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What a Graphic Designer is

When I got my degree in Graphic Design, the term was still fairly new, and confusing to many people. The term *Commercial Artist* had been used, but really, that applied more to Illustrators than Graphic Designers. Since I've spent all of my adult life doing, and teaching, Graphic Design, I've had many opportunities to try to explain it. I will try again here, and I'll start with what it's not.

• A Graphic Designer is not an illustrator. Sure, a lot of Graphic designers can Draw, and it's related, but it's not the same thing. But most Graphic Designers start out by having an interest in drawing. I liked comics and cartooning. But the more I learned about Graphic Design, the more I knew that I could it, and there was a bigger market for it. Most graphic Designers, by the way, are not only Graphic Designers. Most are also photographers, or illustrators.

• A Graphic Designer isn't someone who works on a computer. The computer (usually a Mac) is simply the medium, such as paint would be. This doesn't stop a lot of people, unfortunately, from imagining themselves to be Graphic Designers simply because they are using Photoshop on a Mac.

• A Graphic Designer isn't just someone who designs logos. Designing logos seems to be what most people imagine Graphic Designers are doing all day. Sure, designing logos is part of what Graphic Designers do, but for me it was such a small part that it hardly mattered. When I worked for Blue Cross of California in Los Angeles, and Bank One Arizona, some people asked if I spent my days redesigning the logo. I think they meant well, and just wanted to keep the conversation going. By the way, I designed the logo that I still use to this day in college, when I started freelancing Graphic Design.

Explaining what a Graphic Designer is is a little more difficult. I've seen people absolutely give up on any attempt to understand. At its essence, a Graphic Designer is in charge of how visual elements come together. Sounds abstract? It is! It's abstract art, so if you don't understand abstract art, I guess you can give up trying to understand Graphic Design.

A higher level of Graphic Design is an Art Director. You may have even seen that in the credits of movies. The highest level of Graphic Design is a Creative Director. As you go higher and higher in the ranks, the job becomes increasingly abstract. And, the higher the abstraction, the more money it pays. People who are good with design, and creativity, are rare, and are well-rewarded.

I hope that this helps. If it doesn't, take a beginning class in Graphic Design at your local community college. Art is learned by seeing, and by doing, not by talking about it. It's an entirely different language, and if you can learn that language, you can be successful.