A Brush with a Mouse

career in graphic designing

Have you ever bought a book or a CD, impressed just by the cool cover? Or are you intrigued by the gooey, slimy aliens that threatened the very existence of mankind in Independence Day, or the disastrous cyclone in Twister, and the mind-boggling effects in Avatar? Then, the credit goes to the graphic artists. And you thought artists only dabbled with paint and brush. Well, not anymore. With the advent of the World Wide Web, graphic artists have now armed themselves with a computer. And a mouse now has replaced the brush. Unbelievable? Read on.


Graphic designing is a substantial part of the visual arts, encompassing illustration, design, printing, displays and signs, advertising, and photography. It is one the largest branches of commercial art. It includes the occupation of art director, layout artist, production manager, paste-up technician, and computer artist.
Graphic designers are concerned with ideas and problem solving to effectively meet the visual communication needs of clients. The graphic designer creates a plan for the printed page (layout and aesthetic value), organises the elements for an effective design, and selects the font, illustrations, and photographs to be used in the printed piece.
For a web page design, the job would entail knowing how to present the design content of a site, to optimise the use of graphics so as to minimise download time. You have to structure links in such a way so as to give maximum ease of navigation to the visitor on the site. In short, you have to integrate creativity with technology. Your work doesn’t end at luring surfers to your site by means of attractive designs and concepts. You have to constantly work at retaining the number of surfers and stopping them from leaving the site by introducing new designs, concepts, and ideas. This is not half as easy as it sounds.
You will have to constantly come up with new design ideas and concepts for the users. For this, you will need to arm yourself with loads of imagination and you also have to have a fair idea of what’s happening in the world of arts and design. In short, brush up your knowledge of current affairs. You have to breathe life into the dull pages with your creativity.


Graphic designers must possess artistic ability and creative thinking for designing eye-catching and effective graphics. These professionals need to be able to come up with strategies for layouts and artistic concepts, and they must be able to create visual images that engage, attract, and sell. Additionally, they need to be responsive to customer needs; be able to create new and original ideas; open to change and adjust to shifting priorities; be meticulous, thorough, and detailed, meet deadlines, and juggle multiple priorities.
You have to work under extreme time pressures and will have very defined financial and design limits to produce quality work. This profession takes a person who can listen to comments, has a good eye for aesthetic design, has a flair for colour, a good understanding of the needs of the corporate world, and an aesthetic sense. A graphic designer in the publishing industry is expected to know packages such as PageMaker, CorelDraw, Photoshop, Director, and Adobe Premier. For a web site, the requirements are Photoshop, Flash, and other animation packages including knowledge of IBM and Mac platforms as well as knowledge of HTML.


A graphic designer is almost an indispensable part of any media or web organisation. With websites vying with each other to offer enchanting e-greetings, wallpapers, screensavers, and animated pictures to surfers, apart from addictive games on several platforms, the dotcom companies have come to
rely heavily on graphic designers. In print and television media, and advertising agencies too, a graphic designer is required to draw cartoons, visuals, illustrations, charts, and so on. One may also land a job at garment manufacturing firms, publishing houses, and film and documentary companies. At a publishing house, you will be known as an illustrator and your job will involve providing visual relief to articles where pictures don’t help.


Although formal training is not strictly necessary, it is very difficult to become skilled enough to make a living without some training. Academic training leading to a bachelor’s degree in art or design has almost become a necessity. There are several options for training. After class ten a five-year integrated course in fine arts or visual arts leads directly into a job, or further specialisation in multimedia and other postgraduate programmes. Alternatively, you could opt for a bachelor’s programme in design after completing 10+2 (in any steam). All is however not lost for those who have graduated in subjects other than design. After graduation, they can opt for multimedia training or for postgraduate design programmes open for all.


Progression from junior designer is normally within one to two years with the first few jobs acting as steppingstones. You should use this time to network and make contacts in your field. Some junior designers report that their first year is at times tedious as the work is more basic than their degree work and they feel they are not fully utilising all their skills. Others report that their employers have involved them in interesting projects from day one. In large design partnerships, it may be possible to get promoted from designer to management positions such as studio manager or creative director. In general, career development depends on frequent job movements to widen your experience and develop your portfolio. In smaller companies, it is rare to have any kind of career structure and for the ambitious, the only way to gain a promotion is to strike out alone or form a partnership. Many designers become self-employed within five to ten years of their first job.


According to the industry movers, graphic designing is not a highly profitable profession if you are looking to make a fast buck. The benefits flow in for those who are patient. Freshers out of college can expect Rs.15,000-18,000 a month, which goes up to Rs.20,000-22,000 after a year. A seasoned professional with two to three years of experience can command a salary of Rs.25,000- 30,000.
There are many instances of graphic designers earning more than half a lakh rupees per month, depending on experience and creativity. What’s more, there is vast scope for freelance in this profession. Everyone wants to have a presence on the web these days and that makes for a lot of work for web designers. Initially, the going might be a little tough when you have to depend on friends and acquaintances to get you work, but once you make a name for yourself, the sky is the limit.


• National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
• Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay, Mumbai
• Srishti School of Design, Bangalore
• Department of Design, Guwahati
• MAEER’s MIT Institute of Design, Pune
• Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
• Symbiosis Centre of Design, Pune
• Wigan & Leigh College, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune,
Indore, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Chennai
• Apeejay Institute of Design, Delhi
• Raffl es Design International, Mumbai
• Creative-i College of Creative Arts, Pune
• DJ Academy of Design, Coimbatore
• IILM School of Design, Gurgaon
• Pearl Academy, Delhi, Jaipur
• Department of Printing and Media Engineering, MIT, Manipal

Volume 1 Issue 2


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