Color swatch book and other graphic design tools

From the layout of a restaurant menu to the large images seen on billboards, graphic designers use their artistic abilities to help others interpret the world around them. Elements such as colors, shapes, images, and text are all used to capture the viewer’s eye and command focus towards a certain thought or action, much like a photographer does with a camera.

How Graphic Designers Work

Up until the early 1990s, graphic designers worked at drafting tables, laying out text and artwork by hand. This technique is still used today, although most graphic artists work on a computer with software tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. The ability to sketch by hand is still important though; it’s how graphic artists explore concepts and share ideas with clients.

If a graphic designer is part of a marketing or development team, they often work inside a studio with other creative talent. Some companies have multiple graphic artists due to their specialties in areas like video animation, photography, or illustration. Others may work in a freelance capacity and handle many client accounts at once, either in person or remotely.

Graphic design entails communicating an idea or concept visually. Graphic art professionals leverage typography, color, images, shapes, photography, and other design elements to bring an idea or story to life. They also work extensively with words, determining where things like taglines, paragraphs, and call to actions will fit on the page. Most of these decisions are made by the graphic artist during the preliminary phases of the design.

What Graphic Designers Do

It’s hard to look anywhere in the world today without spotting the creative brilliance of a graphic designer. Every brand has a unique story to tell, so designers use art and technology to create designs that will be appealing to the intended consumers. They usually handle every step of the design process from concepting to creating the final deliverables that are used online or in print.

Here is just a short list of what graphic designers do on a daily basis:

  • Obtain input from clients to create concepts
  • Decide on specific colors, images, text, styles, and layouts
  • Draw images and logos by hand or with design software
  • Implement style, shading, art, and other highlights to designs
  • Use design, animation, and editing software
  • Keep up with the latest design trends and techniques
  • Collaborate with other graphic designers, copywriters, and marketers

It’s also worth noting that the need for graphic design spans across all industries and a wide variety of formats, from presentations to product packaging to email design. While some designers may specialize in certain industries or types of projects like corporate branding, most are versatile.

How to Attract Top Graphic Designers

Since graphic design covers many different artistic styles, it’s essential to provide as much detail as possible when posting a project description. Keep in mind that many people use the term “job description,” but a full job description is only needed for employees. When engaging a freelancer as an independent contractor, you typically just need a statement of work, job post, or any other document that describes the work to be done. The project description should include information such as:

  • A description of your company and the overall goals of the design project
  • The main message being conveyed and the target audience
  • The deliverables you need, including the file format, size of the design, and how it will be displayed
  • The budget and overall timelines for the project

It can help prospective designers if some samples of prior work are included to give a better idea of what you’re looking for and a sense of your company’s branding. If you have a brand style guide, you may want to share it with your designer. It’s also a good idea to share examples of related design work that you find appealing.

Here’s a sample graphic designer job post:

<Project Title>

We’re searching for a talented graphic designer to help us bring our next campaign to life. We’re looking for someone to design a series of five postcards to send to prospective insurance clients. Please see the attached document for examples of our past campaigns.

Deliverables needed:

Five postcard designs for prospective insurance clients completed by <date>.

Skills needed:

  • Excellent graphic design skills
  • Understanding of marketing campaigns
  • Mastery of Adobe Photoshop
  • Insurance industry knowledge a major plus

Additionally, please give a brief 1-2 paragraph summary of your design experience and why you feel like you’d be a great fit for this work. Also include two relevant samples that show your best design work and creativity. Our max budget for this project is approximately $1,250, and the project fee will be determined by the freelancer.

This project is expected to start by <date> and we would like to select the right freelancer this week.

Read this article for more tips on how to write a great project description.

Selecting the Right Graphic Designer

Top graphic designers will be quick to answer any questions, plus they’ll be able to give numerous insights to solve your design goals. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions that will help reveal each freelancer’s design style and overall talent. In addition to interviewing the freelancer, you can review portfolios, samples of past work, and feedback from other clients. Choosing the right freelancer will often come down to the artist with the best communication skills and ability to create impactful designs.