What Are the Skills of a Graphic Designer? (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 2, 2022

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.

If you're artistic and interested in marketing, you may want to pursue a career as a graphic designer. Graphic designers use creative and technical skills to create content for their clients, like logos or advertisements. Learning more about the role and discovering what skills graphic designers need can help you determine whether this career is right for you.

In this article, we explain what the skills of a graphic designer are, provide a list, review how to improve these skills, discuss ways to use them in the workplace, and share ways to convey graphic designer skills on your resume, cover letter, and during a job interview.

What are the skills of a graphic designer?

The skills of a graphic designer are various creative proficiencies required to excel in a graphic design role. A graphic designer may work in-house at a design or advertising agency, in an organization's marketing department, or independently as a freelance contractor. They typically create visual print or digital content for clients that communicate the brand's message or story using appealing images, colours, and fonts.

Successful graphic designers typically apply hard and soft skills to their roles to create compelling newsletters, advertisements, digital media, film, or web designs based on the clients' needs and goals. Some graphic designers already have natural creative abilities and gain more skills by engaging in on-the-job training, taking online courses, and earning industry certifications. You may need various strengths, talents, and abilities to complete the following standard graphic designer tasks:

  • Brainstorming design concepts and presenting them to clients

  • Using design software to create captivating images, graphics, web pages, or logos

  • Collaborating with clients to determine their goals, style guides, or branding guidelines when creating designs

  • Choosing proper fonts, photos, and colours

  • Applying requested changes to designs

Related: What Is a Graphic Designer? (With Required Skills)

Graphic designer skills

Here are some examples of skills of a graphic designer:

Branding and typography

To build solid designs for clients, graphic designers may require basic branding and typography skills. They typically research and understand the elements of a client's brand, including their colours, fonts, graphics, and logos, to convey the client's preferred messaging and to reach the target audience. Typology skills are also necessary to choose and create well-made fonts using appropriate line height, tracking, spacing, and layout techniques.

Coding

As many graphic designers build and update web pages, basic coding abilities are crucial for the role. Those who know more advanced coding languages can design well-made, functional websites that can impress clients. A basic understanding of Java and HTML languages is an excellent start for entry-level graphic designers.

Verbal and written communication

When graphic designers aren't creating digital or print materials, they typically meet with clients to discuss deadlines, objectives, and edits. They use their communication skills to express and pitch design ideas to clients, managers, or other employees. Graphic designers meet with clients in person or speak with them through video calls, email messages, or telephone. They also require listening abilities to demonstrate their understanding of the clients' notes, suggestions, or ideas.

Computer and software knowledge

While some graphic designers draw by hand, most use computer software to complete their work and send it to clients. They may use software to make videos, edit photos, or even update their clients. Having basic computer skills can help graphic designers complete these tasks efficiently.

Time management and organization

Graphic designers typically work with multiple clients, so managing their time effectively and staying organized is essential, prioritizing their tasks and adhering to strict deadlines. Sometimes, graphic designers may multitask to complete their projects on time.

Creativity

Being creative can help graphic designers brainstorm unique ideas that meet their clients' needs. It allows them to create content different from their competitors' to help increase brand awareness and create visually appealing content.

How to improve your graphic design skills

Here are some ways you can improve your graphic design skills:

1. Take software design courses

One of the best ways to improve your graphic design skills is to take introductory software design courses. Some clients may want you to use specific software to create their content, so knowing how to use various tools can make you a more attractive candidate. Most software programs have tutorials or specialized classes you can take to learn how to use them more efficiently.

Related: How to Become a Graphic Designer

2. Learn additional coding languages

While you may not need code in every project you work on, it can be a beneficial skill. Coding can help you design websites more efficiently for clients, so if you advance your skills, you can increase your rates or request a raise. There are many coding languages to choose from, but Java and HTML are the most common for websites. If you already know them, consider other languages like Python or C++.

3. Pursue side jobs

If you work full-time with an agency or company, you can still pursue side jobs to improve your skills and earn additional revenue. Smaller companies regularly look for graphic designers to complete short-term projects, such as creating a logo or designing promotional material. Seeking these jobs can help you learn new skills and gain industry experience.

4. Earn additional certifications

One approach to improving your skills so that employers can easily see is to earn additional certifications and include them on your resume. Consider your strengths and weaknesses to decide what types of courses to take. For example, if you struggle with choosing the best colour combinations, consider taking a class on colour theory. You can take many courses online or in person to improve your knowledge and skills.

Skills of a graphic designer in the workplace

You can apply your graphic design skills to create unique and engaging designs for clients and their audiences, helping you produce exceptional work that meets their needs. Here are tips to help you effectively use your graphic design skills in the workplace:

  • Create compelling and unique designs according to clients' needs: Use your listening and communication abilities to understand the goals clients want to achieve with their marketing materials. The designs you create typically aim to reflect their overall ideas, meet their expectations, and attract their audience's attention.

  • Use different mediums to tell an engaging story: You can use your branding and typography knowledge to create designs for various mediums and outlets, like social media, online advertisements, and websites. It's important to know which layouts and sizes each medium requires to help you create designs that convey the story of the client's brand.

  • Pitch design ideas to clients: Regularly meet with clients in-person to pitch your ideas for upcoming designs based on their brand guidelines, preferences, and objectives. Use your presentation and communication skills to convey your ideas and plans for success.

  • Meet deadlines for many projects: Clients may assign design tasks daily, from print advertisements to web pages. It's essential to change your focus between work items to help ensure you're completing your tasks by their deadlines.

Ways to highlight your graphic designer skills

When applying for graphic designer positions, highlighting your relevant skills can improve your chances of obtaining the job. Here are some ways you can do that on your resume, cover letter, and during a job interview:

On your resume

Create a bullet-point list of eight to ten skills you have that apply to the position. To determine the skills to include, analyze the employer's job description or posting. They typically include what employers want candidates to have, so include a few on your resume if you possess them. This shows employers that you have the required experience for the position.

Related: How to Write a Graphic Designer Resume (Tips and Example)

On your cover letter

Expand on one or two skills on your cover letter by mentioning specific examples of times you used them successfully. For example, you may talk about a time you completed three graphic design projects in a day to adhere to your strict deadlines. Including real-life examples shows employers what skills you have and how you use them successfully at work.

Related: How to Write a Graphic Design Cover Letter (With Example)

In your job interview

If your resume and cover letter are successful, you may receive an invitation to interview. During the meeting, try to share more examples or stories of times you used your abilities successfully. You can also demonstrate fundamental soft skills like communication or time management by interacting with the interviewer and arriving on time.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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