The 9 types of modern Graphic Designer

The recruitment process can be intimidating. Sometimes it’s hard to pick the right job because there are so many roles under the graphic design umbrella. One of the most frustrating things is that many companies advertise for a designer that’s a master of all trades. I assure you, this unicorn doesn’t exist.

In my opinion, a graphic designer is most useful when they specialise in a particular area. You’ll find that when they are strong at something they will be quite weak in some parts, and this is okay! To help with the process of finding the right person for the job, I’ve put together this guide.

Branding designer

A branding designer will design an identity based on a company’s core values. You can find them designing; logos, corporate identities, patterns, assets, and developing brand guidelines.

Tools of the trade

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign

Print designer

From my experience, I rarely come across the role of a print designer (mainly because I avoid jobs that are exclusively print focussed). A print designer specialises in creating graphics for printed products, such as; posters, brochures, display pieces etc. This person will be well versed in the printing process because they liaise with printers on a regular basis.

Tools of the trade

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign

Packaging designer

A packaging designer stays up to date with the latest trends in the packaging world. They create the boxes, labels and wrapping for different products. Like print designers, they are familiar with the printing process, using spot colours and colour wheels to get the exact colour that they need. Packaging design creates the entire experience from when you pick a product up from the shelf to when you open the box.

Tools of the trade

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, 3D software (Adobe Dimension, Esko, Cinema 4D)

Web designer

A web designer works with clients to create tailored websites following the brief. They work best when working side-by-side with a web developer. Sometimes they also design web banners, email campaigns, and social media promotions. You’ll find that the role of a digital designer can be very similar.

Tools of the trade

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

Front-end web developer

Not to be confused with a web designer (I was reluctant to include this in the list, to be honest), a web developer deals with how a website works, not necessarily how it looks. They are different from a back-end web developer, but that’s a post for another day. They typically code in; HTML5, CSS, Javascript, and JQuery.

Tools of the trade

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Dreamweaver

Social media designer

A social media designer works specifically on today’s biggest social media apps; Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, etc. They are familiar with the specifications of each platform and know how to deliver results through design. You’ll find that they have a good foundation in animation as well.

Tools of the trade

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premiere, Adobe AfterEffects

Motion graphic designer

Out of the entire list, I envy these guys the most. They create dynamic animations for all forms of digital media; TV, social media, digital displays etc. They are very effective at storyboarding ideas and bringing them to life. You’ll find them animating logos, creating opening sequences, playing with kinetic typography, and adding visual effects to videos. It’s a bonus if a motion graphic designer has some 3D experience too.

Tools of the trade

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe AfterEffects

UX/UI designer

I’ve included these two roles as one because of how closely related they are, even though they are two different things. A UX (user experience) designer solves problems from a human point of view. They generally deal with the journey of a product and how it feels, e.g. is the overall process too long? Is the page loading slowly? A UI (user interface) designer deals with presentation and interaction, e.g. should the button be blue? is everything aligned? positioning, etc. It can be very confusing distinguishing between the two because of how they overlap. To help, here’s a short video explaining it.

Tools of the trade

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Prototyping and wireframing tools (Adobe XD, Sketch, InVision)

Integrated designer

You know that unicorn I mentioned earlier? Well, this is the closest to it. An integrated graphic designer is well rounded in various aspects of design. Whether you need a poster printed or a web banner, they are familiar enough with the process to get the job done. Even though they have their hands in different pots, they still have strengths in certain areas and tend to pivot at some point.

Tools of the trade

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign

Have I missed anything out? This is a long list but I hope this helps to break down all the different shapes of a graphic designer. You might not find your unicorn, but you can fill in the gaps.