Magazine covers, business logos, and book covers are all common examples of graphic design. But what is graphic design?

In this article, I'll explain what graphic design is, discuss different areas of graphic design, provide helpful learning resources, and talk about salaries for designers.

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic Design involves creating high quality visual content as a way to communicate a message to an audience. Businesses spend a lot of money to ensure that the designs for their company convey the right message for their brand.

You have probably heard of the phrase, "A picture is worth a thousand words". The ability to create a compelling visual to communicate a brand or message is a very powerful skill to have.

Basic Principles and Elements of Graphic Design

The basic principles and elements of design consist of color, space, size, shape, form, line, movement, emphasis, texture, balance, contrast and more.

Graphic designers will study all of these principles and elements so they can understand how to create an effective design.

CalArts provides an in depth look into all of these design principles through their Graphic Design Specialization.

Let's take a closer look at one of these important design elements, which is the effective use of color.

How to Use Color in Graphic Design

The use of color in design can draw a user in and elicit an emotional response. As a designer, you have to take a lot of care in choosing the appropriate colors for that particular design.

Let's take a look at an example. Have you ever wondered why companies use the color red for sales?


Red elicits a very strong response from humans. We are programmed to stop and take notice of it.

It is a very effective color when you are trying to promote a sale and convey a sense of urgency to buy now while the price is low.

In contrast, the color blue is perceived by humans to be safe and calming. Blue is a popular choice for financial institutions like banks.


These financial institutions want to the convey the message that "your money is safe with us".

To learn more about effective use of colors in design, I suggest reading up on these articles.

Different Types of Graphic Design

There are different types of graphic design that you can go into. Here is a list of some of the common areas:

  • User interface (UI)
  • User Experience (UX)
  • Publication design
  • Packaging design
  • Motion graphics

Now let's take a look at each of these areas of graphic design in a little more detail.

User Interface (UI) design


UI design focuses on how the user interacts with the interface. These designers will think about smart page layouts, easy to use interfaces, smart use of colors and textures and a sense of consistency on the page.

To learn more about UI Design fundamentals, I would suggest looking into these resources:

User Experience (UX) Design


UX designers focuses on how the user interacts with the product. The goal is to create a simple and positive user experience.

An example of good UX design would be Google's search engine. It is very simple and fast to use which creates a positive user experience.

To learn more about UX Design fundamentals, I would suggest looking into these resources:  

Publication Design


This type of design primarily focuses on print and digital media like books, newspapers and magazines.  

These designers will work closely with editors on aspects like layouts, colors, artwork and photography.

Packaging Design


These designers focus on the industrial design, visual design, and manufacturing aspects of the product's packaging.

Well-designed packaging for products will effectively sell the product's brand and make consumers interested in buying.

Motion Graphics Design


Motion graphics are used in a variety of areas like promo videos, apps, video games, title sequences and more.

These designers will start by building storyboards and then move their designs over to animations and other video art forms.

Graphic Design Tools

There are many tools that graphic designers will use to do their work. Here is a list of some popular tools that graphic designers use.

  • Reliable computer
  • Reliable hard drive
  • Tablet and stylus
  • Reliable smart phone
  • Digital camera
  • Adobe Creative Cloud (includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects and more)
  • Sketchbook

Graphic Design Salaries

Since salaries will range depending on your location, I would suggest researching Graphic Design Jobs using sites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter.

Here are a few salaries for graphic designers based in the United States. This data was provided by ZipRecruiter.



I hope this information was beneficial to you, and best of luck on your graphic design journey.