What is a graphic designer?


noun: graphic design

  1. the art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books.

The job of a graphic designer

So, what is the job of a graphic designer? Is it just the above? I remember the days the skill was all hands on, you had to be an artist, the ability to draw and paint as well as finding the right typeface to fit the headline.

It’s all change with the introduction of DTP (Desk top publishing) with companies like Quark, Macromedia and Adobe producing awesome software giving us the ability to create our designs on screen.

Don’t get me wrong it took a lot of traditional skills away, typesetting, reprographics, retouching photographs with gouache and not forgetting toxic pantone markers, cow gum and spay mount (TBH I think the fumes helped come up with wild ideas). But like any industry it evolves and moves on.

I had to put down my paint brush and pens and learn to use this metal box and screen that had a mouse attached. I was never a computer person, so this was all alien to me, but it was do or die, so I cracked on with my powerful apple computer with its 2mg of ram and sizeable 10mg hard drive. A handful of not so floppy disks, photoshop V1, Freehand and quark I was quickly churning out brochures, flyers, and newsletters in no time at all and not once getting high on fumes from marker pens or getting bit of typesetting stuck on the bottom of my shoes.

Gone had my arty skills, my little box of pens, paints and scalpels and been replaced with a handful of not so floppy disks.

Floppy disks were great, you could reuse them and could almost get a four page flyer transferred to just 10 disks before sending out for films to be made. But sadly, this cut out the job of the little guy in the dark room who used to make all the films, cut in the negs ready for the plate maker.

As technology moved on so did the design and print industry with skill sets no longer needed, the courier who dropped of our disk to the film maker bureau being replaced with ISDN the ISDN being replaced with broadband. The guy who scanned all our prints being replaced with digital photography to the plate maker who was replaced by a machine connected to a computer, called a digital plate maker.

Websites have moved on so much from the early They are no longer just a text-based bit of information, you can push your brand, products and services out there visually.

These days we design, create and produce designs on a computer. PDF the file and send it via email or upload it to the printers. Super quick turnarounds and delivered to the door next day. (thanks to the very clever IT types and everyone in-between who make this work).

One person doing the job of a designer, typesetter, scanner, artworker and repro guy.

So, am I still just a graphic designer?