If you’re a creative person with an eye for design, you probably want to know more about drawing and graphic designers. Since most graphic design isn’t drawn by hand, you don’t really need to be a great illustrator to establish a career in this field, although designers who are also accomplished illustrators have increased opportunities.
Graphic design refers to the use of art to enhance and promote commercial enterprise. Private businesses and the government employ graphic designers to create signs, Web layouts and advertisements to appeal to a particular audience. While it isn’t necessary to go to school to find work as a designer, competition for jobs is quite high. Design school can hone your natural eye for design so that you’re better able to compete in the crowded job market. Since graphic design is mainly used to promote businesses, these clients’ messages must be conveyed with words. As a result, much of a graphic designer’s work is in the area of typography. Using software such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop, graphic designers compose typefaces with photographs or vector graphics according to their instincts and the principles of good design.
How to Find Work as a Graphic Designer
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly a quarter of graphic designers work as freelance contractors. To find employment working for a design firm, advertising agency or other private business, you need a four-year degree or the equivalent experience. To work as a freelance designer, all you need is an eye-catching portfolio.
With so much competition for jobs and below-average projected job growth, designers with an incomplete skill set and no degree are likely to have trouble finding work. If you’re not a very confident illustrator, you can increase your employability with other skills, such as AutoCAD, offset printing or Web development. There are also many clients with a need for 3-D modeling and animation, although this software tends to be expensive.
Salary Difference for Designers with Illustration Skills
In 2019, graphic designers earned a median salary of $52,110 per year, with the top 10 percent earning $80,210 per year or more. While there’s no way to predict the increase in earnings for designers with drawing skills, these designers have access to jobs in publishing, fine art and other high-profile contracts.
A related occupation that doesn’t require illustration skills is multimedia animation and design. These professionals create 2-D and 3-D artwork for television, video games, and movies. At $75,270 per year, the median annual salary for multimedia designers is higher than the earning potential for graphic designers, but the skills required are more complicated. If you’re technically inclined but lack illustration skills, learning how to use animation software can increase your earning and employment potential.
Since most design jobs are expected to have slow growth over the next 10 years, you may want to consider Web development as an additional skill to add to your résumé. Web developers perform design tasks similar to graphic artists and optimize their designs for efficiency over the Internet.
Many established graphic artists are not great illustrators, and you can build a design career without drawing skills. When researching about drawing and graphic designers, consider how to use the skills you already have to find fulfilling employment.