What is a Graphic Designer?

Graphic Designer(Photo: Kevin Fitsimons, WOSU)

Meet Greg Bonnell, Graphic Designer

What exactly do you do?
I’m a graphic designer. My job is to use words and pictures to communicate ideas and information. It might take the form of a website or a printed brochure, a sign or a CD package, or the instructions for using laundry detergent.

Describe a typical day.
On a typical day I might:
- meet with a client about a new job,
- send completed work out to be printed,
- touch up a photograph on the computer,
- read through a proof to make sure there are no errors,
- research the history of a topic I’m doing a design about,
- and put words and images together in a computer program and create a poster layout.

What’s the coolest part of your job?
For me the coolest part is when I first get a good idea, something that I know will be effective for the project I’m working on. It could be a visual idea or an organizational approach to information, but for me it feel’s like getting the right answer to a really tough exam question.

How do people react when they learn what you do?
They usually say “must be nice to draw all day and get paid for it.” Drawing and designing is only a part of what I do. There’s also plenty of planning, meeting with clients, writing estimates, emailing co-workers, and filing paperwork – things you might do at any job.

How did you become a graphic designer?
I went to college for four years to earn a degree in visual communication. I originally decided to pursue graphic design because I was in a band and I liked doing posters for our shows.

What disappointed you about your job?
It’s disappointing when a client doesn’t see things the same as you do, and decides not to use an idea you think is very good. Sometimes an idea you put a lot of time and energy into can get scrapped in favor of something else.

How has your job changed over time?
When I first started, computers were not part of graphic design, yet. That change has been huge. Computers have made it possible to work faster and get more done, but now we also have the job of learning new software, troubleshooting equipment failures, understanding networking, etc.

How will your job be different ten years from now?
I will only have to think of a design and the wireless chip in my head will instantly transmit it to a computer which will render a 3-D example of what I was thinking and send it to the client. Then I’ll go back to playing my holographic video game.

What are some of the most important skills and abilities needed for this job?
You must be able to think about how to best communicate an idea in visual terms. Being able to draw is helpful, but so is being organized, having an understanding of form and color, and just being able to communicate clearly with people.

What advice do you have for people who want to enter this field?
Make sure you learn about things other than graphic design, too. In order to communicate effectively you have to know at least a little bit about a lot of different things. So be curious.

What do you wish someone had told you before you left high school that would’ve helped you with your career?
Tennis shoes are probably not appropriate when wearing a suit.