Graphic design is considered a dinosaur of the design field, and it includes a wide variety of disciplines including branding, advertising, and print design.
Visual design almost entirely focuses on developing interesting and interactive visuals for digital spaces like apps and websites.
The two terms are often used interchangeably both within and outside the design industry. While their responsibilities might overlap, graphic design is not to be confused with visual design, and this article explains how you can differentiate the two.
This is What Graphic Design Entails
The Chinese are credited with the discovery and advancement of printing (including paper printing, wood printing, and paper-making).
Great advancement was seen over the years – from medieval calligraphy to European heraldry – with the invention of logos aimed at representing the characteristics of one high-ranking elite to another.
With the birth and advancement of the first printing press in Europe, designers were able to breathe new life into art and creativity on a more improved and cost-effective level.
More people soon came to observe the significance of design and how it can convey meaningful messages with little to no words.
When properly implemented, graphic design visuals may have a massive effect on consumer behavior, thus increasing your ROI.
Graphic Design Is…
Graphic and visual design share some similarities in their job descriptions.
For instance, both pros use top-rated design software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
Both jobs use design and creativity to deliver a message to the audience, but a graphic designer focuses on creating designs using images, motion graphics, and typography.
Graphic design is used in printed as well as electronic media, and the designer’s job is to make information more accessible to the audience.
“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”
– Milton Glaser.
Beyond the basic and technical compositions of design, professionals in this industry have to go the extra mile to make the art memorable.
This needs creativity.
A graphic designer is also called a graphic artist, a brand designer, or a communication artist – and great art cannot exist without creativity and originality.
What to know the skillset one needs for this job? Learn more about the qualifications and salary expectations for graphic designers.
Visual Design Is…
It’s all in the name – visual design is about appearance.
Visual designers, therefore, work to make sure digital designs (websites, apps…) are aesthetically appealing to the audience.
While graphic designers bring a brand to life, visual designers are tasked with defining the unique voice of a brand.
A professional in this field needs to have knowledge in graphic design and branding.
It’s easy to confuse visual design with graphic design, web design, and even visual communication. Here are some pointers to help you differentiate these fields:
Visual design is a hybrid of graphic design and UI design.
Graphic design is a much larger field compared to visual design, but with the increased use of digital media, the line between the two is getting blurry.
And it can get even more confusing when you consider the job description of user interface designers.
Traditionally, graphic designers worked on print media including business cards and poster design, but these experts also need to know how to create digital media. UI designers worked on perfecting the look and feel of digital products and media.
Both professionals have a high level of understanding of design fundamentals including typography and color theory.
The job of a visual designer is to bring it all together; to streamline the visual languages of a brand or organization. While a visual design expert can work on individual projects likes logo and icon design, they are often tasked with representing entire visual campaigns.
Web Design is a Subset of Visual Design
While website designers can code in multiple programming languages, it’s not essential for a visual designer to know how to code.
Visual design has a larger scope than web design.
A web designer can be a visual designer.
For the visual designer, however, it’s not just about the website design, or the brochures and apps – they are in charge of the entire visual communication of a brand.
Don’t Confuse Visual Design with Visual Communication.
Although they can and are often used interchangeably, visual design and visual communication and not quite the same.
Take the example of social media icons.
A visual communicator’s job would be to make sure the icons send the right message. They would also make sure the design is easy to understand and instantly makes sense to the viewers.
A visual designer, on the other hand, would focus more on the look and feel of the icons. Is their placement okay? Do the colors blend well? Rounded edges or no rounded edges?
Graphic vs Visual Design: A Comparison
We have already established that graphic design is wider than visual design. Now let’s look at some specific differences between the two fields:
While graphic design focuses on a variety of media – print, digital media, branding, and web design –the professionals in this field almost always work on individual projects.
Visual designers work on streamlining the entire digital visual language for a brand. From time to time, these designers may work on individual projects that involve creating digital designs for websites and apps.
Think of it this way:
Before everything else, graphic design is about communication.
This means a graphic designer works to deliver a message, and this impacts every decision they make; from the colors they pick to the size of the design elements.
Visual designers are visual artists first, and communicators second.
Brands looking to employ visual designers often require that applying candidates possess fundamental knowledge in graphic design, fine arts, visual communications, or a related field.
It’s not always compulsory to have a four-year degree to qualify for a visual design position since most employers give a lot of considerations to experience, training or certifications.
Both visual and graphic designers are familiar with the principles of design and can comfortably use multiple design software.
The salary range for graphic and visual designers is pretty wide.
An entry-level graphic designer can expect to make about $35,000 per year. Top designers, on the other hand, can make up to $72,000 a year.
The salary range for visual design professionals starts at $44,000 and caps at $90,000.
There is only one question to ask here:
Why do visual designers stand to make more money?
Brands see visual designers as the ‘new kids on the block’ – cutting-edge professionals with a specific ability that graphic designers lack.
Factors that affect pay levels may include experience and skill, technical competence, and the strength of your visual design portfolio.
Companies like Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft are among the top employers looking to hire visual designers.
However, a lot of designers work on a freelance basis, getting the bulk of their clientele from outsourcing websites.
Do you need both a graphic and a visual designer?
Both graphic and visual designers can create digital media designers, and even do a little bit of web design.
But there are differences between the two fields:
Graphic design is about delivering a message on individual projects. Visual designers focus on developing entire visual languages for brands.
Visual designers focus exclusively on digital and web media. Graphic design can include print as well as digital media.
You should go with the professional you need. The expert graphic designers at Bunny Studio work to create the most captivating and memorable designs for print, digital, and web media.
Our experienced visual designers will help you craft and implement a unified visual language across all your digital platforms.
Having both designers for your business will ensure all your designs, digital and print, have a unique style while maintaining the same look and feel.
Taking Risks as a Designer
Design is a wide as any field can get, and it can be confusing for beginners.
What kind of designer do you want to become?
Web designers are the technologically savvy and creative professionals who build beautiful websites.
Graphic designers illustrate and draw unique designs in order to deliver a message or evoke a feeling. They work on both print and digital media.
UI and UX designers come in to interpret complex technical processes and create user-friendly interfaces.
Visual designers bring it all together.
All the fields mentioned above focus on the visual presentation of information, and it’s the job of a visual designer to craft the larger picture and ensure the audience sees the same message on every platform.
There are so many more types of designers.
You shouldn’t choose a profession based only on salary expectations. Go with what feels right for you, and if you are not sure what that is, start wherever you are.
Nobody realizes what type of designer they want to be within a day.
You can start as a web designer and end up as a graphic designer. A lot of design fields overlap which is why it’s best to focus on learning the basic skills at first.
Don’t be afraid to take on that graphic, web, UI, or visual design job next time you see it. Push your boundaries and see what you can become.
Need Graphic Designers for your Next Project?
Do you need a logo, a poster, or perhaps a unique design for your next magazine print?
We have dedicated design experts at Bunny Studio that are ready to create stunning results that will captivate your audience.