Graphic Production Artists
A graphic production artist is responsible for creating page layouts and design elements for use in print and web-based projects, which can include emails, catalogs, newspaper ad inserts, brochures, and magazine advertisements. He or she may be tasked with deciding color schemes, creating illustrations, and choosing fonts for projects. Graphic production artists often work in cooperation with designers and art directors, either on staff or as self-employed professionals.
This job might appeal to creative and visually minded people. More and more individuals in the graphic design field are self-employed, and many artists work from home. However, there is strong competition for these jobs, since graphic design attracts many individuals who want to work in media.
|Degree Level||Associate degree is typically required; some employers prefer bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Graphic arts or design|
|Experience||Professional digital or traditional portfolio; 1-3 years of hands-on graphic production experience|
|Key Skills||Creativity; good organization and time management skills; proficiency in Mac OS and Adobe Creative Suite Software (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop)|
|Median Salary (May 2015)*||$46,900 (for all graphic designers)|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||1% growth|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings in October 2012
Now let's look at some of the steps involved in becoming a graphic production artist in more depth.
Step 1: Pursue a Degree
Associate degree programs in graphic design offer the training needed to become a graphic production artist. An associate degree program in graphic design generally takes two years to complete and includes basic and advanced courses in graphic design. These programs cover topics like color theory, digital imagery, and typography. Students also receive instruction in commonly used design software programs, such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop.
A bachelor's degree program in graphic design covers many of the same topics as an associate program, but it also includes more advanced coursework in design and production. Undergraduate students typically compile a portfolio of their work, which can be used to show their skills to potential employers.
Participate in an Internship
Internships can give students the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience often required by future employers. Additionally, interns benefit from the training received from experienced industry professionals, and they may make valuable contacts within the professional community. Internships may sometimes fulfill a credit requirement of a bachelor's degree program.
Step 2: Find an Entry-Level Position
Employers hiring graphic production artists often look for candidates who have at least a year of experience as production coordinators. Production coordinators oversee workflow progress and act as communications liaisons between departments and supervisors. Some employers may be willing to hire entry-level workers as production artists, but these jobs may require a bachelor's degree.
Attend Local Adobe Group Meetings
Some cities have groups that meet periodically to discuss the current best practices of Adobe Creative Suite applications, which are often used by graphic production artists. These user groups are generally inexpensive and can be a great learning tool for graphic design professionals. Group meetings feature presentations from other professionals who use Adobe products and can help production artists get the most out of their design software.
Step 3: Get Certified
Graphic productions artists looking to get an edge over other applicants may want to explore their certification opportunities. Certification is not usually required, but it can show employers that an applicant has a certain set of skills. The type of certification that is best for each artist depends on the type of software programs they work with most often. The Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) in Photoshop or the ACE in Illustrator designations can each be obtained after passing the required exam. Adobe also offers recertification exams for professionals who have an Adobe certification for an earlier version of the software and wish to update their credentials.
Step 4: Seek Promotion
Graphic production artists with at least 1 to 3 years experience may find advanced roles within the field. These positions may be supervisory and directive in nature, allowing the artist to have more influence over the direction of a project.
Let's review. You'll need an associate or maybe even a bachelor's degree in graphic design, to work as a graphic production artist. After gaining some experience in the field, you may earn a median salary of $46,900 a year.