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What Skills Does an Art Designer Need?

What Skills Does an Art Designer Need?

art designerFor many people, certain crafts come to mind when people think about art. The most popular image conjured up tends to be a painter splashing away with paint on their canvas. However, in modern times the art world has had to expand to accommodate new fields.

While the introduction of digital art has made its entrance, some staunch traditionalists are unsure about these new forms of art. Regardless, there is simply no denying that an art designer is here to claim their place in the art world.

An art designer, more commonly known as a graphic designer, is someone who focuses on artistic representation. These individuals will take various components of an artistic project and assemble them to match a certain aesthetic.

Though this field has been around for a while, it is becoming more popular than ever. We feel comfortable in saying that it is here to stay. In the digital world, art designers are a necessary part of any business team. It is their job to see a company through branding perfection.

If you like graphic design, here are other related posts:

graphic design career - graphic design skillsWhat Is Art/Graphic Design?

Graphic design is a field built around the placement of key art factors. This might include simple items like images or typography. It might also include something like multimedia presentations on a web page. There are a wide range of actions that graphic designers are often tasked with.

The job can look differently depending on the company, their focus, and the branding decisions. You might end up arranging a newsletter or building the framework for a website. At the end of the day, this is a versatile role built around arranging content in a way that resonates with an audience.

art schoolDo I Need to Go to School for This Field?

If you are anywhere online, chances are that you have seen advertisements for graphic design courses. The educational world built around graphic design is one filled with many options. For people who recognize that they want to be graphic designers early, university is a great option.

For those who found out later, they can take online courses. You can find any variety of coursework on graphic design depending on your time and budget.

The comprehensive degree programs are likely more thorough than others, but that doesn’t make them the only option. In many ways, crash courses are becoming a popular way to get the necessary skills.

In some instances, these quick online classes can even get you certified. Depending on what area you want to focus on, there are online classes for you. Some courses even offer packages with the tools necessary to complete them like computers.

Though any variety of these programs can help you to land a job, you can do graphic design without coursework. As is the case with any degree, these programs lend credibility. However, with any art field, you will always have the person who is self-taught and still highly skilled. It might be more difficult for you to land work without coursework, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

If you can show someone what you’re capable of, you can likely get a job. There is also always the option to offer freelance services, which does not require a degree.

pamphlet template designWhat Skills Do I Need to Be Successful?

While anyone can learn a new craft, some things must be done for them to be successful. Graphic design is a field that can be taught in a course, but there are more obscure skills for success. There are technical skills to learn, but there are many soft skills as well. All of your skills will come together to determine how well your career might go.

colorColor Manipulation

— Understanding how to manage and utilize colors in an effective way is a key component of good design. Art designers use this to not only convey tone for a piece, but also make it visually appealing. There are plenty of techniques involved in graphic design that involve colors and color patterns.

Having the ability to know how to use colors effectively is a helpful skill. This is one of many tools that people are given in design school, but some people do understand it on a fundamental level.

Attention to Detail

— For a craft like art design, having a solid attention to detail comes in incredibly handy. People often believe that this is an innate ability, but it can be taught. Having attention to detail involves being aware of what a design is composed of and understanding the pieces.

This helps art designers to create pieces that are on brand and effective. It’s a matter of learning to look for the intent behind certain pieces and see a story.

learnAn Interest in Learning

— Like any artistic field, graphic design is changing in many ways. This is caused by new trends, skills, and the introduction of new technology. Being a good art designer will require staying proficient in new styles. Since styles and tools generally determine what is considered good design, having these skills is important.

If you are okay with spending your free time practicing new techniques, you will find a fulfilling career here. The good news is that the tools and knowledge becoming available will likely help you to make beautiful designs. It can make the continuous learning fun.

Communication Skills

— The dream for any art designer is to be able to make anything that they want. However, graphic design generally has specific focuses. This means that more often than not, rather than making your design, you will be making someone else’s.

You will spend your time using your mind to help bring someone else’s vision to life. Since this is the case, communication is key. You will need to understand what your clients are looking for so you can do the project correctly. Without good communication, you will likely end up handling more revisions.

scheduleScheduling Abilities

— Since most artistic fields are inexact, learning how to schedule your time is important. You’ll need to be able to offer realistic turnaround times and timelines. This will help you to keep your stakeholders in the loop.

A good art designer will know how to estimate well to offer accurate turnarounds. People can get the wrong idea if you take too long or too little. Time tracking when you start can help with this.

artistic skills - ability to take feedbackAbility to Take Feedback

Taking feedback is an important skill that will benefit you in any field. It is particularly important for graphic design because this will guide your revisions. Being able to take the feedback your clients give and use it constructively is key.

While it is easy to get offended when someone criticizes you, it’s important to realize how valuable feedback is. This will help you to get them that much closer to their dream image for the project. Using feedback to better your work or change the direction is a valuable skill, so start practicing immediately.

artistic skills - understanding the narrativeUnderstanding Narrative

— Every graphic design piece is a narrative that must be used to present a specific message. For most people, this message might be to sell a product or an idea. It is the job of a graphic designer to understand how to tell a story using different creative components.

These abilities will help make more polished and engaging products overall. Art designers know how to use different pieces to paint a bigger picture.

creativity on demandCreativity on Demand

— To be an effective graphic designer, you have to be able to pull creativity as a skill. This means taking the time and putting in the effort to be able to flex your creativity. If you want to be a creative professional, you can’t simply wait for inspiration when it comes.

For people in this field, you need to understand how to get inspired and how to work through a creative block. This will help you to avoid burning out or becoming overly stressed with deadlines. Though no one can function 100% of the time, practicing this can raise your endurance by a long shot.

Pop Culture Awareness

— Since being an art designer is largely dependent on trends, understanding them is an important skill. Knowing what matters and what works about key pieces of art will help you to make better designs. For people who want to do the same thing every day, art design probably isn’t the best job.

To be a good art designer, you have to make items that are not only good but relevant. There is as much of a need for skill as there is for social awareness. A designer who continues to learn and explore new styles is one who will have a long career.


— Most people don’t consider patients a skill, but it can be learned. Being patient is important when you work in any kind of process that involves art for a specific purpose. While it is easy to enjoy making something that is completely your own, making art for someone else can be difficult.

You might find that you and your clients do not always agree. This can make you feel defensive or can even be irritating. As the creator in this process, your job is to help guide your clients to the best options. At times, this can be difficult, and you might find yourself working through many revisions.

graphic design software - adobe photoshopTechnical Skills

— All the art design talent in the world won’t carry you far if you can’t create it. To be a successful art designer, you need to be proficient in all common systems. This will be a technical requirement for most jobs that you will end up applying for.

The Adobe creative suite is a good place to start for your design skills. There are plenty of free courses on how to use these online, so you can begin practicing. Being proficient in these key systems will help you to prove that you can make good designs.


Art designers need a combination of technical and soft skills to be effective. The best designers are the ones who listen well, articulate well, and design well. This trio of abilities will help you to always bring your client’s visions to life.

If you become the person who can understand needs and deliver on them, you will be unstoppable. Many people get so focused on designing well that they forget the people factor. This is an easy trap to fall into that will limit your overall progress.

As the field of graphic design continues to change, different skills will become more relevant. In some ways, interpersonal skills are changing for everyone. The future of this skill might require more or less human interaction and skill.

The introduction of new trends and technology will help guide the future of what good design looks like. Do your part to stay up to date on relevant subjects in the field, and you’ll be all ready to go!

What concerns do you have to become an art designer?