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Many Faces of Graphic Design: What Do Graphic Designers Do?

The article covers variety of questions about graphic design: definition, directions, skills needed for a successful career and a huge pack of design examples.

Today’s post continues the series of answers to FAQ in design domains. Seeing the steady interest in the issues of graphic design on Quora, we have collected the most popular questions here for our readers. They cover the following questions:

  • What is graphic design?
  • What are the creative directions of graphic design?
  • Is graphic design art?
  • Why is graphic design important?
  • What skills are needed to reach success in graphic design?
  • Can you be a graphic designer without drawing skills?

Let’s get started with theory, practice, and a big set of examples from studio designers.

What is graphic design?

Graphic design is a professional sphere of human activity that lies at the crossroads of visual arts, communication, psychology, and other expert areas. Graphic designers create the ways and assets of communication by means of graphic (visual) elements: images of different styles and complexity, photos, types and fonts, pictograms, shapes and sizes, colors and shades, lines and curves, page layouts, etc. A graphic designer makes graphics transfer the message, so they become functional. Graphic designers can be described as a type of creatives applying their talents not in the pure art with aesthetic satisfaction as a prime, but communicating and purposeful art.

video design animation tubik

What are the creative directions of graphic design?

Today, graphic design is a broad area to apply artistic talents in the diversity of forms. For instance, it includes creating:

Whatever is the goal and direction, the basic purpose of graphic design is to serve a specific goal or set of goals by means and techniques of art. Let’s check the practical examples.

Forcecop logo design tubik

Logo design

business card design tubik studio

Business cards

andre logo design branding

Truck livery design for Andre Landscape

landing design case study style search version

Interface illustration for a Colony landing page

Binned case study storyboard-1

Storyboard: illustrations for Binned promo video

design universe illustration tubik

Title illustration for Tubik blog article

stickers tubik studio digital art

Stickers design

badges illustration tubik studio

Badges for Pukapal app

opera review video animation tubik-studio

Illustration for Opera promo video

toonie alarm popup

Character design for Toonie Alarm

tubikarts book cover design

Book cover design

cinema fan illustration

Theme poster-style illustration


Is graphic design art?


In short, no, most professionals in this sphere do not position and call themselves artists.

Defining art, Merriam-Webster dictionary describes it as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects”. The objects of art are appreciated mostly for their beauty, aesthetic value and emotional appeal. And all that is not the primary goal set for design.

Graphic designers’ jobs could be described as building a bridge between the art and the functional goal-centered design. They mix the power of art and functionality within the limits of particular goals and a definite audience. “Good design is a lot like clear thinking made visual,” said Edward Tufte and that is a cool definition showing what graphic designers strive to achieve.

It’s easy to see that graphic design covers various aspects of human life dealing with visual communication, from books and posters to complex mobile apps or 3D animation. Supported by research, analysis, and testing, graphics enhance usability, strengthen branding and provide a positive user experience. That is the point where art and functionality merge and meld for the sake of making people happier by solving problems and satisfying wishes.

dating app landing page design

Theme illustration for a dating app landing page


Why is graphic design important?

This question is often asked and not so easy to answer. One of the reasons why this professional field has such a broad presence in our lives lies in the fact that people are mostly visual creatures. We tend to perceive images faster than words. We are influenced by colors and shapes. We respond to characters and symbols. We need prompts and visual hierarchy. We are dependent on emotions and feelings. The list may be prolonged – and graphic design is what makes the difference.

It rarely occurs that the object of graphic design serves only one objective. Let’s look into the core goals set for graphic assets.


This aspect deals primarily with branding, first of all, logos which set the foundation for a brand strategy. Designers have to consider multiple factors regarding the target audience, laws and rules of artistic harmony, the psychology of color and shape, impact on human perception and emotions, the current conditions on the market as well as business goals of the brand or company. Moreover, visual images are memorable which enhances brand awareness.

Whizzly mascot logo design tubik

Whizzly logo design



Beauty means much as it works like a hook for the users or viewers dealing with visual stuff from advertising to book covers, cartoons, user interfaces of all kinds, packaging, photos and loads of other things. We tend to be emotionally and aesthetically engaged. Although content and functionality are crucial for problem-solving, people still live by the unwritten rule that a good dress is a card of invitation. Attractive appearance is highly important to engage users in trying a product, watching a video, especially regarding the modern intense competition. Graphic design also becomes a powerful tool for UI beautification from small details like icons to significant elements like illustrations and mascots.

booking service ui tubik

Travel app landing page

identity event branding design_tubik

Event branding for Behance Portfolio Reviews Dnipro


Theme and mood


Visual elements, as well as copy, not only transfer the message but also set the tone and voice of communication. It may be reached with a background, typography, composition, color palette, shapes and sizes, stylistic approaches which inform the user about the product from the first seconds of contact. Visual perception plays a big role in decision-making, especially in cases of introduction: short minutes or even seconds are vital to get the user interested. As well, following popular trends, graphic designers give the object up-to-date look which is an essential factor of trust for many users.

UI navigation design elements

Illustration for a blog article on UI navigation


Explanation, information, and guiding


This aspect is presented both in print assets and digital interfaces in various tutorials, manuals, tool-tips, guides etc. A picture is really worth a thousand words: it saves precious time and helps to avoid big copy blocks. Even more, graphics based on a thorough analysis of the target audience turn on the mechanism of empathy and emotional appeal.

guidelines branding tubik design binned logo

Style guide for Binned


Navigation improvement


Custom graphic elements are a great way to improve navigation and boost usability. Practice shows it has a great impact on conversions and retaining readers, providing easy flow of journey through the website or app, map or city navigation. In addition, all this positive influence is supported by aesthetic pleasure if visual performance is consistent and keeps a harmonic composition.

tubik studio blog app

Custom category icons for a blog app

mobile ui case study tubik-blog

Artistic custom icons for Cuteen app


Characters boosting communication

Personification applied appropriately is a factor of positive user experience, it strengthens the brand image and brand awareness. That is why mascots and characters often become a part of a design concept and content strategy. And here graphic designers can show their best. Efficient mascots corresponding to expectations of the target audience provide originality and flow of communication which is closer to natural.

toonie sticker screen

Toonie mascot design


Stylish copy


This is all about typography, the important branch of graphic design dealing with letters as a design object. Copy applied to various products should be not only legible and readable but also nice, attractive and emotional. In cases of lettering for branding, it also adds such vital features as originality and recognizability.

tubikstudio teamwork designers

Creative lettering for theme illustration


What skills are needed to reach success in graphic design?


Requirements to the specialists in graphic design often include the following:

  • technical artistic skills and preferably qualification in some sort of visual art
  • artistic talent and creative nature
  • good artistic eye and feeling of harmony
  • ability to draw well
  • good skills in composition and visual analysis
  • ability to work on the analysis of the target audience and possible options of communication with it
  • ability to apply different techniques of drawing and painting, preferably both with manual and digital tools (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.)
  • ability to learn and self-improve all the time as the sphere is extremely dynamic and diverse etc.

So, if you want to build your career in this sphere, it could be helpful to think in which of the mentioned positions you feel strong and which ones need to be improved. As well, nowadays it’s vital to be quite flexible in applying diverse design tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. So, practice and training are needed all the time to get prepared for modern design tasks.

Coming from the side of knowledge, it would be very useful to get some knowledge about color theory, psychology, strategies and design flow for branding and marketing, negotiation skills, basics of business and sales and other stuff that gets designer closer to clients and final users. In addition, it gives a broader outlook and makes the process of sharing creative ideas more natural and productive.

logo design process tubikstudio

The creative process for App Shack logo design


Can you be a graphic designer without drawing skills?

Well, in short: if we are talking about graphic design without high goals for success, yes, it may happen that you can earn their living in the sphere without great skills in drawing. Still, on the ground of practice, in the cases when a graphic designer aims at professional growth, cool career, and really interesting projects, drawing skills and knowledge of academic drawing theory are a vital condition of success.

To get a bit deeper, it’s worth mentioning that in some other spheres of design it happens that you can be a high-level professional without being skillful in drawing (still, graphic design definitely doesn’t belong to them). For example, in the current conditions of the UI design field, with a variety of tools and hundreds of stocks with graphic assets like icons, illustrations, and photos, these resources may be enough for creating some kinds of interfaces. However, those who strive for originality, functional and unique graphics for their projects will create them from scratch or delegate these tasks to graphic designers. And the great high-quality graphic assets are basically grounded in great knowledge and skills of drawing and painting. Unlike other spheres, in graphic design, it is the core to be able to draw if you aim at success.

Art school and lessons of academic drawing in its classic form give a broad and solid artistic basis of composition, coloristic, drawing and painting techniques, history of arts. Adding to them the hours of elaborate training in which you practice hand-drawing, painting, sketching, ocular estimation, ability to see and transfer the slightest shades and shadows and the like, you get much stronger, more skillful and diverse as an artist. This is actually the best basis for creating nice, stylish and high-quality graphics with the complexity of any level required.

As for real examples, graphic designers at Tubik Studio do have the remarkable basis of professional training and academic qualification starting from several years of intensive studying in art schools and then moving up with majors in architecture, visual arts, and design. With all that stuff, mastering design software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and combining it with the knowledge of modern trends in digital design and art, they have worked out their personal artistic style and have developed it more and more in actual design projects accomplished by the studio as well as design concepts.

Creating illustrations and icons for real UI/UX designs and testing them in combination with other elements, working on logos and other branding elements, practicing hand-sketching and drawing as well as digital illustrations just for developing better and faster use of software, they get to the solutions which are original, beautiful and functional. Sure, this is a personal opinion based on long-term design research and day-by-day work with a team of designers.

olympic games sketching

olympic games illustration tutorial tubik blog

Sketching for Winter Olympics illustration


Today’s brief FAQ review is over, but new answers are coming very soon, stay tuned!

illustration moodboards design tubik


Useful Reading

Flat Design. History, Benefits, and Practice

Design Glossary: Color. Terms and Definitions

Functional Art: 10 Big Reasons to Apply Illustrations in UI Design

State of the Art: 15 Creative Graphic Design Concepts

Illustration in UI. Art in Action

Case Study: Winter Olympics Illustration. Step-by-Step Process

How to Create Original Flat Illustrations: Designer’s Tips

Small Elements, Big Impact: Types and Functions of UI Icons

6 Creative Stages of Branding Design: Step-by-Step Guide

Logo Design: Creative Stages

Welcome to check designs by Tubik on Dribbble and Behance; explore the gallery of 2D and 3D art by Tubik Arts on Dribbble

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