Graphic Artist vs Graphic Designer – What’s the Difference?


Hi everyone, this is Anne with Graphic Design
How To and today I’m going to tell you the difference, hopefully, between graphic artists,
production artists and graphic designers. So if you just graduated college, you’re probably
out there looking at job listings, and you might notice that a lot of the listings, their
descriptions are really similar but they all have these different titles: graphic artist,
production artist, graphic designer. And actually in college, at least at my college,
there was a completely different curriculum for a graphic artist versus a graphic designer. So first, let’s tackle production art. I think that one’s pretty much the same across
the board. A production artist is kind of like a graphic
workhorse. I was a production artist. Actually, my title was graphic artist but
I did a ton of production art in my first job as a Tshirt graphic designer. Production artists know the programs inside
and out, they’re very fast, and they’re very accurate. So they’ll take designs and make changes very,
very quickly. Usually they are not the ones who design the
graphics that they’re working on. They’re taking someone else’s project and
making changes to it or maybe just completely changing it out to a new style. So a good example of this: as my first job
as a graphic artist/production artist, I took tshirt designs, and the design was maybe made
for somebody like Arizona State, that college. And my job was to take that Arizona State
design and change it to a University of Central Missouri design. So I would change the logos, the colors, everything
about it to say Central Missouri instead of Arizona State. And that was my whole job. I could do about 30 of these in a day, on
a very good day. A day where they were really flowing and didn’t
have too many problems. And I really loved that job for a long time. Just, over time you get to where it’s second
nature and you can just put on your headphones, play music, and just get through designs all
day long. There is some creativity involved – when you
know something doesn’t look right, you can make a change and put it somewhere else, but
very little creativity when it comes to production art jobs. The problem with them is they generally become
a little boring because you’re not ever putting your own input in, you’re just getting the
designs done. And so for me, it sort of turned into…it
kind of reminded me of my old factory job that I worked in between college breaks that
was just the same thing over and over. I didn’t have to think about it, and it got
pretty boring. So that’s the downside of production work. Now a graphic artist a lot of times will
do some production work like I did, but they also make a lot more creative changes. And online a lot of people who call themselves
graphic artists are people who do, like, photo manipulations, maybe they’re doing digital
painting, but they don’t really have a strategy in mind when they’re creating their art. They’re just creating art for art’s sake. Production artists and graphic artists are
usually paid a little less than graphic designers because there’s not a lot of creativity involved,
and there’s not a lot of strategy involved. When I became a graphic designer, it was a
huge change. There was a lot more creativity involved,
a lot more strategy, and it was really problem and solution oriented. I would get a creative brief and a Word document
with all the content that needed to go into the piece I was creating. And then that’s it, I would have to completely
create a magazine ad or a billboard or maybe an infographic, and the design and everything
was up to me completely. I did have to stick with brand standards like
colors, logos, of course, and keep it on brand for that client, but the layout and everything
else was up to me. So I generally tend to think of these three
titles as production artists being very low creativity, graphic artists being a bit more
and then a graphic designer being really creative…and the pay does reflect that. However, when you’re searching for a job,
you might notice there’s so much ambiguity with job titles and a lot of overlap. So when you’re looking, don’t only focus on
the title itself. Go in and read the description to find out
what you’re really going to be doing in that position. Let’s take a look at a few different job postings
in the New York area. First, we’ve got this graphic artist position
at Prestige Custom Awards. And right here it says the graphic artist
is responsible for taking our clients concepts and ideas and translating them into a 3d design. Now, this is what I think of when I think
of a graphic artist position. They’re taking someone’s idea and they’re
making it happen. There’s not a whole lot of creativity involved
because the client is just telling the graphic artists what to do, but it is still creative. So right here it mentions, you need to use
your creative genius to take sometimes general design themes or concepts and translate them
into impactful designs that will convey the importance of the event or whatever’s going
on. And so with this position, you’re going to
need to be creative. I really feel like this position is probably
titled pretty well. It’s a graphic artist position. Alright, let’s move on to another job title. Here’s a graphic designer for the New York
City Department of Environment Protection. And here we see that this person will concept,
develop, and create a wide variety of graphic assets for all of these different applications. So they’re starting from scratch. They’re concepting, they’re developing, and
then probably presenting to their senior graphic designer. And here we have one more. This is a graphic artist at the New School,
and this says they should be adept at translating data concepts and message s into innovative
designs. So this position to me sounds like a graphic
designer. But a lot of graphic designers wouldn’t take
this, they wouldn’t apply to this job simply because of the job title. And what I don’t want you to do is to skip
a bunch of jobs that would be great for you just because you want to be really creative. A lot of jobs that are actually titled graphic
artist are graphic designer jobs. So don’t limit yourself by only applying to
those jobs that say graphic designer in the title. When I was first starting out in the industry,
I applied to ANYTHING and EVERYTHING graphics-related and I think you should, too. And then as you move on and get more experience,
you can really kind of hone down exactly what you’re looking for and be a lot more selective. Alright, that’s my video for this week. If you liked it, please click on the Like
button. And I’ll see you next week with another graphic
design video. Thank you!!!

7 thoughts on “Graphic Artist vs Graphic Designer – What’s the Difference?

  1. Good video, greetings from Colombia. I didn't know how to label my graphic work until now. I'm always thinking 'Is this graphic design or graphic art?' // You can visit me at Behance /willceronmedia

  2. Thank you so much for fulfilling my video request! I really appreciate your wealth of knowledge.

    If you’re up for some more video ideas, I’ve got plenty! 😃

    I’d love to see a video on color spaces. I usually have my color space set in Adobe Illustrator to the gracol something or other color space but I really have no idea why. Ha! I copy and pasted someone else’s vector logo into my AI file today and the color completely changed. Went from a Pantone solid coated color to a Pantone solid uncoated. Left me scratching my head. So yeah, a video on all aspects of color settings would be reeeally helpful, if you don’t already have one out there.

    This could be part of a video series titled ‘things they never taught you in college but should have’. 😅

    Thanks again, Anne! Happy New Year!

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