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What is Graphic Design? A Complete Guide

Christopher Benitez

Updated September 21, 2023

What is Graphic Design

Have you ever seen a system so functional and visually appealing that it’s almost difficult to leave behind?

If you did, that’s great — such a work of art is the amalgamation of exceptional graphic design.

This article will discuss graphic design basics, what graphic designers do, the types of graphic design, and more. This way, you’ll be set with everything you need to know about graphic design.

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is the art of creating visually appealing content to communicate ideas. Nowadays, graphic design is everywhere. The visual content featured appeal on mobile apps, websites, cartons, and billboards? Those are examples of graphic design.

Visual elements of graphic design:

  • Line
  • Space
  • Shape
  • Scale
  • Color
  • Typography
  • Balance
  • Harmony
  • Texture
  • Dominance & emphasis

Take a brand with a strong visual presence. For example, let us dissect the graphic design and visual elements of Abstract, a version control tool for Sketch files.

abstract design

Not only is their visual appeal strong, but it is also powerful because they stuck to a well-crafted graphic design strategy. In addition to factoring in symmetry, flow, repetition, and other essential design considerations, they played well with technicolor hues, quirky animation, and simple web copy – symbolic of their minimalistic nature.

What Do Graphic Designers Do?

Because graphic design is everywhere nowadays, a graphic designer should also be everywhere these days. They can work in-house or as an independent contractor or freelancer.

Either way, they draw attention to layout, branding, and every principle of graphic design composition. With the knowledge that graphic design is a form of visual communication, they transform visual concepts into reality and bring life to ideas.

Qualities of a top-notch graphic designer:

  • Teachable – Because their position involves creating work for their clients, they need to listen attentively and stick to instructions. They should be detail-oriented, too.
  • Effective communicator – Graphic artists should create designs that deliver an intended message. To do that, they need to effectively communicate — using verbal and non-verbal language — with their clients.
  • Adaptable – Graphic designers specialize in different types of graphic design. If clients request specific visual content, they should honor the request.

Types of Graphic Design

To carry out a desirable product, graphic designers use their arsenal of graphic design skills and tools. Examples are graphic design software, visual elements, engaging web copy, and informative graphics.

Below are the different types of graphic design (with examples).

Marketing and Advertising Design

One of the ways marketing professionals and businesses connect with consumers is through graphic design. And yes, 64% of consumers want to be able to reach them.

Graphic design products and services by marketing and advertising graphic designers:

  • Magazine ads
  • Posters
  • Fliers
  • Brochures
  • Email marketing templates

Using marketing and advertising graphic design, they can promote products and services. Plus, with the help of a streamlined and solid strategy, they can use it to sell these products and services, deliver a compelling visual message, and establish a reputable brand identity.

User Interface (UI) or Web Design

This type of graphic design emphasizes the importance of the front-end or front-facing qualities of websites. And the creative process involves lots of heavy-lifting and planning.

The goal of UI specialists and web designers is simple. They should construct an outstanding web design — effective appearance, layout, structure, and navigation system.

Graphic design products and services by UI graphic designers:

  • Theme designs
  • Game interfaces
  • App designs

Visual Identity

All graphic design elements (the ones mentioned above) come together to create a visual identity for a brand. Think of visual identity as a brand’s way of expressing its personality. It intends to complement, serve as a visual representation, and ensure brand consistency.

Graphic design products and services by graphic designers who specialize in visual identity:

  • Logo design
  • Official merchandises
  • Brand kits


Creating layouts and using artwork for printing, color management, and digital publishing—- that’s the focus. Specifically, graphic artists who engage in this type of graphic design excel in photography and photo manipulation.

Graphic design products and services by graphic designers who specialize in publication design:

  • Books
  • Newsletters
  • Annual reports
  • Catalogs

Packaging Design

As an integral marketing tool, this type of graphic design protects products. Therefore, a packaging design artist needs an excellent grasp of print processes, manufacturing, and industrial design. Wonder how packaging designers excel in this sphere and can create an outstanding product? They monitor trends and competitors!

Graphic design products and services by designers who specialize in packaging design:

  • Packaging graphic design concepts
  • Product mock-ups
  • Print-ready files

Motion Graphics

Albeit a relatively new type of graphic design, the demand for motion graphic design is growing. At a fundamental level, it involves graphics put in motion.

Graphic design products and services by motion graphics designers:

  • Lively ads and banners
  • Animation
  • Trailers and title sequences
  • Flash websites
  • Video games

Environmental Graphic Design

This type of graphic design is a multi-disciplinary practice — it combines interior, architectural, landscape, graphics, and industrial design.

Graphic design products and services by designers who specialize in environmental graphic design:

  • Industrial design concepts
  • Architectural plans
  • Signages
  • Murals
  • Office branding
  • Navigation signage

Art and Illustration

To create satisfactory (at least) projects, they collaborate and work closely with other creators and graphic design artists. The roster includes art directors, writers, and editors.

Graphic design products and services by graphic designers who specialize in art and illustration:

  • Tshirt design
  • Graphic novels
  • Textile patterns
  • Album art
  • Comic books


Graphic designers tend to delve into this graphic design type for one main reason: to express strong opinions about fonts. They use carefully chosen fonts (with pictures) to meet the specific needs of users. They also want to apply the logical way of displaying elements to optimize a user’s experience.

Graphic design products and services by graphic designers who specialize in typography:

  • Strategic selection of font types
  • Ideally sized fonts for branded items

Conclusion: The Importance of a Graphic Designer

In this fast-paced world, a growing number of businesses are going digital. Because we’re living in a digital age, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the need for graphic design is increasing.

Fortunately, the graphic design industry is adapting to this need — putting many skilled and highly qualified graphic designers out there. And it boils down to knowing how to find one.

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Christopher Benitez is a freelance writer who specializes in the digital marketing field. His work has been published on SEO and affiliate marketing-specific niches like Monitor Backlinks, Niche Pursuits, Web Hosting Secret Revealed, and others.

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