What Is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is the process of communicating ideas and information through visual forms of content.

Written by Matthew Urwin
Published on Dec. 16, 2021
What Is Graphic Design?
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
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Trent Victor | Aug 11, 2022

Images, colors, symmetry, and typography are just some of the visual elements graphic designers utilize daily to present audiences with an optimal on-page experience. Graphic design can be used in a variety of ways, whether it’s promoting products, constructing a brand identity, or creating visuals in a non-commercial setting.

What are the types of graphic design?

From physical materials to digital products, graphic design has blossomed into a discipline of various forms.

Broad in nature, graphic design has left its mark on numerous industries. Advertisements and packages are two common areas where graphic design plays a crucial role in presenting products and services. Publications such as books and magazines also require the attentive eye of graphic designers. While these traditional formats continue to thrive, the types of graphic design have grown alongside technology.   

A new age of artistic innovation has led to web design, which applies graphic design principles to organize web pages. More recently, graphic design has become a key component of the gaming industry as companies attempt to make their games more accessible. With a strong foothold in a range of sectors, graphic design has become a diverse field for professionals to explore.

What is the difference between graphic design and graphic art?

Graphic design and graphic art may sound similar, but the two disciplines feature unique characteristics and serve different purposes. 

Besides existing as print and digital forms of visual communication, graphic design and graphic art go their separate ways. Graphic art focuses more on presenting a message for the purpose of storytelling. While graphic design also centers around communication, it more often harnesses visual communication to get audiences to take action.   

Graphic design supports the needs of businesses by tailoring a brand, product or service to the preferences of target audiences. Whether it’s cultural inclusion or increased readability, graphic design prioritizes the needs of audiences. As a result, graphic design is often a more collaborative discipline and requires professionals to become consumer-oriented.


How can I learn graphic design? 

There is no concrete path for graphic designers to follow, leaving the door open for aspiring designers to forge their own route.

Those starting out in the graphic design field can leverage a rich collection of resources. Online bootcamps and courses help beginners develop a solid foundation that they can build off as they dive into more topics. Aspiring designers can also access tutorials to learn programs like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. 

While artistic and technical skills are important, graphic designers need to be comfortable with the human aspect of their work. Freelance and entry-level opportunities give designers the chance to collaborate across teams, incorporate audience interests, and even help lead projects. With a balance of design and project management skills, graphic designers can craft a well-rounded portfolio.

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