Hello, Alin here, designer at unosoft.
You may be wondering why the hell you’re reading an article written by a graphic designer. Well, the story starts like this: One Monday morning, Raluca, my fellow Content Manager, put the lock on Photoshop and moved me into a text editor. And just like that, my dears, a designer is put on writing. Hold on! =)))
Therefore, this article has only one purpose, to explain to you through wooden words and clumsy expressions: what design means, what exactly a designer does, how much the average designer is paid, and what qualities are needed to be a superstar in this professional scene.
What is Graphic Design?
In theory, graphic design is the field of arranging fonts, images, shapes and other design elements into a composition appealing to the human eye. Through color, contrast, hierarchy and other secrets designers don’t want to tell you, the designer tells a story through images.
In addition, to understand this field even better, a comparison between two people, an artist and a designer, is necessary. We’ll take an imaginary story, the people and story that follows are fiction ^^
We have George, an accomplished artist, an Art and Design graduate. I first met him in an art gallery, he was having an espresso next to a lesser known Dali work. Five minutes into the conversation and he’s already explaining to me why espresso is the correct and most delicious way to drink coffee. “It’s most interesting this way, I don’t drink a liter of coffee with milk (here my brain instantly added, <like you, peasants>), I look for intensity and experience in everything.”
A few months later, I accidentally walked into a traveling gallery and saw two works created by George. They reflected the artist’s personality exactly, inviting you to discover his life expressed on canvas. So when George conceives a work of art, he is expressing himself.
I’m going to bring another friend into this story. His name is Casian, I met him through NGOs. A boy always oriented to help, graduate of Arts and Design. Casian told me something that has stayed with me to this day. Very empathetic, he was always looking for something that could be improved to make life better for the people around him. “Alin, I went to a concert and saw how people with disabilities were treated inferiorly. I’ve been thinking for two weeks how I could help them, I think I’ll come up with a solution.”
Interrupting him out of curiosity, I ask: <Have you ever done this before?> Casian, quietly, tells me: “It’s chill bro, I’ve got a trial.”
In conclusion, more from my point of view and what I tried to create in the story above: The artist creates for himself, expressing himself. The designer solves a problem, through critical thinking, empathy and process. Thus, Graphic design solves problems, using all the elements and principles of design.
What does the Graphic Designer do?
First of all, the designer solves a problem: orientation on the subway by correctly signposting directions and creating the famous colored maps, announcing a new show in town with an eye-catching poster design, booking a doctor’s appointment with a website and booking form.
Secondly, it uses graphic elements to communicate an idea, whether we’re talking about a visual identity, a social media ad or a section of a landing page. Composing these ideas into a visual story that looks pleasing to the viewer also falls into the Graphic Designer’s garden.
Technology has had a strong impact on this field. In the past, you couldn’t find a graphic designer without a notebook, liner and pencil. Today, most graphic design projects are done with computer programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Figma and many others, with Adobe packages being among the preferred choices of professionals in the field.
Even though graphic designers grow old behind a screen, success in this career involves both technical and social skills: the job often requires collaboration with others, empathy, and a high level of communication. I’ve detailed below in this article 10 qualities I think a successful designer ticks.
Most often you’ll meet graphic designers employed in-house in a company/agency or as freelancers, the most common places being:
- Advertising agencies;
- Web design firms;
- Marketing firm;
- Print, physical and online publications;
- Online and physical businesses;
- Technology startups;
- Non-profit organizations.
Graphic design can take many forms, from logo design to email campaigns to physical poster design. Some of the most popular examples are:
- Creating a visual identity;
- Print design: making posters, book covers, business cards and more;
- Packaging design;
- Character design;
- Social Media Design;
- From sales pages to UX/UI (another branch of design, experts in this field create websites/apps for web and mobile.
I’ve written below a list of popular terms with which to make a designer’s eyes sparkle 🤩🤩🤩
CMYK: is a pattern commonly found in print, representing the four colours used by printers as ink: cyan (turquoise), magenta (fuchsia), yellow (yellow) and key (black).
Hexadecimal code: a six-digit HTML code that uniquely represents a color in design programs (Let me tell you one I know by heart? unosoft green is #68bd45).
Infographic: A visual representation of present data in a clear and effective way.
JPEG: A popular format for compressing image files.
Moodboard: A collection of images and text that communicate the overall aesthetic message of a project or brand.
PPI: Pixels per inch, an important term that measures the pixel density of the pixels on the screens of different devices to determine the resolution of a design (300 for print, 72 for web).
Typography: The manipulation of the style and appearance of a text so that it is legible, appropriate, and aesthetically pleasing.
User Interface (UI): Interface design in software, applications and websites.
Vector image: A mathematically constructed graphic file that can be adjusted without loss of resolution, its enemy being Bitmap (an image constructed from pixels).
How much a designer is paid in Romania according to years of experience
I’ve come to the part I think you’re most interested in: Graphic Designer salary.
Salary can vary primarily depending on the experience you have, but also on your employer.
For a Junior, at the beginning of your career, the salary can vary between 1700 and 3000 RON.
A mid-level Graphic Designer with 3 to 5 years’ experience can earn between 3000 and 6000 RON.
And a Senior Graphic Designer earns from 6000 RON upwards.
These amounts apply to companies where you are employed. If we’re talking about freelancing, then things change because everyone can set their own prices.
Designer employed in a company vs Freelance designer
While we’re on the subject of freelancing, let’s look at the pros and cons of an employed vs freelance Graphic Designer.
Designer for hire
- Stable income: you have a steady salary coming into your account, monthly;
- You don’t have to pay your own taxes to the state. The company you work for takes care of that;
- You can get various benefits from your employer: meal vouchers, health or life insurance, 13th salary, performance bonuses, etc;
- You have people you can consult with in real time;
- You have access to lots of industry resources and insights;
- You have the opportunity to advance;
- Being part of a company makes networking easier, because you meet more people and get invitations to events.
- You can’t choose your customers;
- You have a work schedule that is not set by you and is not very flexible;
- You have to do what is asked of you even if you don’t agree with it;
- You can’t raise your salary when and by what you want.
- You choose the clients and projects you like to work on yourself;
- You make your own schedule the way you work best;
- You can set your own prices for your services and increase them when you think it’s worth it;
- You can earn more money depending on the number of projects you choose to work on.
- You don’t have the security of a fixed and secure income. From month to month, the amount you earn can vary depending on the projects you work on;
- You have to open an LLC or a PFA to be able to make invoices and collect money;
- You don’t have people to consult with;
- You pay your own contributions to the state;
- You need a lot of organization and discipline to divide your time;
- You have a much harder time reaching people online or in the media because you don’t represent a reputable brand or company.
There is no perfect fit for everyone. Depending on your personality you might be suited to one or the other.
However, my advice, if you’re just starting out in your career, is to start in a company.
This is the only way you will be able to learn from others how to do graphic design properly, gain access to more people in more fields, and build relationships that can help you in the future.
10 necessary skills/tasks you need to master if you want to succeed in your Design career
If you’re naturally creative and have an eye for design, a career in graphic design would fit the bill. I’ve written below 9+1 qualities a successful designer must master, in my opinion:
Empathy: Human-oriented, helps a designer put himself in the shoes of the human for whom the design is intended. Identifying and analyzing the audience are important steps in the process of making a successful design.
Good communication skills will help you listen actively, solve problems and understand what your clients need when you collaborate on a graphic design project. Identifying the problem that needs to be solved sets the project up for success, only by listening and asking the best questions will you succeed. As that famous person said: we have two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as we talk.
Sense of colour is a very important quality because colour is the main suspect that generates emotion in an image. This is where colour theory, a set of rules and guidelines for colour that you will apply to create aesthetically pleasing images, comes in. This involves choosing an appropriate colour palette for your project and understanding how people perceive colour and the emotion behind it in different situations.
Knowledge of a design program, some of the most popular programs used in graphic design are: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Xd, Corel, Inkscape, Figma, Sketch and on further research we can double the list.
A good composition helps you effectively manipulate the visual space of an image to draw viewers in and tell them a visual story.
Typography – will help you tell appropriate, enjoyable and readable stories. Using typefaces, fonts and all their formatting to make text readable and aesthetically pleasing.
Programming, although not always necessary, understanding several programming languages, such as HTML and CSS, can propel you into a career as a UX/UI Designer.
Ability to compromise and occasionally accepting others’ ideas is important if you want to stay competitive in this field. Finally, designers need to remember that the work they create is not always about them, but rather about the people they are creating for.
Continuous Growth, is what makes a graphic design career exciting: good graphic designers are those who are constantly learning about the field and always keeping up-to-date.
The basic principles of graphic design are a set of rules that a designer follows to draw the viewer’s attention to the focal point of an image. Among the best known are: contrast, proximity, hierarchy, alignment and negative space. In my opinion, these principles and elements are far more important than knowing Photoshop or any other design program because they are the foundation on which a successful designer is built.
Psychology Designers often talk to people’s subconscious. Knowledge of psychology makes you a designer who communicates better, more clearly and with much more emotion involved in the visual.
Process With patience you cross the sea and Rome was not built in a day, raise your hand who has not an uncle from whom he heard this. What to see, if you’re a designer, your uncle wasn’t far wrong.
A successful designer has a process that he patiently goes through to get to the end of a design. A designer’s work is not based on inspiration, so give yourself a few days when you’re making a new design and use a process that iteratively takes you closer and closer to success.
Broadly speaking, the design process should contain these steps:
Empathy -> Definition -> Idea generation -> Prototype -> Testing. If we were to take an example of creating Facebook Ads, the specific steps but molded to the above process would be:
Research audience, product, business -> Create brief -> Brainstorm and generate creative concepts -> Digitize them in a design program (GIMP, Photoshop, Creatopy etc.) -> Feedback from colleagues involved in the project and the client, apply if any -> Launch Facebook campaign.
Power to receive feedback is a quality you must have if you want to sleep well after a day at the office. It’s important to know how to ask for feedback, receive it, and communicate effectively to align differing opinions that lead to better design. I’ve often ended up with a much better result when I’ve listened to and understood (always make sure you understand why your boss says make the logo bigger) the feedback and if I’m to draw a conclusion from that, more brains > one brain.
That was me, Alin Rosioru, Engineer in Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technologies. Why do I mention this? I think the destination to a career as a graphic designer actually has 10,000 paths, don’t worry about what high school you went to, everyone starts with a different step in this career.
For me, the path was paved with passion towards the field (which started when I hacked Photoshop around 13-14 years old, like 90% of today’s designers did), a design forum (which I think was very important for me because I found equally passionate people sharing materials, tutorials and feedback – thank you ro-sotw.ro) volunteering, math, programming, marketing, UI/UX, impact and business. That’s how I got to where I am today, passionate to the max, a bit technical, detail-oriented (colleagues call me a perfectionist) and numbers and impact-oriented with everything I do. I think I’m so passionate about this field because I can convey excitement every day, I love seeing “wooow” reactions and I do what I love every minute of my 8 hour job.
I’ve tried to show you the big picture of the professional life of a graphic designer, I hope I’ve managed to paint you a few pages of the story. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to join our facebook group or email me at alin[at]unosoft.ro
PS: I took the locks off Photoshop!!! Want to pretend together that you didn’t like this article? No like, share, subscribe, tap-tap. Thank you 🤣🤣🤣🤣
PS2: Don’t tell Raluca I said that. It remains our secret 😬
Want to learn more about graphic design?
- Book: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
- Card: The Brand Gap
- Youtube channel: thefutur
- youtube channel: awwwards.
- Serial on netflix: Abstract: The art of design
- Serial on netflix: The creative brain
Here are some articles about other marketing jobs you can learn more about:
Copywriter: what it means, how much it pays and 10 things you need to become one
PR: what it means, how much it pays and how you can become a successful one in 2022
Social media manager: what it means, how much it pays and how you can become one in Romania
And if you want to learn marketing and don’t know where to start, we’ve created this subscription that contains all our strategies. Take a look.