Graphic Artist: Job Description, Salary and Career Outlook

Sep 25, 2019

Graphic artists create designs for their clients. These designs could be used as logos, an advertisement, or a book or album cover. A bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related subject is usually required.

Essential Information

Graphic artists, also called graphic designers, use technology and artistic skill to create designs in a variety of media. They work with clients to create packages, signs and company logos. Some graphic artists specialize in advertising, website design or multimedia. A bachelor's degree in graphic design is typically required by employers in this field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Certification Optional, offered through software product vendors
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% (for all graphic designers)
Mean Annual Salary (2018)* $54,680 (for graphic designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Graphic artists combine art and technology to create visually communicative designs. The work of graphic artists can be seen in magazines, advertising, book covers, album covers, restaurant menus, food labels, billboards, clothing and more. Traditional forms of art such as painting and sketching may be employed in creating designs, but much of the work in modern graphic design is performed using computers and image editing software.

Job Duties

Graphic artists create designs for clients. First, they meet with clients or supervisors to discuss design projects and clients' needs. They may need to incorporate data from a research department or follow the limits of a budget. After determining what the client is looking for, they create a concept design using rough drafts created by hand or on the computer. The concept is presented to the client, who may then suggest changes or approve the design.

Graphic artists create a wide variety of layouts, iconography, package designs, website designs, logos and illustrations. They incorporate design elements such as sound, color, animation, typography and images. They may use several image editing and digital animation software programs to create their designs. According to the Princeton Review, most graphic artists eventually specialize in a certain design aspect such as website design, product and packaging design or object arrangement.

Graphic artists may work for a design firm or own their own businesses. Those who operate a business have additional duties, such as selecting equipment and finding new clients. Graphic artists often work under tight deadlines, which can lead to long work hours and intense brainstorming sessions. Graphic artists must stay updated on new trends and new design software programs to remain relevant in this competitive industry.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a mean annual wage of $54,680 for graphic designers in May 2018. The highest number of employed designers were found in California and New York, which featured average annual salaries of approximately $61,100 and $64,840, respectively, in May 2018.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, the number of graphic design jobs was expected to grow by only 3% during the 2018-2028 decade. Graphic artists who have experience designing in a variety of media should have an edge over their competition.

Graphic artists need the artistic skill to understand how to combine elements together to create a visually compelling image. They also need to be skilled with computers, as much of their work may be designed using computer software.

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