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What does a
Graphic Designer do?

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Other common names for this position: Registered Graphic Designer, RGD, Graphic Artist, Commercial Designer, Commercial Design Artist, Internet Graphic Designer, Flash Designer, Illustrator, Web Graphic Designer, Webpage Designer


Graphic Designers conceptualize and produce graphic art and visual materials to effectively communicate information for publications, advertising, films, packaging, posters, logos, signs, and interactive media, such as websites. The designs that they produce don’t only have artistic goals, but also a range of commercial applications.

Graphic Designers are employed by advertising and graphic design firms, by establishments with advertising or communications departments, and by multimedia production companies, or they may be self-employed.[1]

Primary Responsibilities

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Graphic Designers are required to complete.

  • Using photographs, computer-aided design (CAD) tools, and software applications to create aesthetically pleasing images and graphics:
  • Creating mood boards, visual compositions, mock-ups, etc.; and
  • preparing sketches, composing the layout of graphic and printed materials, and graphic elements of the subjects to be rendered using traditional tools, multimedia software, such as image processing, layout and design software.
  • Consulting with clients to determine needs, preferences, and understand and interpret design briefs:
  • Liaising with clients in order to establish the overall look, graphic elements, and content of communication materials to meet their needs;
  • determining which medium is best suited to produce the desired visual effect and the most appropriate vehicle for communication;
  • developing the graphic elements and colour concepts that meet the client’s objectives;
  • presenting samples of the designs to the client;
  • discussing and finalizing details with the client, including making changes if necessary;
  • keeping clients up to date throughout the entire process of the project; and
  • presenting the finished product to the client.
  • Overseeing multiple projects at varying stages of completion, if necessary.
  • Estimating cost of materials and time to complete the graphic design:
  • Monitoring established budget and timelines for projects.
  • Using existing photo and illustration banks, as well as typography guides, or hire an illustrator or photographer to produce images that meet the client’s communication needs:
  • Establishing guidelines for illustrators or photographers;
  • coordinating subcontracting; and
  • supervising other graphic designers or graphic arts technicians, if necessary.
  • Developing and maintaining design material such as style guides and copy decks.
  • Coordinating all aspects of production for print, audiovisual, or electronic materials, such as websites and interactive terminals:
  • Producing a wide range of print and web materials, including brand applications, newsletters, signage, and advertising; and
  • creating and maintaining visual assets for use in advertising, client collateral, webpages, and other media.
  • Collaborating with other staff in major divisions of the company such as marketing , sales , and business operations during the respective phases of the project:
  • Following and contributing to the development and maintenance of the client's brand standards.
  • Remaining at the forefront of current design trends, as well as production and publishing technologies.

Daily Tasks

  • Using computer-aided design (CAD) tools to create images, designs, and graphics.
  • Consulting with clients to determine their needs.
  • Estimating and preparing budgets.
  • Establishing deadlines required to complete projects.
  • Executing projects within the constraints of cost and time.
  • Using photo banks.
  • Supervising the production and delivery of the final product.

The average Graphic Designer salary is $45,971 per year or $24 per hour. This is around 1.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $32,000 while most experienced workers make up to $64,000. These results are based on 521 salaries extracted from job descriptions.

Gross Salary56,460.49 $
CPP- 2,479.95 $
EI- 930.60 $
Federal Tax- 6,909.83 $
Provincial Tax- 3,417.85 $
Total Tax- 13,738.23 $
Net Pay*42,722.26 $
In Ontario, Canada, if you make 56,460.49 $ a year, you will be taxed 13,738.23 $. That means that your take home pay will be 42,722.26 $ per year, or 3,560.19 $ per month. Your average tax rate is 24.33% and your marginal tax rate is 31.15%.
* Deductions are calculated based on the tables of Ontario, Canada income tax.
Required Skills and Qualifications
  • Outstanding creativity and a strong artistic sense, always willing to try out new ideas and experiment with new tools.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills:
  • Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to present and defend their ideas, as well as having effective listening skills as to understand the client’s requests;
  • displaying strong customer service skills;
  • proactively soliciting and providing feedback; and
  • being able to work cohesively with other departments (e.g. sales, marketing, and operations).
  • Organizational and time management skills:
  • Having strong multitasking skills; being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
  • being able to effectively manage multiple projects/tasks of varying complexities;
  • being highly responsible, reliable, and organized;
  • being able to solve any problems that may arise during the project; and
  • being detail oriented, meticulous and structured.
  • Ability to work autonomously and under pressure, as well as working within a multi-disciplinary team environment.

Aside from the skills listed above, in order to become a successful Graphic Designer, a person needs to be creative, artistic, detail oriented, as well as to have technical knowledge in the area, especially in graphic art software applications, including Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, Illustrator, and Motion Graphics programs such as After Effects. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite is also required.

Although it’s possible to break into this line of work without getting a relevant degree or diploma, a degree or certification in Graphic Design, Illustration, Fine Arts, Web Design, Games Design or Photography is usually required by employers. Graphic Designers also need to be proficient in typography, layout and colour principles, in both print and digital environments, as well as having experience with social media. It’s of the utmost importance to develop a prolific portfolio with recent examples in multiple media and to gain relevant work experience through internships and/or placements. Building a website with original designs to display their work could be a great option for Graphic Designers.

Career progression for Graphic Designers depends mainly on their portfolio, their specialist expertise, and overall industry experience. Having the talent, passion and determination could lead them to progress into a senior graphic designer role quickly. Specializing in software applications for niche segments such as gaming, special effects, and web design increases the number of opportunities for experienced Graphic Designer professionals.

Apart from a formal education in Arts or Design, Graphic Designers are also required to have at least 2 to 5 years of experience in the area, in both print and digital environments, as well as having a demonstrated interest in remaining at the forefront of current design trends. They also must be willing to experiment with new ideas and tools.

Finally, working schedules for Graphic Designers are fairly flexible, especially if they’re freelancers. However, working in the advertising, marketing and publishing industries is deadline-driven, meaning that having to work extra hours in the evenings and on weekends from time to time to comply with the established timelines is a must.

Job Offers
There are currently 1325 available job offers for the Graphic Designer position on Below is a list of available jobs, based on Canada's most populated metropolitan areas.