What Is the Definition of Graphic Design?

A standard dictionary definition of graphic design may say it is an artistic profession or process that relies upon visual communication for the purpose of conveying information to a specific or general audience. However, considering the fact that the nature of the audience holds the most potential for profit, Savannah College of Art and Design suggests a slightly different definition of graphic design: the communication link between seller and consumer. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.


The specific list of industries and publications that require graphic design is long, and it covers practically every media that's based on visual communication, from newspapers to websites. Here is a partial listing of some of the places where graphic design is used.

  • Logos and company branding
  • Websites
  • Advertising
  • Book covers and design
  • Promotional materials
  • Packaging
  • Posters
  • Layout of magazines and newspapers
  • Illustrations
  • Greeting cards

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Salary (2018) $50,370
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 4% (slower than average)
Key Skills Computer, communication, creative and analytical skills
Entry-level Education Bachelor's degree

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Elements of Graphic Design

Graphic designers are trained in the use of the elements of graphic design, each of which has a function that can be employed for a specific purpose. When used properly, these elements can result in successes like the universally known Coca-Cola logo. The chart below shows the basic elements of graphic design and their corresponding roles and functions.

Graphic Design Element Function
Shapes Colors, patterns, and opacity provide form and guidance
Lines Define appearances and patterns
Color Links to an emotion for emphasis or to enhance other elements
Mass Defines size and visual weight
Texture Adds a tactile or visual factor


In today's information age, the computer has emerged as what many consider the single most effective way for achieving graphic design goals. Computer programs like Adobe Photoshop can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a project; however, graphic designers often still use traditional mediums like drawing or painting to develop their ideas or create the finished product. A common use of drawing or painting in graphic design is to sketch out an idea to get an immediate sense of its potential worth. Graphic designers may also be involved in the printing process; they are sometimes responsible for choosing paper, as well as making sure proofs and color separations are correct.

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