6 Essential Graphic Designer Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 September 2022

Published 19 July 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 creative professionals who use design software tools to make captivating advertisements, logos, web pages or other marketing materials for their clients. A wide variety of strengths and abilities could contribute to your success in becoming a graphic designer, like time-management, communication and coding skills. Some graphic designers naturally possess these talents while others gain them through training, education and expertise.

In this article, we'll review what graphic designer skills are, provide examples of these skills, discuss how to improve them and describe how to apply the skills of a graphic designer in the workplace.

Related: 9 Types of Graphic Design Jobs To Consider

What are graphic designer skills?

Graphic designer skills are various artistic and creative skills and abilities needed 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'll build visual 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 an interesting and attractive newsletter, 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.

Various strengths, talents and abilities may help graphic designers complete the following common tasks:

  • Brainstorming design concepts and presenting these ideas to clients

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

  • Collaborating with clients to determine their goals, style guides or branding guidelines for graphic designers to reference when creating images

  • Choosing proper fonts, photos and colours to use on certain layouts

  • Applying clients' requested changes to designs as requested

Related: How To Write an Appealing Graphic Design CV

Examples of graphic designer skills

Below are some examples of skills, traits and competencies that may be beneficial as a graphic designer:

Creativity

Creativity within a graphic design context is the ability to create new design concepts or to develop existing ones in an original way. The element of creativity in the work of a graphic designer is essential. It may be one of the most important skills to demonstrate in your CV and during the interview process.

Critical thinking

Most jobs require an element of critical thinking. However, in graphic design, it's essential to determine which elements of the planning and creative process apply to the finished project. Having an artistic vision is useful but critical thinking can ensure that the graphic designer is producing suitable and project-appropriate work.

Related: How To Write a Graphic Designer Cover Letter (With Examples)

Customer service

An important skill for graphic designers is the ability to liaise with their customers or clients at every stage of the design process. Ensuring that your interactions with your customers and clients meet a standard of excellence can help you generate more employment opportunities in the future through positive reviews, recommendations and repeat customers.

Time management

This is a standard requirement in most jobs and within graphic design, it's often equally important. Designers may have to edit the design or change ideas on short notice and within certain deadlines. Being able to effectively manage your time is an important part of succeeding as a graphic designer and ensuring that you complete all of your projects on time.

Related: 11 Art Careers For You To Explore (With Salaries)

Computer and software knowledge

Graphic designers spend much of their time on the computer using various software programmes to create designs, organise tasks or communicate with clients and employees. They often use common software design tools to edit photos, make videos and build unique promotional materials for clients. Basic technical and computer skills can also be beneficial as you schedule tasks, reach out to clients and build design presentations.

Coding

Since many graphic designers may build and update web pages, they should hold basic coding abilities. Those who know more advanced coding languages can design well-made, functional websites that will impress clients. A basic understanding of Java and HTML languages are a great start for entry-level graphic designers.

How to improve your graphic designer skills

There are several ways you can improve our graphic designer skills, including:

1. Enrol in full-time studies

If you want to develop your graphic design skills, you may enrol in full-time studies through a university. Consider degree programmes in graphic design at various levels, depending on your long-term career goals and the common requirements of graphic designers in your area. University programmes in graphic design can take anywhere between two to four years to complete and provide with you the technical and creative training necessary to succeed in this role.

You may also develop professional relationships with other graphic designers during your studies that could lead to employment opportunities in the future.

2. Participate in part-time studies

Part-time studies can be another great way to improve your skills as a graphic designer. Consider seeking short-term courses or certification classes in graphic design. You can find these programmes online or in your local community. Part-time studies are an effective way to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed as a graphic designer without committing to a long-term degree program.

If you're already working as a graphic designer, part-time studies like online courses and certification classes can help you enhance your pre-existing skills.

3. Learn from experienced graphic designers

Learning from experienced graphic designers can give you first-hand experience as a graphic designer and can help strengthen your skills in this field. Consider seeking mentorship or apprenticeship to learn from an industry professional the skills, knowledge and traits that could help you succeed as a graphic designer.

Related: 10 Jobs You Can Do From Home

4. Practice independently

In order to develop your skills as a graphic designer, you may practice completing graphic design projects independently and collecting them in a creative portfolio. Consider using your free time to practice making logos, fonts, images and banners in a variety of styles and uses. By doing this, you can develop your graphic design skills and compile a portfolio that demonstrates your talents and could impress hiring managers and future clients.

Related: How to become an advertising graphic designer (with salary)

How to highlight your graphic designer skills

When seeking employment as a graphic designer, it's important to highlight your relevant skills and talents. Consider the following methods of highlighting your graphic designer skills:

1. Include your skills on your CV and cover letter

Your graphic designer CV should clearly list the soft and hard skills you've 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're applying for to identify any skills listed in the preferences and requirements sections.

Locate these skills and ensure you've listed the ones you have in your CV. You can mention these skills in the experience section by explaining how you used these skills in the past to provide value or bring in impressive results for the company. Try to include numbers or percentages when describing these results to clearly demonstrate your success. Your skills section should list each relevant graphic designer skills you possess.

Try to follow the same strategy with your cover letter by expanding on certain skills listed in the job description. Talk about how you applied these skills towards projects within your previous positions and the results they brought in once you finished the projects.

2. Create a portfolio

Creating a portfolio of your most impressive graphic design projects is an effective way to highlight your relevant skills and talents. There are many online platforms you can use to create an online portfolio, consider researching the available options and choosing the best for your situation. Be sure to include the work you're most proud of and update your portfolio regularly to ensure your most recent work is available for hiring managers to view.

3. Discuss your skills in an interview

Your resume and portfolio of work should do a great job of visually showcasing and proving your creative abilities. The interview is the ideal opportunity for you to demonstrate your organisational and time-management skills. Share examples and stories of moments when you delivered projects under tight deadlines and your process for prioritising tasks. This shows hiring managers that you're disciplined and can follow a schedule filled with strict deadlines.

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