Graphic Design Skills (With Examples and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Graphic designers are responsible for creating appealing advertising materials for their clients. They use numerous skills that allow them to brainstorm ideas, create designs and collaborate with other professionals. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a graphic designer, learning the skills that you can use while working may be useful for you. In this article, we discuss various graphic design skills and provide a list of tips to improve them.

Related: What Is a Web Designer? (With Duties, Salary and Skills)

What are graphic design skills?

Graphic design skills are various artistic and creative skills and abilities you may need to excel in a graphic design role. A graphic designer may work in-house at a design or advertising agency, in the marketing department of an organisation or independently as a freelance contractor. They build print or digital content for clients that communicate the brand's message or story using visually appealing images, colours and fonts.

Successful graphic designers typically apply a mixture of hard and soft skills to their roles to create compelling and attractive newsletters, advertisements, digital media, film or web designs based on their clients' needs and goals. Some graphic designers already hold natural creative abilities, while they gain other skills through engaging in on-the-job training, taking online courses and earning industry certifications. Having these skills can help you practise the seven elements of graphic design, which include the following:

  • Line

  • Shape

  • Colour

  • Texture

  • Type

  • Space

  • Image

What are soft and hard skills for graphic designers?

Here are some examples of soft and hard skills for graphic designers:

Creativity and innovation

Graphic designers must brainstorm unique ideas for their clients that make their promotional materials stand out from the competition. They use their creativity and innovation abilities to conceptualise ideas and designs that meet a client's preferences and requirements. Their designs should look visually appealing while conveying the client's desired message and speaking directly to the target audience.

Time management and organisation

Whether they work for an organisation, design agency or independently, graphic designers are typically in charge of several tasks and accounts at once. They must use their time management and organisation skills to prioritise tasks and track upcoming deadlines. Some graphic designers may have several projects due in one day, so strong multitasking skills can also help them deliver all of their assignments on time.

Computer and software knowledge

Graphic designers spend most of their time on the computer using various software programs to create designs, organise tasks or communicate with clients and employees. They must use common software design tools to edit photos, make videos and build unique promotional materials for clients. Basic technical and computer skills are also beneficial as they schedule tasks, communicate with clients and build design presentations.

Verbal and written communication

When graphic designers are not creating digital or print materials, they are typically meeting with clients to discuss deadlines, goals and edits. They also use their communication skills to express and pitch design ideas to clients and managers. They may also use communication skills when working on a team of graphic designers to discuss project development.

Graphic designers either meet with clients in person or speak with them through video calls, email messages or phone calls. They also need listening abilities to show their understanding of the clients' notes, suggestions or ideas.

Related: How To Overcome Communication Barriers: Benefits and Tips

Coding

It is common for graphic designers to create, program and design websites for clients. Having coding skills may help you design functional sites that maintain an appealing look. While most graphic designers have basic coding abilities, learning advanced coding techniques may give you an advantage over other professionals in your field.

Patience

It is common for the development and completion of graphic design projects to take a long time to finish. It is important for graphic designers to have the patience that allows them to work on projects for a long period of time. They may also use patience when reworking a project to better fit a client's needs or modifying a project according to a team's updated plans. Having patience may help graphic designers produce a high quality of work since they can minimise the chance of working quickly and making mistakes.

Teamwork

Graphic designers often work on a team of professionals to conceptualise and complete projects. Teamwork skills allow designers to collaborate with others and provide valuable input to their team. It may also help them collaborate with clients to show them why a certain type of design element may suit their needs best.

Related: A Guide on How To Build a Team That is Strong and Successful

Tips for improving your graphic design skills

Here are some ways that you might further develop your graphic design skills:

Learn additional coding languages

You can impress employers with your advanced knowledge of various coding languages. Sign up for online courses or take in-person classes to gain hands-on training in complex coding. Learning new languages or enhancing your existing coding skills allows you to complete more advanced web design tasks for clients, which can lead to raises or promotions in your current role. It can also look impressive to hiring managers who are reviewing your resume.

Take graphic design courses

Taking graphic design courses may expand your design techniques and skills. You might find online courses that can help you enhance your current skills, or you may attend graphic design courses at a college or university. Look online to find graphic design courses that fit your needs. You may also contact programs that you have an interest in attending to discuss their coursework and program requirements.

Observe graphic designers

Consider observing other graphic designers to see the skills and techniques they use while working. This may help you identify areas of improvement within your skill set, and you may adopt specific graphic design techniques into your own work. Consider pursuing a graphic design internship or apprenticeship, where you may have the opportunity to observe experienced graphic designers and grow your skills.

Related: What Are Career Opportunities and How To Choose the Right One

Learn how to use graphic design software

If you are pursuing a graphic design career, it is important that you have a familiarity with the software that you might use while working. Learning how to use graphic design software may help you enhance your skills and experience, which can make you a valuable candidate for a position. Consider attending a software course that provides guidance on graphic design programs, or research various programs to better understand their purpose and functions.

Pursue freelance work

A great way to improve your skills and earn a supplemental income is through freelance work. Many businesses search online for graphic designers to complete short-term projects for their website or marketing materials. By pursuing smaller freelance gigs online, you can practise your skills and experiment with new design tools you have recently learned. You may be able to apply the skills you have gained from your freelance jobs to the responsibilities of your full-time role.

How to highlight graphic design skills

When you are applying to graphic design roles, it is important to emphasise your skills and experience throughout the application process. Here are some ways that you might highlight your graphic design skills:

Resume

Your graphic designer resume should clearly list the soft and hard skills you have developed. Mention these in several areas throughout the resume, including your work duties, summary and a separate skills section. Review the job description for the role you are applying for to identify any skills that the employer has listed in the preferences and requirements sections. Make sure that you include skills from the job description in your resume.

Before submitting your resume, be sure to proofread it to find any spelling mistakes or formatting problems. By submitting a resume that is free from errors, you may emphasise your organizational skills and close attention to detail.

Related: When To Include a Photo on a Resume (Plus How To and Tips)

Interview

Your interview is a good opportunity to show your time-management skills and creativity. By arriving early for your interview, you can show that you are capable of planning accordingly and managing your time properly. To highlight your creative skills, be sure to bring a copy of your portfolio to show the hiring manager. Try sharing details of your experience with graphic design, including examples of when you had to finish a design project within a certain amount of time, or if you had to prioritise specific design tasks.

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