What Does a Graphic Designer Do?

Graphic designers spend most of their time working on computers.

If you've ever marveled at the graphics on a website or the fonts used in a magazine ad, you have a graphic designer to thank for putting those images together. Utilizing a mouse, a keyboard and computer design software, graphic designers create one-of-a-kind images for newspapers, magazines, books, websites, posters and other publications and visual media. If you're interested in a career as a graphic designer, your exact responsibilities vary by where you work, but there are some primary duties you can count on having anywhere.

Meeting and Consulting With Clients

Whether you're a self-employed graphic designer or you work for a company, you meet directly with clients or art directors to discuss their visions and needs for a project. From magazine ads to website graphics, you discuss the colors and themes they want used, the size of the project and the overall message they want to convey. You might sketch up rough drafts and take notes during your meeting for you to reference once you sit down at your computer and the real work begins. If you're self-employed, you also need to compile an estimate or quote to make sure you're compensated fairly for your services.

Developing Graphics and Images

Just as the job title suggests, your primary duty is creating graphic designs. With a mouse in hand and an arsenal of computer design software at your disposal, you use computers to create designs to meet your client needs. You might work with advertising writers or other professionals to determine text for your creations, as you determine the perfect font, size, color and word alignment to complement the images in your designs. You might utilize photographs in your designs, either supplied by the client or found on your own. If your drawing skills are up to snuff, you might even draw up your own computer illustrations.

Presenting Designs to Clients and Publishers

Before your designs can go live on a website or be sent off for publishing, they need to be approved by your clients or art director. You must meet with them again and present your finished design. They provide feedback and might request that you change or rework the design. If any edits are requested, you head back to the drawing board and change up the design to better conform to the client requests.


If you're a self-employed graphic designer, you'll spend a lot of time marketing your services and trying to attract new clients. You might do this by taking out ads in local publications, advertising through online posts or by networking at conventions and fairs. Word of mouth can also help bring in new clients.

2016 Salary Information for Graphic Designers

Graphic designers earned a median annual salary of $47,640 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, graphic designers earned a 25th percentile salary of $35,560, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $63,340, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 266,300 people were employed in the U.S. as graphic designers.

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