A Graphic Designer's Average Day

By CRAIG KUNCE

My graphic design students want to know what they might be doing when they begin their first job. So I surveyed 40 real graphic designers and asked them what they did on an average day. These designers work for real companies in the upper Midwest—primarily in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

First, results from the entire survey are shown. Then, to make the results and jobs more personal and relatable, I created a profile for each individual respondent.

Results from all 40 respondents

 

 

 

Results from Individual Respondents

Nicole
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • Created covers and catalog sheets for our Mill Hill Autumn Line
  • Created product packaging headers for our embellishments
  • Created a couple magazine ads for our Spring Mill Hill releases
  • Created instructions and postcards for the the release of two Nora Corbett designs

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop
  • Never: Animate / Flash
  • Other: Pattern Maker and Bridge

Where do you need more training?

  • I could use more training with email marketing and presentations.

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: I work with the head designer of our department to create new ideas and solve design issues. I also work with our marketing manager; I often help design varies pieces for her email blasts, newsletters, and printed pictorials
  • External: I often communicate with our designer and model stitchers to make sure our designs are released smoothly. Monthly I work with Village Custom Framing to frame our designs. I also work with La Crosse Graphics and Spectra Printing for printing instructions and doing color corrections for the postcards, and as well as our photographer.

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Every Day: Electronic Publishing
  • Never: Social Media, Web ads, email mktg, copywriting, training, video

Additional Comments

  • When a student looks for their first graphic design job, I think it's quite important that they make sure in the interview that the company is willing to grow and help them grow in return. Otherwise you can fall behind fairly quickly. I often am keeping myself up to date by watching videos and reading articles on my free time. Best of luck to all of you!

 

Jose
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • Many new websites
  • Print: Newsletters, catalog, rackcard, banners
  • Product development / marketing of a new game
  • Digital: Advertisements and website graphics

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: CMS, Illustrator, Photoshop
  • Other: Dreamweaver

Where do you need more training?

  • web, programing, animation, video, photography

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: Website developer, Photographer
  • External: clients, website developer, website hosting company, printers, online printers, copy writer, photographer.

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Every Day: Electronic Publishing
  • Never: Presentations and video

Additional Comments

  • You can still get a good job around here with just good graphic design skills, even though lots of positions will prefer you have some website design knowledge. But to survive as a freelance graphic designer (again, around here) you must know how and feel very comfortable building a website. CMS for sure, they will advertise these as no coding experience needed, which is true, but on your first request from your client to make even minor modifications to the CMS theme, or if something were to break, you better have some knowledge of html, css, coding, or, like me, be connected with a couple web developer/programmers that can help you right away, or you can get in big trouble. For 11 years I've been advertising my print design services primarily (logo, stationery, brochures, catalogs, posters, trade show) but still 80%+ of the business that comes in is web related. I work with young professionals and some really don't want print, or any parer related products I should say. Now, the program is Graphic Design, and should always focus on graphics/layout and how to create and set up these for print and web. The Website Design might eventually need to be it's own separate program, as I said, around here there seam to be more work for web design/marketing than print design/marketing.

 

John
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • Custom, branded web application "skin" for Charter Communications.
  • Video for La Crosse Center remodel (part of a pitch that we won).
  • Shaping Healthy Communities Think Tank video (Interviews, voice narration, production, etc...).
  • Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius custom, branded Web Application "skin.
  • Gensler - La Crosse promotional postcard (Design concepts, production, quotes for printing).
  • Lots of small projects sprinkled throughout. A large variety.

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop
  • Never: Animate / Flash, CMS
  • Other: iMovie, Audacity (audio software), Dreamweaver

Where do you need more training?

  • I would like to work with better video editing software than iMovie. I wish I understood programming better, but we have a staff of programmers and developers, so not really a priority for me. I know enough to be dangerous.

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: Marketing Manager, Principals, Client Services, Service Offering Managers. Also, anyone who needs help. Could be CAD technician or Office Administrator. Anyone that needs help.
  • External: We have 46 offices around the world, but most often work within our region; Chicago and Minneapolis. Sometimes Firmware (San Francisco). Sometimes work with photographers and printers. Most can be done in-house. We have a very large firmwide photo gallery that we tap into quite often.

 

Kim
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • Internal holiday party poster/invite/web banner
  • Milwaukee tool marketing campaign mailers/web ads, social media posts, icons for web page
  • Advertisements for monthly promo catalog
  • Spring products catalog
  • In-store promotional signage for various exclusive brands
  • New hiring social media posts

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: InDesign, Photoshop
  • Never: HTML / CSS, Animate / Flash, CMS
  • Other: JIRA, Fasthelp, excel

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Every Day: Web Advertising

Where do you need more training?

  • Web, video

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: Marketing department
  • External: Store managers, our out of house printing company

 

Brooke
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • I design party decorations; baby shower, birthday and bachelorette have been the topics this last month

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: Illustrator
  • Never: InDesign, Animate, Flash, HTML, CSS, CMS

Where do you need more training?

  • Web, video

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Every Day: Copywriting
  • Never: Training, Presentations, Video

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: Owner, other designers, photographer, sales, production

 

Jessica
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • web graphics (for website, e-campaigns, and social media), show programs (booklets), digital photography, flyers, brochures, logo design, print and digital advertisements, postcards

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: InDesign, Photoshop
  • Never: Animate, Flash, HTML, CSS
  • Other: Constant Contact, OvationTix (specific to the theatre but I use the CRM segment for pulling mailing lists)

Where do you need more training?

  • Web design, video, programming, and social media have really exploded since I was at WTC (2002-2004). I think the one area where I was really unprepared when I graduated that hasn't changed as technology changed was copywriting.

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Every Day: Web Ads, Email Mktg, Copywriting
  • Never: Video

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: LCT is a small company so I mainly work with two people (executive director and office manager) who at a larger company would probably be equivalent to sales, marketing, and copy editor.
  • External: Advertising agency, volunteers

 

Shelby
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • Photo restoration; logo design; website design; layout and design for various items including banners, real estate signs, post cards, business cards, etc; ad resizing

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: Illustrator, Photoshop
  • Never: Animate, Flash
  • Other: Dreamweaver, Muse

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: The owner
  • External: Clients

Where do you need more training?

  • Probably website, but Muse has been incredibly easy to work in

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Every Day: Social media
  • Never: Video

Additional Comments

  • I love what I do!

 

Margaret
Graphic Designer/Marketing Specialist

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • Tradeshow Booth Design
  • Full-page Advertisment
  • Vehicle Wrap

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop
  • Never: Animate / Flash
  • Other: Lightroom, Office, Bridge

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: I meet with engineering and sales regularly. Engineering relies on my department for support in new product development while Sales requests support in customer experiences
  • External: I meet with our configurator-hosting company fairly often as well as our freelance copywriter

Where do you need more training?

  • Microsoft Suite! The corporate world requires us to use their tools and so, I battle with not only using Microsoft excel, word, or powerpoint daily but I also have to design in it.

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Every Day: Email Marketing
  • Almost every day (4): Social Media, Web Advertising, Photography, Copywriting, Product Development, Electronic Publishing

Additional Comments

  • On a personal note, I am so thankful that I attended WWTC. The education that I received there was top-notch; it has been my experience that designers receiving art degrees at 4-year institutions are not as well-prepared or as efficient in the graphics arts field as the 2-year designers

 

Cheyene
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • Spring College Concept Designs
  • Christian camp apparel designs
  • Spring college design cover
  • Website Promotion Banners

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: Illustrator, Photoshop
  • Never: Animate/Flash, HTML/CSS
  • Other: Wilcom Embroidery Studio

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: Graphic design manager Embroidery Digitizer
  • External: Clients - Fastenal, Superior, Ashley furniture

Where do you need more training?

  • Web, programming

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Almost every day (4): Social Media, Web Advertising, Photography, Product Development
  • Never: Presentations

 

Casie
Graphic Designer/Freelancer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • Real Estate website
  • Hotel/interior photography
  • Restaurant/food photography
  • My Etsy Store
  • My website

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: Photoshop
  • Never: HTML/CSS, CMS
  • Other: Excel, FileZilla

Who do you work with most often?

  • External: clients, mentors, fellow artists

Where do you need more training?

  • SEO

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Every Day: Social Media, Photography
  • Almost every day (4): Training, Presentations

 

Nick
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • Job Ads for print and web
  • Weekly Company newsletter
  • Safety conference slideshow utilizing Premiere and AfterEffects
  • Multiple business card designs
  • Retirement Card design
  • Storefront banner 10ft x 5ft
  • MSHA Safety Refresher cards for the quarry employees
  • Educational Trifolds
  • Image edits
  • Multiple website updates (Wordpress)
  • Direct mailer for Midwest Fuels
  • HR Right-to-Know Cards
  • 6 tradeshow pull-up banners 78" x 36"
  • Photoshoot of newly wrapped semi truck
  • LinkedIn Job ad
  • Company recycling program posters

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: InDesign, CMS
  • Other: AfterEffects, Audience, Premiere, Office, Audacity, Elgato Video Capture, Handbrake, Movavi Screen Capture, Bridge, Media Encoder, Encore

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: Sales, Managers, IT, HR
  • External: Hosting company and Marketing firm

Where do you need more training?

  • Web, HTML/CSS, AfterEffects, Wordpress

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Never: Email Marketing

Additional Comments

  • This is a very diverse company that I work for which will push you to your design limits and then pull you back even faster. Your constantly trying to stay out in front of that leading edge of design but also trying to have it blend seamlessly with the past. Always a challenge and never a dull moment when your taking care of 30 different websites on a daily basis and that's just the start! Absolutely love it and wouldn't want to be doing anything else in my life but graphic design and the instructors at WTC helped me get there

 

Kayla
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • I work mostly in Photoshop designing artwork for movie covers, redesigning old artwork or creating artwork for multi-packs of movies. Once designs are approved, I will also often design the spine and back for the DVD packaging. Less frequently, I also design banners, web ads and magazine ads to promote movies.

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: Photoshop
  • Never: Animate/Flash, HTML/CSS, CMS
  • Other: Adobe Bridge, Microsoft Excel/Outlook/Word, Font Explorer, Snapz Pro

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: Sales, Other Designers, Copywriter, Proofreader
  • External: Printers, Stock Photography Companies

Where do you need more training?

  • Web Development and Coding. I don't need those skills to perform my current job, but they would be helpful to have.

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Never: Social Media, Presentations, Video

 

Amy
Graphic Designer

What projects did you design in the last month?

  • Go Monroe County Magazine Raffle Tickets
  • Business Cards
  • Brochures
  • Notepads
  • Misc Ads for the Monroe County Herald

What software do you use most often? (1 never – 5 every day)

  • Every Day: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop
  • Never: Animate/Flash, HTML/CSS, CMS
  • Other: Publisher Microsoft Office Excel/Word

Who do you work with most often?

  • Internal: All
  • External: Printers for the Magazine

Where do you need more training?

  • Web design, advanced training for new features in Photoshop and Illustrator

How much do you work with the following at your job?

  • Every Day: Photography
  • Never: Email Marketing, Training, Video

Additional Comments

  • If I were to do it all again I would get a job in my field while attending school. Not all companies offer training or support. It's more of a figure it out on your own.