Graphic Design specializations are areas of expertise that designers can focus on to set themselves apart and increase their income. The world of graphic design extends from every digital tool to every marketing campaign we use and see.
From graphics for the user interface to compelling digital art for marketing and interactive displays, this dynamic and consistently evolving field offers multiple specializations to those pursuing degrees in graphic design.
There are many types of graphic design suited to every passion, interest, and personality type. For example, art directors and creative directors balance the aesthetic appeal of visual representation and visual communication.
5 Specializations for Graphic Design Majors
Here are five areas of specialization for a graphic designer with a graphic design degree.
- Print Media
- Mobile Application Interfaces
- Digital Illustration
Typography might not sound like the most fascinating discipline, but its range of usage is not only incredible but vital to everything from UI design to print media marketing. Typography involves designing and executing fonts. They include those used for writing everyday documents to genuinely inspiring and even otherworldly custom fonts for marketing campaigns, email marketing templates, fine arts, and web design.
Many graphic artists choose typography as a secondary discipline, utilizing it as a side hustle. Still, genuinely skillful typographers may be employed by high-end publishing and marketing companies full-time.
Iconographers meld graphic design skills and practice with excellently honed art and photography skills. Icon design is everywhere, from clothing and accessories to the mobile apps and websites we use and visit daily.
Some designers think iconography is one of the most challenging areas of graphic design to master because of how many other skills require mastery. But, it is also one of the most lucrative. So a graphic designer with a passion and true talent for iconography will almost certainly make an excellent salary.
3. Print Media
Every business, convention, and trade show has print media to demonstrate their products, services, or opportunities, and graphic designers are responsible for designing and executing every flyer, pamphlet, and business card. It is one of the most consistent areas of graphic design regarding work opportunities.
While it may seem somewhat outdated compared to how much time society typically spends online, print media is still in extremely high demand. According to Forbes, print media is valuable in areas of physical consumer presence.
Those who choose to specialize in print media in their graphic design degree may encounter a particular type of print for which they have a passion and skill, or they may design for all kinds. Regardless, print media presents ample opportunity for freelance work and full-time employment by small and large print media companies worldwide.
4. Mobile Application Interfaces
Of all the areas of specialization in graphic design, mobile application interfaces are probably one of the most popular. Furthermore, it is one of the most highly paid.
Mobile applications are used for everything from banking to entertainment, and new apps are created and launched daily worldwide. Graphic designers who specialize in mobile application interfaces will find themselves not only with consistent work but will be paid very well to do it.
5. Digital Illustration
From ebooks to educational software, digital illustration is another perfect marriage between graphic design and art. For graphic design majors who love fine art, digital illustration is used on various platforms, even food packaging. Illustration can be challenging, but it is more than feasible for skilled graphic designers to make an excellent living. These designers must understand digital publishing, printing, and color management.
Each of these specializations is just a few of the many paths a graphic design student can pursue. But each offers ample opportunity for consistent work, excellent pay, and genuine satisfaction and joy in the creation of graphic design.
Other Popular Career Paths for Graphic Designers
Graphic designers can practice many types of graphic design. And listed below are some of the other popular graphic design career paths and graphic design specializations.
- Brand Identity Design or Visual Identity Graphic Designers
- Marketing & Advertising Design / Marketing Designers
- Packaging Design / Packaging Designer
- Web & User Interface Design / UI Design
- Print & Publication Design / Publication Designers
- Lettering & Type Design
- Graphic illustration
- Data Visualization & Infographic Design
- Environmental design
6. Brand Identity Design
Most people think about graphic design careers and associate them with logos and print design. But, logo design is just one aspect of a broader graphic design specialization called Brand Identity, Branding, or Visual Identity. Identity designers create a company’s entire look, feel, and visual presence with brand consistency.
The graphic design industry has many areas to become an expert in. So, graphic designers specializing in branding work on things like:
- Brand Strategy
- Color Palettes
- Logo Design
- Business Cards and/or Stationary
- Icon Systems
- Brand Guidelines
7. Marketing and Advertising Design
Brand identity designers craft the visual identity of the companies they work for. Because of this, they’re generally responsible for creating brand style and usage guidelines that direct other designers’ work, including marketing and web designers.
Graphic designers who specialize in this area often work on things like:
- Print & Digital Advertisements
- Social Media Graphics and Banners
- Podcast Cover Art
- Marketing emails
- Brochures & Posters
- Billboards and Vehicle wraps
- Pitch Decks & Presentations
8. Packaging Design
Physical products need packaging. Someone must design everything from cereal boxes to tags on designer clothing. That’s where packaging designers come in. Packaging design graphic designers must have a firm grasp of branding and consumer behavior. So they create packages that customers want to buy.
9. Print and Publication Design
Graphic designers in print and publication need to understand the principles of good design. Additionally, they need to know the technical specifications of creating print-ready files. Also, they need to have a firm grasp of color theory and typography and what images work best in print vs. digital environments.
Print & publication designers typically have their hands in all sorts of print-related projects such as:
- Book covers
- Merchandise & Apparel
- Magazine & Newspaper layouts
- Menu Design
- Album Covers
- Brochures & Flyers
10. User Interface Design and Web Design or UI Developers
Suppose you’re a graphic designer specializing in web design or user interfaces. In that case, you might work on projects with visual elements. Some examples are landing pages, marketing websites, app designs, game interfaces, and also WordPress sites.
UI designers create designs for websites, web apps, games, and mobile apps. Therefore, they need to have a solid grasp of design principles and an understanding of user experience design and basic coding principles.
While web and UI designers may not do any coding, they understand the limitations of the code that powers websites and apps. And this makes them a valuable part of any design team.
11. Lettering and Type Face Design
Lettering and type design is an overlooked specialty in graphic design. These graphic designers create typefaces, fonts, and hand-lettered designs. These professionals should have a thorough grasp of typographic principles. What makes a typeface legible, and how do concepts like kerning and line height play into a typographic design’s overall readability.
12. Graphic Art and Illustration
Graphic illustrators are in-demand as brands continue seeking custom illustration work or product illustration. In addition, they create images for commercial and editorial purposes, web designs, and social media. These graphic designers will often make their illustrations digitally. Still, some may also use analog tools and digitize their images.
Graphic art and illustration are often seen as being the same as graphic design. However, they’re each very different. Designers create compositions to communicate and solve problems, and graphic artists and illustrators create original artwork. Their art takes a number of forms, from fine art to decoration to storytelling illustrations.
Even though graphic art and illustration are not technically types of graphic design, so much is created for commercial use within the context of graphic design that you can’t talk about one without the others. Graphic illustrators work on all kinds of imagery like
- Blog Posts, Articles, and other Digital Products
- Apparel, T-shirt design
- Games, Books, and Magazines
- Graphic Patterns for textiles
- Motion graphics, Stock images
- Graphic novels, Picture books
- Video games, Websites
- Comic books, Album art, Book covers
- Infographics, Technical illustration, Concept Art
13. Animation or Motion Graphics Design
Animators and Motion Graphics Designers specialize in the digital design of cartoons or social media graphics. They produce content for TV, games, or also corporate videos. More specifically, motion graphics are graphics that are in motion. They include animation, typography, audio, imagery, video, and other effects in television (TV), films, and online media.
- Advertisements and Trailers
- Animated logos
- Presentations and Promotional videos
- Tutorial videos
- Websites and Apps
- Video games
- Banners and GIFs
The job is a newer designer specialty and has increased in popularity over the past decade. Recent technological advances reduced production time and costs, making it more accessible and affordable. It can be found across all digital platforms and has created many new opportunities.
14. Environmental Graphic Design
The environmental design combines graphic design with architecture, landscape design, and industrial design to create user navigation signs. For instance, in a place as confusing as an airport, these designers develop a way to communicate with passengers and staff so all travelers can understand regardless of the user’s language.
It visually connects people to places to improve their overall experience by making spaces more memorable, fascinating, informative, and easier to navigate. Environmental design is a broad type of design, here are some examples of environmental graphic design:
- Signage and Office Branding
- Wall Murals and Museum Exhibitions
- Public transportation navigation
- Retail store interiors
- Stadium branding, Event, and conference spaces
Use the Right Types of Graphic Design for the Job
Graphic design is a growing field, and the demand for specialized and skilled designers is rising. When you look for the right person to take on a design job, knowing the different types of graphic design will help you identify the specialist you need.
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