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8 types of graphic design careers to explore (2021)

Want to learn more about the job of a graphic designer? Graphic design is sometimes thought of as a single discipline, but there are actually a variety of different specializations within the field. While some graphic designers are generalists and may work on multiple types of projects, others specialize in a particular type of graphic design.

Whether you’re a beginner who’s curious about how to become a graphic designer or want to learn more about the different skills graphic designers have, keep reading to learn the eight main types of graphic design careers to explore. Let’s get straight into it.

  • 1. Brand Identity Design
  • 2. Marketing & Advertising Design
  • 3. Packaging Design
  • 4. Web & User Interface Design
  • 5. Print & Publication Design
  • 6. Lettering & Type Design
  • 7. Graphic illustration
  • 8. Data Visualization & Infographic Design

Designer by Dmitry Mòói

1. Brand Identity Design

When most people think about graphic design, they immediately associate it with designing logos. However, logo design is only one aspect of a broader specialization of graphic design which is brand identity.

Beyond logo design, identity designers also create the entire look and feel of a company’s visual presence. As part of this, they create color palettes, decide on the types of images a company will use, determine the typography, and create other accompanying visual elements.

Brand identity designers are responsible for crafting the visual identity of the companies they work for. Because of this, they’re generally responsible for creating brand style and usage guidelines that direct the work of other designers, including marketing designers and web designers.

Graphic designers specializing in branding work typically work on things like:

  • Brand Strategy
  • Typography
  • Color Palettes
  • Logo Design
  • Business Cards and/or Stationary
  • Icon Systems
  • Brand Guidelines

“I focus on guiding clients on a journey to develop and share their brand’s story in a clear and authentic way. From big-picture thinking to tiny details, I aim to connect meaningful storytelling with compelling visuals to create unforgettable experiences.” — Emily Johnston, Brand Designer

💼Browse Graphic Design Jobs on Dribbble

  1. Barquillo Ice Cream Co. Packaging fresh gourmet retro red script font typography cup packaging business vintage ice cream company logo branding vector design dribbbleweeklywarmup
  2. Barn Media music industry retro 70s funky cherry blossom dogwood barn design logo branding and identity illustration lettering branding
  3. Branding Logo Design for Aligan modern app icon app logo brand and identity branding agency branding logo design branding business identity lettering logo letter logo logodesigns logodesign logo mark logotype minimal logo modern logo a letter logo a logo a mark
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  4. Lemonpie Logo Concept grid logo grid icon identity design yellow pie lemon logotype illustraion logo identity branding logo design
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  5. Hospitall - Color Exploration 1 medical healthcare visual identity typography product design web design user interface user experience interface dashboard ui ux design swatch color palette color guide colors
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  6. TreeCard typography creative logo branding minimal app web illustration design clean minimalistic

Row 1: Brandon Palmeros, Paul Dunbar, Eashin Arafath . Row 2: Jason McCall for unfold , Filip Justić for Balkan Brothers, Stian ◒ for unfold .

2. Marketing & Advertising Design

Whether appearing online or in print, marketing and advertising designs are key elements of any company’s promotional strategy.

Since the goal of marketing and advertising is to prompt consumers to make a purchase or sign up for a product or service, graphic designers working in these areas need to have a firm understanding of behavioral psychology when it comes to purchasing behavior.

Graphic designers specializing in advertising & marketing focus on creating assets such as:

  • Print & Digital Advertisements
  • Social Media Graphics
  • Podcast Cover Art
  • Banners
  • Marketing emails
  • Brochures & Posters
  • Billboards
  • Vehicle wraps
  • Pitch Decks & Presentations

  1. Instagram Ads profile social media pattern instagram post instagram dribbble designer dribbble custom grid clean design figma ad design ad
  2. Mobile Banking Service Posters promo banking finance identity design bank advertising marketing promotional design poster user experience design identity typography mobile branding web user experience design studio ux graphic design design
  3. Heineken and the Bottle Opener advertise advertising campaign advertising design design thinking retouching photoshop advertising conceptual print ad building beer art beer bottle heineken advertisement
  4. Pay with Four – Ad Work playful colorful bright advertising google ads ad design
  5. EvDekoru Outdoor Advertising ad decoration home decoration home decor house home pattern illustration typography logo visual  identity identity design identity branding billboard outdoor advertising
  6. Retro podcast creator for Instagram retro brand brand branding listen now podcast art play pink red blue colorful guest host episode instagram template podcast template podcaster podcasting retro design podcast retro

Row 1: Jason McCall for Dribbble, tubik, Helvetiphant™. Row 2: Janna Hagan ⚡️, Alex Spenser for The Faces, Ruxandra Nastase.

3. Packaging Design

Physical products need packaging. Everything from cereal boxes to tags on designer clothing needs to be designed by someone. That’s where packaging designers come in.

These types of graphic designers need to have a strong grasp of branding as well as consumer behavioral psychology to create packages that make customers want to make a purchase.

They need to be proficient at color theory and typography, as well as any laws or regulations about the information that needs to appear on packaging (such as nutrition information).

The Beginner’s Guide to Product Packaging

  1. Branding & Packaging - Naju product design identity identity design packaging package design package branding design brand identity brand design clean colors typography branding design
  2. Lone Star - Das Bier Y'all commercial campaign beer branding design branding beer can design packagingdesign packaging
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  3. Odele typography design hair care hair bottle type packaging
  4. For Joy Case Study bottle tea beverage packaging design logo brand development identity branding focus lab
  5. Thinsters packaging branding
  6. Alicia food azambuja martin design illustration box mexican packaging tamales

Row 1: Outcrowd , Keith Davis Young, Ross Bruggink for Buddy-Buddy. Row 2: Focus Lab, Joshuah X. Miranda, Martin Azambuja.

4. Web & User Interface Design

Web and UI designers create designs for websites and apps. They need to have a solid grasp of design principles, as well as an understanding of user experience design and basic coding principles.

While web and UI designers may not actually do any coding, understanding the capabilities and limitations of the code that powers websites and apps makes them a more valuable part of any design team.

If you’re a graphic designer specializing in web design or user interfaces, you might find yourself working on projects like landing pages, marketing websites, app designs, game interfaces, or WordPress sites.

Whatever project you take on, you’ll want to sign up to Bonsai. From task and project management to invoicing and tax reports, Bonsai offers freelancers an all-in-one platform to easily manage their business.

“UI Design is a form of Graphic Design. It works within the principles of Graphic Design in terms of grid, composition techniques, color, typography, and so on. UI Design is not only the appearance of a product and its aesthetics, but it’s also a product’s character and emotion.” — Viacheslav Olianishyn, Founder @obys Creative Agency

  1. Confectionery Website Design ecommerce web design web user experience interaction design studio interface ui ux graphic design design
  2. people: mobile app onboarding product design app productdesign freelancer freelance mobile design ios onboarding application mobile app mobile
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  3. Cappadocia Travel Website booking trip ui web design website home turkey nature mountains travel balloon air balloon cappadocia
  4. Minimal Creative / Fashion Store Template minimal template ecommerce fashion store minimal store minimal web theme shop template web shop store template website store
  5. landing page: homepage saas productdesign product page header homepage landing page landingpage
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  6. Food Mobile App Design mobile app ui design minimal mobile ux ui design mobile apps mobile ui mobileapp mobileappdesign app interface ui uiux ux

Row 1: tubik, Vladimir Gruev for heartbeat, Anastasia Marinicheva. Row 2: Ruby Bacanovic, Vladimir Gruev for heartbeat, Ghulam Rasool 🚀 for Cuberto.

Graphic designers used to work entirely in the print world, and there are still plenty of opportunities for this kind of print design work in 2021.

Graphic designers in the print and publication industries need to understand the principles of good design, as well as the technical specifications of creating print-ready files. They also need to have a firm grasp of color theory and typography, as well as what types of images work best in print vs. digital environments.

Print & publication designers typically have their hands in all sorts of print-related projects such as:

  • Book covers
  • Magazine & Newspaper layouts
  • Menu Design
  • Album Covers
  • Merchandise & Apparel
  • Brochures & Flyers
  • Stationery

  1. Beverly Drive Font Specimen - Menu hoodzpah cursive coaster letterhead menu lettering midcentury modern vintage retro script font
  2. A Bright Future with Renewable Energy! cloud power renewables clean energy energy research city house sun solar editorial science climate change renewable energy
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  3. Resources Magazine Redesign environment energy science research redesign data visualisation data visualization infographic spread cover climate change editorial magazine
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  4. Book covers cover design cover book illustration vector design
  5. One Medical DC branding illustration campaign washington dc one medical
  6. Sprocket Stationary simple logo minimal sprocket gear pattern color palette blue orange modern stationary logodesing business card stationary

Row 1: Amy Hood for Hoodzpah, James Round, James Round. Row 2: Cleo Lauro, Ryan Bosse, Audrey Elise.

6. Lettering & Type Designer

An often-overlooked specialty of graphic design is lettering and type design. These graphic designers create everything from typefaces and fonts to hand-lettered designs.

Type and lettering designers need to have a thorough grasp of typographic principles, what makes a typeface legible, how concepts like kerning and line-height play into a typographic design’s overall readability.

Lettering designers often create things like signs, flyers, murals, and even wordmark logos. They may create designs either by hand or digitally.

On the other hand, type designers often focus more on creating typefaces (though they may also create one-off custom projects). There’s a lot of overlap between what lettering and type designers do.

Whichever one you are, using software like Bonsai will help you to manage all your detailed tasks, monthly projects, and more. This will keep you doing what makes you passionate, instead of the paperwork.

12 Incredible Women Lettering Artists to Follow on Dribbble Right Now

  1. Magalie Preview mark van leeuwen bold serif serif font font design typeface design type design ligatures ligature new font typeface typography font type
  2. Brave Lettering lettering art cursive letters goodtype type brave ribbon script colorful lettering
  3. 🎯03 arm script brush social distance covid elbows digital typography card bullseye target lettering
  4. Dotties Chocolate illustration typeface design type new type sign painting serif slab ice cream graphic design typeface font type design
  5. the Guardian's Do Something lifestyle insert food food type food typography script illustration lettering type calligraphy typography editorial newspaper hungry adventure
  6. La Vista custom lettering custom type main title design type typography lettering title sequence title design

Row 1: Mark van Leeuwen, Sindy Ethel, Jordan Cullen. Row 2: Kyle Letendre, Danielle Evans, Abraham Lule for Closer&Closer.

7. Graphic illustration

When you think about graphic design, you may not immediately think about illustration. However, graphic illustrators are in-demand in 2021 as brands continue to seek out custom illustration work for their online presence.

Graphic illustrators are usually tasked with creating illustrations for commercial and editorial purposes, as well as illustrations that live on web designs and social media. These types of graphic designers will often create their illustrations digitally, but some may also use more analog tools and then digitize their images.

As a professional graphic illustrator, you’ll work on all kinds of imagery spanning the gamut of:

  • Digital Products
  • Blog post & articles
  • Books & Magazines
  • Games
  • Apparel
  • And so much more…

If you’re a graphic illustrator, you might also create stock illustrations for wider use. This can be a good source of additional income as well as a way to build a reputation as an illustrator.

A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started in Product Illustration

  1. let's cook! utensils spatula cheese retro invite invitation foodie food cookbook cook ingredients cooking class cooking
  2. Grow Your Oak Children's Book kids design illustration childrens art childrens book illustration childrens book
  3. Shop Small business small bird birdman diverse short tall procreate illustration celebrate flag mailchimp shop shop small small business
  4. Health Profile for League logo health ux vector ui girl product flat design character illustration
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  6. Web Design With the Focus on the Target Audience - Blog Post landing design landing page design landing page landing websites web branding colors website illustration design webdesign website design web design

Row 1: Marisa Schoen, Adam Grason for Acorns, Joe Montefusco for Mailchimp. Row 2: Diana Traykov, Mike | Creative Mints, Outcrowd .

8. Data Visualization & Infographic Designer

Data visualization and infographic designers need to have a solid understanding of how to represent data accurately and in ways that make it easier to understand.

Working in this type of graphic design role means you need to understand how to work with large data sets and how to make that information digestible for people who aren’t data scientists.

It’s helpful for data visualization and infographic designers to have at least some background knowledge and experience with data science. The better they understand the data they’re presenting, the more equipped they are to translate that data into easy-to-understand visuals.

Infographics and data visualizations may be static or interactive (such as those used in dashboards).

“One of my favorite things about data viz design is being able to take something complex and communicate it in a clear, engaging, and beautiful way.” — James Round, Data Visualization Designer

9 Tips to Help You Start Designing Stunning Infographics

  1. The Falcon and the Dragon infographic rocket orbit mars moon star science nasa dragon falcon space spacex data visualisation data visualization infographic data viz
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  2. Real Estate Analysis App iphone app sales ios mobile yellow chart real estate profile minimal data analysis graph map ui ux data viz sketch
  3. Path to Pandemic Data Visualization magazine virus science covid-19 coronavirus outbreak pandemic data visualisation data visulization data viz editorial infographic
  4. Colours In Branding data visualization data visualisation data viz information design design information infographic illustration branding colour
  5. Orion UI kit - Charts templates & infographics in Figma locator location pin planet map presentation orion desktop chart web dataviz analytics chart template infographic data vusialisation ui kit ui dashboard
  6. Data Visualization percentage circle chart bar chart comparison chart numbers data viz chart data

Row 1: James Round, Gabe Becker for Ramotion, James Round. Row 2: Carina P, Alien pixels for Setproduct, Katie Powell for Sprout Social.

Which type of graphic design career is for you?

Whether you choose to specialize in a particular type of graphic design or become a jack of all trades, it’s useful to keep in mind that software like Bonsai will help you to manage all your projects and paperwork, from proposals and contracts, invoices and taxes, to tasks and project management. You should also keep in mind that those who do have a focused specialization can often command higher prices and are typically more in demand for the work that they do.

Ready to learn graphic design? Jumpstart your career today by checking out freelance graphic design jobs on Dribbble.

Cameron Chapman About the Author — Cameron Chapman: Editor. Blogger. Author. Designer. Copywriter. Marketer. Entrepreneur. Speaker. Consultant. Coach. I wear a lot of hats. What most of them have in common, though, is storytelling.

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