This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

The difference between Graphic Design and Graphic Arts

I am a Graphic Designer. You can call me a Graphic Artist if you want to, but I will wince. It has to do with the degree that I got. The Graphic Design degree was fairly new when I went to ASU, but Graphic Arts wasn't. The Graphic Arts Degree prepared people to work at print shops. In Graphic Arts you learned how to run a printing press, make plates, strip negatives, that sort of thing.

Graphic Design is different. Before it was called Graphic Design, it was called Commercial Art. Personally, I have no trouble being called a Commercial Artist, but I guess it didn't appeal to some people.

Because of this confusion, I started my business calling it "Advertising Art". I dropped the "Advertising" when I made my website in the 90s, and now it's just "Art". So, to understand what a Graphic Designer does, it's best to start with what they don't do.

• A Graphic Designer does not run a printing press. Not to say that they couldn't, but it's not really what we do. That's for someone with a Graphics Arts Degree.

• A Graphic Designer does not do illustration. Again, there is nothing stopping them - I'm also a cartoonist myself. Illustration is done by illustrators, not Graphic Designers. Note that my website says "Graphic Design and Illustration".

• A Graphic Designer is not a photographer. I can take some snapshots, but I leave photography to the pros with a degree in Photography.

• A Graphic Designer does not write the text. The text (or "copy" is the term used in the industry) is written by a copywriter.

Graphic design surrounds us all of the time. But, like a student of mine so wisely said, if it's good, the design fades into the background and only the message is visible. So if you ask me what I did for the promotional piece I did for the Art Institute in 1999, you may ask "Did you write it?", "Did you take the photo?", "Did you do the illustration?", "Did you print it?" I would say no. And if you're wondering what I did, I did the Graphic Design. To me, it's something I'm proud of, it's my art. If you can't see it, I understand. If you can, cool.