Graphic Designer

Graphic design is a form of visual communication essential in the marketing of products and services to the consumer. The work of the graphic designer is always geared to the needs of the industry, and includes such tasks as designing annual reports and magazines, posters and books, product packaging and labels, as well as advertisements.

The graphic designer aims to develop a unique and recognisable identity for a product, service, organisation or idea. Their services are required whenever an advertisement goes into print in newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, leaflets, brochures, posters, show cards, package designs, signage or logos.

Graphic designers attempt to transmit specific messages by means of appropriate visual material. A message may be aimed at projecting a certain image of an organisation, transmitting information or promoting a service or product, and should be based on careful market research.

Graphic designers are also involved in the production of film and television advertisements, in the illustration of books and articles, in layouts and in the design of book covers, calendars, labels, wrappers, letterheads and trademarks.

The designing of the corporate identity of an organisation is one of the many interesting facets of the designer’s work. This may entail the creation or modification of a “logo”, which is a single, visually dominating form symbolising the characteristics, nature or name of the organisation or business. This promotes a strong visual image of an organisation. In order to produce a design that reflects general attitude, choice and taste, graphic designers require thorough knowledge of the market. Ideas need to be continually adapted and modernised in order to keep up with, or be ahead of, market trends.

Areas of specialisation for graphic designers depend on the type of work, for example, rendering artist, layout artist, lettering artist, fashion illustrator, book illustrator, freelance illustrator, and/or specifically on the type of employer, for example, advertising agency, packaging manufacturer and publisher.

Personal Requirements

  • imaginative, creative and artistic
  • interest in drawing
  • colour sense, depth perception and balance
  • good eye-hand coordination and finger dexterity
  • ability to advise people persuasively without offending them
  • good reasoning and communication ability
  • knowledge of business and products
  • good eyesight and normal colour vision
  • ability to comprehend abstract ideas and translate them into tangible products

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Art or a related subjects is highly recommended
Recommended subjects: Art, Design Studies, Engineering and Graphic Design


  • An art portfolio is required to demonstrate your creativity, abilities and commitment.
  • If you intend studying towards a degree in Fine Art at university, you will need to a Bachelor's pass in matric. If you intend studying a diploma in an art-related field, then you will need a Diploma pass in matric.
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university or requirements set by the college.


What to Study

Degree: The BA (Fine Arts) is offered at all universities except UL. The duration of the course is 4 years of full-time study.

Diploma: N.Dip: Graphic Design. The duration of the course is 3 years, and it includes specific training in advertising campaigns and design for corporate image - CUT, CPUT, DUT, TUT, NMMU, VUT.

Certificate programmes in graphic design are offered at various TVET colleges.

Various private colleges, such as The Design School, Design Centre, Intec, Inscape Design College and others, also offer comprehensive Graphic Design Diplomas.

Many institutions select students by asking them to submit a portfolio, attend an interview or pass an entrance examination of a practical nature.


  • advertising agencies
  • advertising or marketing departments of large organisations
  • printing and publishing firms
  • in-house studios of large firms, such as newspapers
  • graphic design firms
  • industrial companies
  • educational institutions
  • government departments
  • manufacturers and packaging firms
  • self-employment on a freelance basis, acting as consultant to larger firms

Further Information

68/1114 Wargrave Road, 
Henley-on-Klip, 1961
Tel: 082 554 9972

Greenside Design Center
118 Greenway
Greenside, 2193
Tel: (011) 646-1984

Getting Started

  • gain practical experience by doing posters, illustrations and layouts for schools, church and community groups
  • develop your artistic skills, take courses in art and design
  • get a portfolio of your work together
  • try to get a part-time or holiday job with an advertising agency or department
  • speak to graphic designers and artists about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

University of Johannesburg: Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

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