The job titles of graphic designer and graphic artist often are used interchangeably, but actually, they are quite different careers. Actually, you can offend people in either role if you use the wrong title. In essence, a graphic designer is a commercial designer of products and websites. A graphic artist is a fine artist who works in a graphic medium, creating work for a fine arts context that is not necessarily commercial. The two fields require different skills that occasionally overlap, and they both require strong visual aesthetics.
A graphic designer solves visual communication problems. This can involve creating a website design that is user-friendly and interactive, or creating packaging for a product that catches the eye and conveys visually a business's mission. The goals of graphic design in the commercial world are to get a consumer to do act, purchase from a website, look at an ad or open an envelope. These actions are the main goal, and visual aesthetics are a means to those ends.
A graphic artist is a fine artist who uses a graphic sensibility in her work. Examples of graphic artworks are fine artworks, comics, poster designs and illustrations. A graphic artist can work in the commercial world designing logos, or she can be a fine artist working outside of business. Graphic arts can be a creative endeavor for the sake of creating.
Education and Skills
Graphic designers often receive advanced degrees in graphic design. Major universities such as the School of Visual Arts in New York, which has one of the top programs, allows further specialization with concentrations in package design, publication design and website design. This university also teaches graphic arts in the Fine Arts and Illustration Department, which allows for concentrations on different art media, book illustration or clothing.
The primary difference between being a graphic designer and a graphic artist is the solving of problems. A graphic designer approaches her work with the goal of getting consumers to do what clients desire. Graphic artists, on the other hand, have a much greater range of creativity, and they focus on the aesthetics of what they make and how it communicates or expresses an idea. The ability to communicate visually is key in both fields, but the methods and goals vary.
Grace Bordelon is a public relations professional, teacher and writer. She owns her own boutique public relations firm that specializes in the advertising, gaming and software industries. She also teaches at a major design school for fine artists, commercial artists and graphic designers. Bordelon holds a B.A. in international economics and an M.A. in English from Bard College.