What catches your attention when you look at a website, advertisement or brochure? There’s a good chance that your answer will be its visual appearance. It’s a proven fact that poor designs can turn people away, while good designs keep them interested. Graphic designers have the all-important task of making sure that the latter is true!

Lana Faasen, graphic designer for Oxbridge Academy, tells us more about this creative profession.


What are the main responsibilities of a graphic designer?

Graphic designers are responsible for creating the layouts for adverts, websites, brochures or documents. We need to be able to create visual concepts that are unique, attractive and able to captivate or inform consumers. At the end of the day, we have a big role to play in shaping the identity of a brand.


What type of personality should you have to be a graphic designer?

You need to be very creative, both in the sense of coming up with fresh ideas and in creating the actual designs. You should be able to think outside the box and have some artistic ability. At the same time, you need to be logical in terms of creating designs that speak to your target market and promote what the company stands for. Good communication skills and being able to work in a team is important too. You might be working closely with copywriters, website developers, art directors and management. If you are working in an agency, then you need to communicate well with clients and be adaptable enough to meet their needs.


Can you describe the process for a typical graphic design project?

  • Your day might start with a brief from your company or, if you are employed in an agency, a client. The brief will have specifications about what is needed. It might be the design of a brochure or a logo, or it could be for an online advert or billboard. Depending on your client, you might be designing visuals for anything from promotional merchandise to packaging.
  • The next step is to do research on the product, the company and the target market. You should be looking at what visuals and concepts other companies have used, because your work has to be unique. If you find that your idea has already been used, you need to come up with another one. If, for example, you use a logo very similar to another company, you may be infringing on copyright laws.
  • Next, I will sit down and start “scamping”. This means that I start sketching ideas for what the design will look like. This allows me to start putting ideas onto paper and playing around with different options.
  • You then normally need to present between three and five ideas to the client. Once the client settles on a single concept, you can start working on refining it.
  • Your final step will be to create the actual design using various computer software tools. Depending on the size and workload of a project, the job can take a few days or a few weeks.


What knowledge and skills do you need on the job?

You need to have artistic skills and know the principles of design. These include things like colour, alignment, space and balance. You also need to be able to work well with the software used. This mainly includes Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. You can’t be a graphic designer by only knowing the principles of design or only knowing how to use the software; you need a combination of both.


How does someone become a graphic designer?

Ideally you should obtain a graphic design diploma or related qualification in order to not only learn the basic concepts and principles of design, but also gain practical experience. However, you can start building a good foundation by completing relevant Adobe short courses, as these programmes will give you a thorough understanding of world-class design software.


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