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Production Designer Vs. Graphic Designer

Those interested in a career as a production designer or graphic designer can learn about the duties, degree requirements, salaries, and career outlooks for these positions.

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Comparing Production Designers to Graphic Designers

Production designers and graphic designers use their knowledge of composition and other design elements to create print or digital media that engages an audience. The focus and end product for those in these careers can be different, however.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)**
Production Designers Bachelor's Degree $46,651 11% (set and exhibit designers)
Graphic Designers Bachelor's Degree $42,718 5%

Sources: *Payscale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Cinematography and Film Production
  • Film and Cinema Studies
  • Photography

Responsibilities of Production Designers vs. Graphic Designers

Most production designers are responsible for assisting with the composition of camera shots seen in films, as well as choosing other elements for the film set. Graphic designers, on the other hand, produce copies of printed materials. Interestingly, both may rely on contract and freelance work, which gives them an opportunity to be part of different projects with various purposes. Additionally, both of these professionals may help create items for promotional purposes, whether for a movie or a business.

Production Designers

Production designers are on set during the making of a movie, as well as behind the scenes during the creation of some printed materials. After meeting with the director and producer, they design the tone of the film by choosing the lighting and composition of the shots. They also travel to proposed locations to decide what equipment may be needed during filming, including cranes, tracks, and tripods. The sets and costumes are also approved by production designers to ensure they fit the atmosphere. Those involved in producing printed materials look over the composition and layout of proofs before sending them to the printer.

Job responsibilities of a production designer include:

  • Exploring information on the time period and setting to ensure the props and costuming fit
  • Budgeting for computer generated images that will be added to the shots in postproduction
  • Developing a schedule for production and shooting to keep the project within the deadline
  • Engaging with suppliers of film, as well as printers

Graphic Designers

Printed advertisements, brochures, and even book covers are created by graphic designers. They meet with clients to learn about the specifications for a project, and then take ideas from the meeting and create a concept proof to show the client. Most graphic designers are fluent in computer software used for design and layouts, including InDesign and Photoshop. During the design process, they choose colors, images, and typefaces to inform and entice customers. Additionally, they may create branding logos and retail packaging for companies.

Job responsibilities of a graphic designer include:

  • Checking for layout and typographical errors in proofs
  • Gaining copyright and reprint permission for graphics or text
  • Scaling and editing photos to fit the design
  • Maintaining budgets and deadlines for the projects

Related Careers

Individuals looking into a position as a production designer could also research a career as a movie director, as both aim to tell an engaging story. For anyone curious about a job as a graphic designer, a career as an art director may be a good fit, because both focus on aesthetic layouts.

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