graphic designer vs illustrator feature image
Graphic Design

Graphic Designer vs Illustrator

Have you ever thought what are the differences between completing the tasks of a graphic designer versus completing the ones of an illustrator?

These are two completely distinct professions that people tend to mistake very often for the simple fact they are not aware of the intricacies of the graphic design and the illustration domain respectively.

Each job involves different sorts of tools used, different manners to complete tasks, different principles to follow, and so on.

This article is meant to help you get a better grip on the graphic designer vs illustrator battle and choose the right path for yourself.

Whether you want to follow a career in one of the domains or you want to hire someone to complete a deed, you will understand what each profession is all about and be able to make the appropriate decision in the end.

notebook illustration

You will learn about the studies required for each type of profession and the activities that they engage in. There are both differences and similarities between the two professions and you will learn about them by reading this extensive article.

We will start with a short description of the studies that a person needs to acquire in order to become a graphic designer and an illustrator respectively; the traits and skills that a person has to possess in order to pursue one of the jobs; the tasks and activities that need to be completed and many other relevant details regarding this topic.

Here’s the list for graphic designer vs illustrator:

Academic Profile

  • In the case of a graphic designer…

Graphic designers can work with or without higher academic studies. As in any other case, people who obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design might be better paid and often looked for comparing to graphic designers who are only basing on their personal knowledge and talent.

The subjects studied include design principles, visual language, typography, conceptual abilities, branding, social design, editorial design, etc.

Depending on what the student prefers, he can orient towards one subdomain or another.

  • In the case of an illustrator…

One of the similarities between the two professions is that you don’t necessarily need special studies.

An illustrator will study other subjects, such as the investigation and application of visual communication practices, messages through media, developing a personal visual language, audiences, contexts, art history, illustration articulation, independent practice, and so on.

Illustrators have more freedom and they are imagination-oriented. No strict boundaries need to be respected.

Traits and Skills

  • In the case of a graphic designer…

A graphic designer will have to be familiarized with tools that mostly rely on IT technology. Unlike illustrators who usually draw their work before digitalizing it, graphic designers work directly with software programs.

Most graphic designers work with the Adobe Suite products or other replacement ones. Ranging from Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign to Serif Drawplus, Corel Draw, and Affinity Designer, a graphic designer has to know how to use these tools.

In addition, a graphic designer should know the basics of HTML. As in any other visual-based profession, the graphic designer should possess strong communication skills and the ability to take and give directions well.

  • In the case of an illustrator…

The job of an illustrator is oriented towards using the imagination as a prime factor. An illustrator will first draw their work and then digitalize it.

Drawing skills are paramount for a person who wants to work in this field because illustrators have to develop a unique, individual style.graphic designer vs illustrator: illustrator sketching

Customers only look for illustrators who can create something in a personal manner, that hasn’t been previously explored. Besides rich creativity, illustrators also have to know how to promote their work.

The reason behind this is that illustrators are usually freelancers or self-employed, finding customers and projects on their own. Self-promotional skills combined with good communication skills and respecting the feedback received from customers are the basic traits that an illustrator needs to have.

Finally, an illustrator should have a wide knowledge of the history of arts and – implicitly – of different styles of art to be able to complete any task given.

Tasks and Activities

  • In the case of a graphic designer…

As a graphic designer, the main purpose is to express a message by using visuals. This message has to be effectively transmitted to the audience in the manner desired by the customer.

Graphic designers have to respect the strict indications received from their clients so that the message reaches the audience in the shape they want to. This is the reason why graphic designers have to work with pre-set design elements and have to respect principles that they previously learned.

Graphic designers usually work with building an image for a company.

The branding process involves creating logos, website designs, and other similar tasks that compose the image that customers perceive when they want to purchase the services or products of a specific company. This image should be easy to remember and should transmit specific feelings or mental states.

Graphic designers have to persuade through their work and they tend to work with exact, linear designs.

  • In the case of an illustrator…

Illustrators work with other types of tasks. They don’t respect certain principles and they require more flexibility from the customers, in the sense that they can express a certain message but in their own manner and style.

Illustrators deal with a lot of commercial work, with numerous comic book houses or people who want their books illustrated.

flower illustration

Illustrators often receive projects like graphic novels and they have to dedicate a lot of their time to complete one. When referring to graphic designer vs illustrator, the projects that they engage in are very different, but the manner in which they complete them is similar.

The work of illustrators depends on the message or story that needs to be transposed from words to images. The customers are required to give the illustrators the information based on which they will perform their work. Illustrators mostly accept projects that involve illustrating all sorts of books – short stories, novels, etc.

Final Thoughts: Graphic Designer vs Illustrator

Considering all of the information presented above, you should now be able to make the difference between a graphic designer vs an illustrator. Because of the many similarities between them, making this difference cannot be done without carefully analyzing the results of their work.

A graphic designer will focus on what the client desires and wants, respecting his indications closely. An illustrator will prefer to work after their own principles, in their own style, so that the final product is representing him and meets the expectations of the client.

Both professions involve working with customers and communicating effectively, working with different digital tools, and coming up with a creative idea, but they are clearly distinguished by the final product and the purpose of their work.

No matter if you want to hire a graphic designer vs illustrator for your work or if you want to become one yourself, after reading this article you know more about each profession.

Take good advantage of the details you found here and make the appropriate choice.

You Might Also Like...