So I Heard You Like Graphic Design


There are many influences on the evolution of graphic design. Graphic design changes as rapidly, if not quicker, than human kind changes and adapts. This evolution creates an ever growing and changing job market for graphic design. Graphic design jobs are much different than they used to be. They are now more self-sufficient and have a different level of skill required. This paper will address the history of graphic design and its modern influence on jobs.

The New Age of Graphic Design

Have you ever wondered how logos on internet web sites are made? What about animated commercials on television? Well, they are both created by a graphic designer or part of a team of different designers. A graphic designer is a person who uses a variety of mediums, such as photography and typography, to form a creative design. Graphic designers produce or are part of a team that produces many everyday items, from packaging labels to road signs. Graphic design as we know it, has been completely changed by the digital revolution, which has changed the job market for graphic designers, and their influence on everyday life.


Graphic design started around the same time, if not sooner than, written language (Eshbaugh 1, 2010). Most of the graphic design is this time was embellishments on documents, early forms of book arts, and things of this nature, along with the art on pottery and cave walls. As technology has evolved, from its simplest forms to more advanced forms, graphic design has flourished. Advancements in civilization like the invention of paper by the Chinese, the printing press by Gutenberg and the development of the computer all affected the development of the art of graphic design (Eshbaugh 1, 2010).

The digital revolution spiked the evolution of graphic design. When Apple created the Macintosh computers in the 1980s, Postscript invented the Adobe system, a page-layout system that generates typography electronically (Meggs 488, 2006). These inventions, among others, paved the way for modernizing graphic design. Some individuals really reached into developing digital graphic design. For example, April Greiman, a graphic designer, started to figure out how to layer and edit typography with pictures from videos, all on the computer. Greiman is considered the pioneer of utilizing computer technology (Meggs 490, 2006).


The development of the internet has been both a blessing and a curse. The internet was originally created by scientists to easily transfer information. The internet has been infinitely important to graphic designers around the world, advancing the technology associated with graphic design in addition to making graphic design a more global market (Graphic Design (art) 8, 2010). When the internet was accessed by the public, designers were hired to 'decorate' the web pages (Smith 2010). These designers, typically graphic designers, made websites that were more appealing to the public. On the other hand, the internet is taking away the human aspect of graphic design, because now people can use pre-made website designs and layouts when they make an internet page. This limits the amount of graphic designers needed (Graphic Design Online 2011).

There are prominent tools that are essential for graphic designers to utilize today. The most important tool would be the software program Photoshop. Photoshop was developed in 1990, and is one of the ten most important inventions in the 20th century in the graphic design world (Graphic Design Key Moments 2011). Photoshop is a computer program that allows you to do most art styles and layer them on top of anything else, creating an unique picture. Photoshop is a complex tool that has more possibilities than you could imagine. There are many uses for Photoshop, such as overlaying a design onto an image. Along with Photoshop, graphic designers use other tools such as Illustrator and InDesign. In comparison, Illustrator is a vector program and Photoshop is rastor. The vector aspect makes scaling an object easier. In Photoshop, if you try to change the size of an image it becomes pixilated. This doesn't happen with images drawn in Illustrator. InDesign is a major tool for the layout aspect of graphic design.

There are many forms of graphic design. Common uses of graphic design include identity (logos and branding), web sites, publications (magazines, newspapers, and books), advertisements and product packaging (Cramsie 205, 2010). Graphic design is more prominent in everyday life than the average person realizes. When an average person looks at a movie poster, they don't say, 'That [graphic] designer did a good job in their organization', they think about how good the movie looks from the poster layout (Smith 2010). Everyday people take graphic design for granted. When you look at a bag of M&Ms, do you think about the effort put into the design? Would you rather just eat a candy from a plain brown bag or a brown bag with colorful candies and a logo? Graphic design is taken for granted, but subliminally works in favor of consumers. Advertisers work with graphic designers in hopes of more sales due to the aesthetics pleasing the customer.

To be a graphic designer there are different majors that you could take to become one. The common major in a non-art institution would be graphic design. This major just covers graphic design, not other design aspects such as studio art or web design. Most professional graphic designers attend art schools. There are other majors that are centralized around graphic design and other similar design programs, such as the new media major at the University of Maine at Orono. This major is a broad major covering graphic design, website building, animating, etc (Philosophy 2010). Requirements to start graphic design related majors vary around the world. At some schools you don't even need a portfolio to get into the major, others require a portfolio of hand drawn pictures, along with digitally made pictures (Admissions 2010). New Media at the University of Maine doesn't require a portfolio to get into the major, but it does require a portfolio after the first year in the major (Philosophy 2010).

There are many specific skills required to become a graphic designer. One such skill is a graphic designer being adept in the visual arts. Visual art, in graphic design, is when you change something from traditional media, such as drawings or pottery, to photography and/or computer art (Eskilson 157, 2007). What is computer art? Well, computer art is when something is designed or drawn using a computer. Computer art is essential to modern graphic designers, especially now that most graphic design projects are computer based (Graphic Design (art) 8, 2010).


Another important skill is typography. Typography was one of the first skills to evolve over time. Until the Digital Age, typography was a specialized occupation. Digitization opened up typography to new generations of visual designers and lay users (Eskilson 160, 2007). Now everyday people use typography that has been stylized by many different graphic designers and generated computer programmers. Graphic designers use type in more abstract ways than everyday people.

Page layout is another essential skill that is needed to be a graphic designer. Page layout is now easier, due to the use of computers with Photoshop programs and even Word documents. Page layout though does not mean website layout though. Designing a Web site involves the layout of screens of information rather than of pages, but approaches to the use of type, images, and color are similar to those used for print (Graphic Design (art) 8, 2010). Page layout is major skill to perfect, because almost everything a graphic designer does requires some form of layout on a page, including picture making. InDesign is the major tool of choice in this part of the graphic design field.

There are many job opportunities for graphic designers. They could be freelance and/or hired by a company. Graphic designers are usually required to have a bachelor' degree in graphic design or fine arts (Graphic Designers 2010). Graphic designer aren't always involved in website designing or animation, but most jobs are looking for graphic designers with those skills. With the advancements of the internet people can get jobs easily abroad (Graphic Design (art) 8, 2010).

The influence of the revolutionized graphic design affects the public and the job market. Graphic design has inevitably evolved, for the better, as technology has advanced. Jobs are abundant in all forms of graphic design, along with the education needed for those jobs. Throughout your education you learn a variety of skills and know-how about important tools like Photoshop. Graphic design is forever changing as our world advances.