Many Jobs Available:
The outlook for employment in graphic design for the future indicate average growth through the year 2006. Employment in all advertising and design occupations is directly linked to the economy. The skill set required for employment is constantly upgraded as new hardware and software solutions emerge. The competition for higher levels of employment is high and all employment is based on the quality and content of a portfolio of examples of work presented for employment.

How Much Schooling, Training, or Skill Development:
Entry into the profession of graphic design is directly related to the evidence of skills displayed in a prospective employee's portfolio. Many employers (such as the State of Michigan) require a minimum of a 2-year college degree for attainment of positions at certain levels, and will often prefer a Bachelor's degree.

Related Occupations:
Animation, Multimedia, Web Design, Architecture and Interior Design. Also see, Computer Graphics Animation, Computer Graphics Web Design

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Artists
What They Do:
Painters, sculptors, and illustrators create original artwork using a variety of methods and media that are known as fine arts.  Usually, fine artists specialize in one or two art forms.  They usually display their work in museums, art galleries, collections, and private homes.  Most of what they create is sold by the artist or through private galleries or dealers.  Only the most successful are able to support themselves solely through the sale of their work.

Illustrators additionally create pictures for books, magazines, and other publications for commercial products like textiles, papers, stationery, cards, and calendars.  Some illustrators work in the digital format.  Cartoonists or Sequential Artists, draw political and sports cartoons, advertising, social and sports cartoons, comic books, and graphic novels.  Multi-media Artists and Animators create special effects, animation or other visual images on film, video or computers and other electronic media.  They work primarily in motion picture, and video industries, advertising and computer systems design.  Some draw (by hand using computers) storyboards for television commercials, movies, and animated features.

Training Requirements for Artists:
These can vary by specialty.  Many colleges and universities as well as independent schools of art and design offer programs leading to degrees in the fine arts.

Formal Educational Programs:
In the art field these also provide training in computer techniques.  Computers are widely used in the visual arts and knowledge and training in computer graphics and other visual display software are important in many jobs in these fields.

Where Employed:
Of all artists, more than half are self-employed.  Of those not self-employed, many work in advertising; newspaper, periodical, book, and software publishers; motion picture and video industries; specialized design services; and computer systems design.

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Art, Design and Multimedia at Lansing Community College

Communication, Media and the Arts Department
Gannon Bldg, Room 131
Phone: (517) 483-1546
Additional contact information »