Using visual compositions through form, color, typography, and images, there are different types of graphic design to provide solutions for different needs.

Despite the rapid development in a variety of graphic design software that we witnessed in the past decades, the demands on today’s graphic designers have increased through new media and extended needs.

Any type of graphic design requires specific skills and design techniques. Some designers tend to specialize in only one way, while others focus on graphic design types that are quite are similar. Nevertheless, the industry is in a state of constant change, which means that designers have to be able to adapt and learn a lifetime to keep up to date with the latest design trends and requirements. No matter if you’re a student or a professional graphic designer, understanding the different types of graphic design will help you to specialize and finding your niche.

Graphic Design for Marketing and Advertising

The use of graphic design for marketing, advertising, and promotional purposes is probably the best-known form for most people. Companies need a successful marketing and advertising strategy to get the attention of their target group to sell their products or service. Great graphic design helps companies to promote and communicate more efficiently. Designers have to work in close cooperation with the client as well as marketing and advertising strategists to create the perfect assets. Whether alone or in a team, designers can specialize in a particular medium or design a wide range of promotional materials for both print and digital applications.

Gmund Bauhaus Swatchbook by Tolleson Design
Gmund Bauhaus Swatchbook by Tolleson Design.

Graphic Design for Branding (Brand Design)

A suitable brand identity is indispensable for every successful company. The right brand identity communicates the distinctive personality of a company with all its strengths as well as the unique selling point. In addition, it ensures recognition. Graphic designers in the field of branding have to create logos as well as a variety of different visual elements. They have to combine all these brand-specific elements with the matching colors, images, a corporate typeface, etc. The work also includes the design of basic materials such as stationery and business cards as well as brand guidelines, promotional materials, just to name a few. Brand designers need to have a basic understanding of all types of graphic design in order to create elements that fit any kind of media.

Leather Fashion Design brand identity by Atelier Irradié
Leather Fashion Design brand identity by Atelier Irradié.

Graphic Design for Publications (Editorial Design)

Publications can be newspapers, magazines, catalogs or books. Traditionally, publications are more common in print, but the section of digital publications increased dramatically in recent years—just think of e-books. Graphic designers who specialize in publications have to work with editors and publishers. They need to design covers and page layouts with matching typography and accompanying graphics and images. Those designers have to have excellent skills in the fields of typography, communication, and layout. They also need to have good knowledge of color management and different printing techniques.

ADG Laus awards book 2019 by Rubio & del Amo
ADG Laus awards book 2019 by Rubio & del Amo.

Graphic Design for Packaging (Packaging Design)

Most of our daily products require packaging, which protects and prepares them for shipping and any kind of transportation, but a well-designed packaging can do much more! If it’s done right, it communicates the brand’s identity as well as the distinctive characteristic of the product. A packaging designer has to do everything from early sketches to the print-ready design. Hence, a good packaging designer needs knowledge of different printing processes and a good understanding of manufacturing.

Branding and packaging by studio Horse for the world's most sustainable brewery.
Branding and packaging by studio Horse for the world’s most sustainable brewery.

Graphic Design for User Interfaces (Screen Design)

This area has experienced particularly rapid changes and further developments in recent years. A user interface (short: UI) gives us the possibility to interact with a device or an application. User interface designers often specialize in different sub-areas such as web design, app design, gaming or interfaces to control certain industrial machinery. A good UI design is intuitive and easy to use. The user interface consists of the things a user interacts with including screen as well as input devices such as a keyboard, touchpad or mouse, but UI design mainly focuses on the user’s visual experience on the screen. A graphic designer who’s working in the field of UI design has to create interfaces that are both visually pleasing and functional at the same time. UI designers should be able to work in close cooperation with other designers, creative directors, and developers. In addition, they need to have outstanding skills and a good understanding of UI/UX functionalities. A UI designer does not necessarily have to have extensive programming skills, but basic knowledge is beneficial because he needs to know what’s possible and how it works.

User Interface designs by Balraj Chana
User Interface design by Balraj Chana.

Graphic Design for Animations (Motion Graphics)

We can not imagine today’s media landscape without moving images. Whether TV commercials or music videos, motion graphics are great to attract the attention of the audience. Motion graphic designers create storyboards and they are bringing their concepts to life using a variety of animations, videos, typography, and graphics. They need advanced expertise in different applications ranging from tools such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to Premiere and After Effects. Expertise in 3D design is also beneficial.

The Wisdom of Pessimism, a short animation directed by Claudio Salas for The School of Life.

Environmental Graphic Design

We would be lost without this type of graphic design. This form creates a visual connection between humans and our environment. Just think of signs, murals, wayfinding systems, just to name a few. Environmental graphic design combines industrial design with architecture, interior, and landscape. Such designers must have good conceptual thinking. Furthermore, they must be familiar with industrial design concepts and be able to read and draw architectural drawings.

Wayfinding system
Wayfinding system of the Cisco Administrative Professionals Summit 2018 – Design by Ollestudio.

Graphic Design as a Form of Art (Graphic Art)

Graphic art most certainly covers the broadest range of visual artistic expression of all the different types of graphic design. Designers in this field do not necessarily need to work on a commissioned basis. Just like a traditional painter, for instance, they can create artworks to exhibit or sell them. There are no limits to the creative freedom and choice of medium. In the traditional sense, graphic arts refers to craftsmanship especially drawing and engraving. It is sometimes understood to refer specifically to printmaking but today, graphic art has evolved in various ways. Ranging from posters, fine art prints, murals or even audiovisual animations, there are countless ways of visual artistic expressions.

A poster a day by Lukas Bruhn aka Lorem De Loop
A poster a day by Lukas Bruhn aka Lorem De Loop.

All images © by the respective designers. Learn more and find some inspiring projects in our extensive Graphic Design category.

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