October 24, 2015


What do graphic designers do? With a loaded question like this one, there are so many answers that we almost don’t know what to say. To start with, graphic designers are masters of positive and negative space. They can manipulate form to meet function. A design takes on a life of its own and becomes so much more than ink and paper, or pixels on a screen. Graphic designers are artists, marrying the old and new worlds of design to create something entirely unique and intensely real.

So, when asked what do graphic designers do, we simply say this: graphic designers tell stories, one design at a time.


As you’ll learn in graphic design programs or a college for graphic design, being a graphic designer goes beyond simply selecting a nice font and making sure the colors of everything on the page match up. If you think that’s all there is to graphic design, you’re in for a surprise when you try to enter the design industry!

Graphic designers take things in, like human sponges soaking up information from the world around them. During their graphic design education, this information is not only knowledge of art history and color theory, but also typography and composition. From what motivates us to what makes a design work, graphic designers are constantly absorbing and processing the human experience.

To say that graphic design is all about aesthetics is to sell it a bit short. Yes, how a design looks has a great impact on how effective it is. The subtle companion to the obvious visual nature of a design is the driving force behind it. Why does this design look good to you? What makes it work? Does the balance of positive and negative space draw your eye to just the right spot? Does the color of the packaging create a need you’re now driven to fill?


Think of graphic designers as conductors at a symphony concert. They take the sheet music (in our example, the client brief) provided and use skill and experience to coax something beautiful from the orchestra (in this case, Adobe Photoshop or a similar design program) that causes the listener (client’s target audience) to feel something wonderful (for us, to take action and make a purchase).

Through their work, graphic designers ask for, cajole, and occasionally demand the attention of consumers around the world. Every billboard you see, magazine you read, or product you pick up off the shelf at the store has been influenced (if not outright created) by a graphic designer.

Let’s think of a real-world example: a box of macaroni and cheese is not just the food inside… it’s art. Art that makes you suddenly want to be dining on hot, cheesy noodles. That’s the beauty of it! Thanks to the design of the package, you know what’s in the box. The familiar designs (logo, colors, etc.) that you’ve come to associate with the brand tell you that it’s the kind you used to eat when you were a kid. After seeing these things and quickly processing what it all means, into your shopping basket it goes.

What do graphic designers do?


Again, think of graphic designers as tour guides. When you open a magazine, your eyes immediately go to the focal point of the ad on the page you’ve turned to. That big bottle of perfume, for example, is so realistic that you almost feel like you could reach out and touch it.

Your focus shifts to the small circle to the right, which urges you to scratch it a bit and get a whiff of the new fragrance that’s due to hit stores this season. You’re intrigued, so you do scratch and sniff — it smells good, so you wonder where you might be able to buy some.

A large capital letter near the bottom of the page draws in your eyes, and you find the URL of the website where you can learn more, as well as a list of stores that will be carrying the scent very soon!

From first contact to eventual conversion (from consumer to customer), graphic design is there, helping people along the path through visual communications and giving them a window into the vast world of the design industry. This, in a nutshell, is what graphic designers do.


Here at F.I.R.S.T. Institute, we strive every day to be of service to our students and provide them with the very best graphic design education that we can offer. From a faculty composed of experienced design industry professionals to a broad spectrum of courses and a dedicated Career Development department, we do all we can to ensure that our students receive the best possible educational opportunities. We give students access to everything they need to succeed, both in class and on the job.

If you’d like to know more about our Web Development and Graphic Design programs, please give us a call or send us an email! Our admissions team is standing by to answer any questions you might have.

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