Graphic Designers

Show, don’t tell

Graphic design is the creation of visual content to convey a message — the message or purpose of that content, and how the design delivers upon it, is crucial to its success.

What do graphic designers do?

Graphic designers generally use computer software to create the final visual elements of a piece of work. The list of things that could comprise is literally endless, but common things include:

  • Art direction
  • Content layout
  • Website/interactive design
  • Designing physical items (e.g. posters, flyers, magazines, signage, clothing, etc.)
  • Developing corporate identity systems (e.g. corporate colours, logos, etc.)

Great design work is informed by both science and art in equal measures; great designers take concepts and theories about the way humans process visual information and combine it with their creative flair, to produce clear and eye-catching work. It is often said that the best designs go unnoticed because they appear as our brains expect.

Most organizations have a set of rules that determine how they are represented graphically, commonly referred to as brand guidelines. These rules ensure that the organization is represented consistently wherever their brand appears, and it’s essential that graphic designers follow them to produce work that is “on-brand”. Graphic designers are often instrumental in creating and maintaining these guidelines.

What don’t graphic designers do?

For every piece of design work a balance must be struck between form and function, and in order to get the most out of a graphic designer the priorities for that piece of work must be clearly shared with them. Graphic designers should be provided with a creative brief and the specific elements to be included in their design, for example text and photos, before they can get to work. They are not mind readers, and need to be provided with clear instructions/boundaries to work within, otherwise the final design will likely not deliver what you expect.

Similarly they should not be expected to write the text, take the photographs, or produce the illustrations which appears in the design — this work would be done by a writer, photographer or illustrator.

How do I hire a graphic designer?

VPFO Communications & Engagement maintains a list of graphic designers for different roles and work. Please reach out to your VPFO communications advisor and they will help you identify the professionals you need and connect you with one of our approved vendors.


GDC is Canada’s national association for design professionals. Supporting and advancing the design profession through advocacy, education, community building, and CGD™ certification.
Graphic Designers of Canada website