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What is Graphic Design?

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Graphic Design in its most basic sense is the art, skill or practice of creating visuals which may incorporate typography, logos, illustrations, informational graphics, photography or even video. These visuals may be used as branding for businesses or as elements in print publications, websites or other digital media.

Sometimes referred to as Communication Design, Graphic Design is an art form that usually combines a few or many different visual elements into one. This can be as simple as an illustration added to typography, to create a logo. However, in some cases, only one element may be necessary.

Graphic Designer is a very broad term and is often based on what the individual designer has an interest in. Graphic Designers may find themselves filling the roles of email designers, web designers, editorial designers, illustrators, sign writers, photographers, and other creative jobs. Whilst some designers choose to specialize in one industry or media such as packaging design or 3d design, most will have at some point used their skills in an alternative role and for some, including us, the role of a Graphic Designer is to be a fit all puzzle piece, capable of slotting into any role that involves creative problem-solving with a visual outcome.

Most, if not all business will at some point need a graphic designer. Large companies often have an in-house design department at their disposal, with teams of individual designers controlling specific areas of the business. Whilst one team may focus solely on the print or marketing assets, another team will be continually working on the elements that make up the website. Website teams design not only how a website looks and fits with the brand as a whole, but also how easy or nice it is to use. Other in-house teams may also include email designers, product designers, and photography departments. If a company has the resources to print in-house there may also be a reprographics department that is responsible for overseeing the print process and the finished quality of prints as well as often maintaining the print machinery.

Other companies that are smaller, or do not require visuals on a daily basis to uphold the running of their businesses, may only reach out to external graphic designers occasionally. They may choose to use a single freelance designer or a design agency or studio.

These companies may only need a Designer when they are starting up and require a logo, website or stationery, or when they are looking to change or create a new specific asset or document, this could be a prospectus, brochure or updated business cards or letterheads. Occasionally a company may be changing its services or be looking to change its identity to something that it feels better represents who they are now, or often who they want to become.

As a Graphic Designer this rebranding process starts with the understanding of where the company is coming from, what they want or need (not always the same thing) and ends with the completion and production of the design and finally the physical or digital hand over of a copy of all of the elements the company will need to uphold its new identity, the designer may be asked to create a brand guidelines document that will stand as a set of rules dictating how the branding is to be used this may include positions and sizes for logos, colors, company typefaces and uses, and font sizes.

Over the years we have worked on both sides of the design world, as both designers in a creative agency and, as part of teams in-house, whilst continuing to offer freelance services on the side. We now use these skills to offer a range of design services built upon your needs. Take a look at examples of ad hoc freelance work in our Your Italian Wedding Planner, case study, or Visit our MAHI Leather project page to see how we can be integrated into an existing team as consultants and designers.

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