As you already know, we graphic designers are magicians of our branch. We take great pride at what we do, and we are always ready to go for that extra mile to satisfy the client. However, “graphic designs” is an umbrella term, meaning it encompasses much more than drawing lines and blurring faces in Photoshop. You can’t just hire the same graphic designer for every little bit of your company’s visual identity. Or perhaps you can, if you find the right expert. But every single client has a different perspective on what the graphic designs are, and what do they mean. The first thought is usually the logo, then the billboards, T-shirt designs, or simply playing through the Instagram filters to achieve that curvy look and stunning white teeth. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Through this article, I’ll break up the types of graphic design into a few categories, and explain every one of them. So, join me on this adventure through the restless sea of graphic designs.
A brief history of graphic designs
When you think of it, graphic design has started a long time ago. To be precise, around 17.000 years ago. That was the time of the first cave paintings. They were used to tell tales, preserve traditions, and keep track of time. To simplify it: they were the mediums that told stories in a visual way. Some countries still have well-preserved caves with paintings, and they are one of the most valuable parts of history, as there were no written traces of that time.
Let’s jump a few years ahead, and meet William Addison Dwiggins. This lovely gentleman is one of the founders of the graphic designs of the modern days. His designs, original fonts, and rich bibliography were one of the cornerstones of today’s graphic design rules and trends. William was active in his work until 1956, when he passed away, after a rich and unforgettable career.
A step more in time, and we are in the year 1984. when Apple issued its first computer. After that, digital tools like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator were born. And soon after, a Big Bang of graphic designs happened. Tools became available and fairly simpler to use when you compare them with the past ones. And now, gentlemen, we are back into today’s age. You have a decent dozen of different graphic design types and their era is at the peak.
7 different graphic designs types
Knowing the difference between the types is essential for you, whether you are a client seeking a designer or you are a digital nomad off to a fresh start in a career. To accomplish a good negotiation position, you must know your enemy…or your designer.
All the rich marketing slogans or brochures are useless without graphic designers. A picture is worth a thousand words, and everyone knows that. You can write a whole book about the new Tesla design, and it would still be less worthy than a few photos. As most company owners know, they have a limited time to hold the attention of a potential buyer. To accomplish that, they must have the best visual approach. Advertising design is also an umbrella term for email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, and a few more. Don’t forget the digital ads, infographic design, and a blast from the past – brochure and newspaper ads. Although these last two can seem a bit outdated, remember that there are millions of potential buyers that don’t have digital skills or simply don’t have access to computers.
The most common title for graphic designers in this field is illustrators. Illustrators create images that represent stories, ideas, or motos. As I said, we are magicians.
Motion graphic designs
This terribly devised phrase even has a worse explanation: pieces of graphic designs that create the illusion of movement. But, if I say GIF or an animation, it’s much simpler, right? Motion design is a relatively new form of design, as it has firm ties with technology advancement. It has a broad area of use, especially at the start, where it was used for the opening and closing sequences of movies and TV shows. And nowadays, you can’t picture a decent website or a web app without it. You can see a nice example of that on my webpage.
The official title for this type of design is motion graphic designer. The secret ingredient of this specifical skill is enhancing the sometimes stagnant visual design and modernizing the traditional graphic designs. And what can motion designers make? A lot of things, actually. But let’s focus on the most popular and most wanted ones:
- animated texts
- ad banners and internet banners
- video games
As you already noticed, there are no simple descriptions of what graphic designers do. And web design is no exception. The incorporation of UX design and UI design along with finding the perfect layout, fonts, and colors…and you have to find the balance between all that. There is a thin line between popular and tacky, or retro and outdated, or brave or useless design. So a web designer (the official title) must intertwine all of his knowledge and his talent and add a pinch of modern trends. And only by doing that he can create a well-round webspace, that is balanced, user friendly, and has an appealing design.
This is one of the trickiest forms of design. To establish a connection between people and the places they visit, the designer has to have exceptional knowledge in many disciplines. To make an environment memorable, easy, or simply eye-pleasant, designers combine a lot of things. Pure visual appearance, architectural design, landscape, and interior, they must all perfectly align into one. So a true environmental graphic designer must also be an architect. Firstly, the associate designers do the visual part, in the form of “simple” environment design tasks. And then, it’s heavy artillery time. Draftsmen convert the visual designs, along with the blueprints and all the other documentation from engineers, architects, electricians, and plumbers into the final piece of art. So, except for the designing part, you have to know a lot about the bricks, clay, electricity and all the other things used to make buildings. The most usual examples are:
- stadium branding
- office/headquarter branding
As we already said, nowadays we consider a lot of medium outdated, and the truth cannot be more opposite. Books, brochures, and newspapers have their fair share of the market, and that’s the target of the publication design. Especially, with all the modern tools available. So, the targeted market has just moved the part of it out on the digital platforms, and gained a letter “e”. Ebooks, email newsletters, and e-magazines are a rich field to reap the fine fruits of graphic designs. So, we have new titles for that field, as well:
- Layout artist – in charge of making the content more eye-pleasing. Includes the combinations of text, images, fonts, colors, and everything else into a compact form.
- Production artist – a perfect hybrid between technical and creative person. The man in charge of keeping everything in the place, by implementing technical knowledge into the creative process.
- Desktop publishing artist – aka DTP artist, in charge of the digital part of the creative process. DTP artists usually have extensive knowledge of desktop publishing software tools.
Admit it, you all know how your favorite food or drink is packed, right? Well, so do all the companies. Item package isn’t just a way to preserve the merchandise, it’s a great way of advertising to the buyer. So, a whole field of graphic design is involved in finding the best visual way to make you eat your fries. Do you think I am overexaggerating?
And I bet you recognized this design right away, although it’s as simple as it can be. You see, when you buy something, you are literally doing the marketing part for the company, and they are very well aware of that. When you go to a nice cafe and order an espresso, you’ll get a cup with the coffee logo. Order a juice, and you will get it in a bottle with the producer’s logo. Buy a pair of sneakers or earphones – the same thing. So, believe it or not, packaging design is one of the most famous and most lucrative types, although it goes under the radar often.
Corporate graphic designs
As well as the small companies, the multinational corporations have to be very well aware of their brand identity. And, of course, I am talking about the visual aspect of it. When your target market is literary the whole planet Earth, you must choose your cards and your visual identification very carefully. Otherwise, it’s rebranding time. And you all know how painful and expensive that can be. Especially for large companies, that have much more to lose. So, consistency and the ability to adapt are must-have skills for the corporate graphic designers. To achieve that, brand identity designers make the company’s brand identity clear, attractive, and modern.
Logo designers, on the other hand, are focused mostly just on designing the logo. It might sound simple and you can do-it-yourself, but don’t forget, the logo represents the very essence of your company, in a relatively small visual expression. So, it has to be perfect, otherwise, it’s useless.
Besides logo designing, the corporate design includes business emails and newsletters, business cards, and pretty much everything else in close connection with your company, which has a graphic medium.
With this tiny article, I showed you just a part of this wonderful profession. I truly enjoy working as a graphic designer, and it’s what I’m good at. If you have a question, advice, or a nice comment, or you need anything else, contact me. I will be more than glad to answer your questions. Cheers and stay well!