What does a graphic designer do? A complete guide

Graphic designers work visual miracles. They are able to distil complicated messages down into single images, all without you even realising!

From an unforgettable logo to a multi-channel brand guideline, graphic designers make eye-catching visual media that builds brand awareness for the customers, and brand pride for the owners.

If you find yourself wondering “what does a graphic designer do?”, read on for this complete guide. 

As a bonus, at the end of this article you can read an interview with our Creative Director and graphic design extraordinaire, Keiran Hartley. 

The responsibilities of a graphic designer

Branding awareness

A logo should always be thoughtfully designed. It needs to communicate the brand’s values and purpose, but should also have characteristics that make it easily recognisable. That’s a lot of responsibility for a single image!

To work their magic, graphic designers use colour theory. This outlines how colours make people feel and which ones stand out. Experimenting with different colour combinations is a big part of what makes the job so fun. 

For a good example of colour theory, learn about a home-building client who needed a more environmentally friendly colour scheme to reflect changing business priorities. 

Another fun part of graphic design is breaking the rules! If you know the proper design conventions, you also know how to break them for maximum effect. 

Practical graphic design skills 

While graphic designers still do some occasional pencil scribbling (especially when brainstorming!) it truly has become a digital role.

There are a whole host of software that graphic designers can take advantage of, such as Adobe Creative Suite, which includes InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and many more. These software are improving constantly, and they are creating new and exciting opportunities to push artistic boundaries. 

Knowing platforms like WordPress is also a great way for graphic designers to be more employable. Not to mention seeing a wonderful looking website that you created is a great feeling!

Interpretation and presentation 

While graphic designers might have a lot of fun doing it, their work isn’t easy. A great logo communicates everything it needs to without you realising – so the average layman might not appreciate the nuance. 

To demonstrate the value of what they do, graphic designers need to be able to do two things.

First, they must gather as much information from the client or brief as possible. This demonstrates the strategy to the client, and usually leads to better end results. 

Second, they need to explain what they’ve done and the reasoning behind it. A great way they can do this is by showing the stages of the work from the original idea to the finished product. This shows how much information has been condensed into a ‘simple’ graphic. Plus it’s nice for the designer to look at their progress too!

Skills graphic designers need

There are many skills, both occupational and behavioural, that are essential for graphic designers. They include:

  • An understanding of graphic design techniques across multiple applications
  • Able to construct a brand identity and make that consistent across different applications
  • An understanding of colour theory and typography
  • Familiar with current design trends and conventions
  • Knowledge of modern digital design tools
  • Able to balance multiple projects simultaneously
  • Can articulate the meaning and purpose of designs to clients verbally or through presentation
  • Highly creative
  • Strong time management skills

Interview with a graphic designer

Close up picture of graphic designer Keiran Hartley
Creative Director Keiran Hartley

Keiran has over 35 years experience in graphic design. He is the mastermind behind Oddball’s creative direction, and his incredible designs often get very complimentary messages from our clients. 

What does a graphic designer do and why is it important at Oddball?

A designer is essentially a communications expert, translating ideas & messaging into visual language.

Whether it’s in traditional forms such as print or across a range of digital applications, the very best kind of design is actually invisible. That means it doesn’t big-note itself and draw attention away from the concept being delivered – but rather makes it the hero. 

Great design subconsciously pleases the eye and makes digesting information easier.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Problem solving visually. Getting to the very core of a message, concept or brand and developing a visual language that enhances the viewer’s relationship to it. 

What’s your greatest achievement in your role so far?

Every client that walks away loving how their branding looks is an achievement. I would say that it isn’t always the biggest jobs or clients that are the biggest ‘achievements’. 

Sometimes the smaller clients who are taking their branding seriously for the first time are the most memorable. As much as I’m creating something, I’m also educating them on my reasoning. Whenever I do this successfully, I definitely feel like I’ve achieved something!

What’s something unique about working at Oddball?

We’ve worked on loads of brands from the ground up as well as giving tired old brands design resurrections. It’s really satisfying watching a client fall in love with their new or refreshed logo!

Then seeing how that logo flows into the new look across the website, social media, print and digital is so rewarding.

Do you want to be a graphic designer?

As the digital landscape becomes increasingly visual, graphic design is more important than ever. People will pay for high quality designs that stand out from all the other graphics that people are bombarded with everyday. 

Oddball Marketing is a constantly growing business. We are often hiring for a variety of roles. Check our careers page to see if there is one that suits you. 

Even if there isn’t an open position, enquire anyway so we can retain your details on file for future positions. 

We also have more resources about digital marketing which you can read on our website.

Related articles

Expert marketing tips

delivered to your inbox each month.

Newsletter Form - Popup (#6)