What is Graphic Design? 6 Essential Skills Every Designer Needs

What is graphic design? It’s a career that holds a great deal of possibility, but also requires a variety of skills.

Contrary to popular belief, graphic designers don’t simply design business cards or logos. As a graphic designer in today’s business world, you need to possess the professional and design skills needed to get ahead in any industry you choose to work in.

So, what is graphic design?

Simply put, graphic design is the ability to generate visual ideas and concepts, and portray them through digital or hand-drawn techniques, in order to meet a business need or solve a business problem. Graphic design work can be anything from packaging design, logos and graphics design to print layouts, billboards, websites and mobile applications. For a more detailed analysis, read our article here.

Graphic designers can therefore work in almost any industry where their skills are required. This means that outside of design or advertising agencies, they’re likely to form part of marketing and other teams within a business. Just another good reason why Red & Yellow believes in developing multi-skilled graduates in our graphic design diploma and degree courses.

Playing different roles and tackling a range of tasks takes more than just being a master of Adobe CS. Here are 6 essential skills every designer needs in order to succeed:

1). A thick skin

Criticism is undoubtedly a constant part of your training as a designer. More often than not this should be constructive criticism, but you will encounter objections to your work on almost every project. Graphic designers need to learn how to take this in their stride from early on, and keep an open mind when dealing with clients, team members and lecturers.

It’s important for graphic designers to not become too attached to their work. It’s a well-known fact that the first iteration will not be the last! Good designers take client preference into account, try to find a compromise, and / or use every project as a learning experience. This is the best attitude to take, and an essential skill in protecting yourself from unnecessary headcahes over blighted design work. 🙂


Source: imgur.com

2). Good taste

Kitsch will never be cool 🙂 As a designer, you need to have inherently good taste. You must know what makes things look beautiful; in colours, spacing, and fonts. Clients and colleagues will look to you for creative guidance, and you will need to apply the principles of design in the best way possible. Consider yourself a visual connoisseur – it’s a fancy title for being an excellent designer.

3). Insight

Creative people come in all shapes and sizes, but all designers must be great observers of people. What makes them tick? Why do they do the things they do? How does their environment effect them? Without keen powers of observation and curiosity (and a decent amount of research), it’s impossible to discover the all-important insights that will underpin your creative concepts. To have your work resonate with your audience and effectively communicate the message you’re trying to get across, you need to understand  how to discover those universal, human truths that drive us in all that we do.

4). Great ideas

From great insight, comes great ideas. The best ideas are not usually the ones that require the most budget, or even the most work – they’re the ideas that turn the norm on its head and make people say “I wish I’d thought of that!”. As a designer, it’s important that you’re able to interpret things differently and come up with original and effective ways to communicate your message through design.


5). Self-discipline

Designers often work alone. Once a project is underway, graphic designers usually work individually to complete their part of the work. In companies or agencies, designers work on the clock for billable hours, which (in theory) makes time management easier. However, freelance designers have more freedom in their schedules, which means that they need to be very self-disciplined in order to get work done on time.


6). Attention to detail 

The devil is in the detail, as they say. It’s essential for a designer to be detail oriented. Even the simplest of designs requires you to pay attention to small details such as kerning, font, colours, alignment, spelling, and more. Ensuring all elements of your design are perfect means that the overall design will be that much more aesthetically pleasing – and you’re less likely to have to make changes later.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a graphic designer? Take our skills test or apply now for 2017 degree and diploma courses!

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