Change the world

Graphic Design

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic Design is the skill of creating visual communication. This means that you are able to communicate a message to other people visually. Visual communication takes many forms and includes logos, posters, brochures, books websites, animations, motion graphics and even film and video.

Graphic design is a globally universal skill, therfore it is possible for you to work all over the world if you so choose. You will be hired on the strength of your creative ability and design skills all of which are evident in your portfolio of design work.

Michelle Hoch

What does it take to be a good Graphic Designer?

The answer is not simple. Mostly, in our view, it requires someone with a brain, that actually works, and that pays attention to the world around them. You should be curious, read a lot, wonder how and why things work. Listen to music, talk to your friends, analyze their behavior to gain insight.

All this is important because as a designer you never know which client is going to walk through the door next, so you need to be prepared to wrap your brain around any problem that a client might throw at you -and a good general knowledge is key to this process.

Graphic designers are faced with several career directions that you can pursue. No matter which area of graphic design you choose to make your own, you will need to be prepared for working to strict deadlines. You will often be required to work in a team and so you need to be a team player and be able to step in as a leader when needed.

Typical Career options

Creative, perceptive and energetic individuals may find careers in advertising agencies, design studios, the printing industry, publishing, packaging, display and exhibition-related design. Lately, opportunities exist in digital media and web design, whilst enterprising graduates practice freelance or open their own studios.

The following is a list of typical Graphic Design related career directions:

Graphic Design

Work as a Graphic Designer in a design studio developing logos, stationery, posters, brochures, catalogues and more. Good technical skills, creativity, and knowledge of Graphic Design processes are requirements for working in this field.


Work as an Art Director generating creative ideas and oversee execution for television, radio, billboards and magazines. The emphasis lies on your creative ability – to come up with ideas ­­– and less on your technical ability. You must be able to direct teams of people including photographers and film directors.


Work as an Art Director in the magazine industry where you will be involved in layout, photography and production of publications. You must be a team player. You must possess a good mix of technical skills, design knowledge and have a good eye for photography and styling of photo shoots.

Web Design

Work as a Web Designer in a design/web design agency/studio. Strong technical understanding and creative solutions to technical restrictions are required in this field.


Work as a Packaging Designer creating effective packaging which promotes brand integrity and helps ensure premium product positioning in the marketplace. They must have a strong understanding of package-oriented production and printing processes.


Work as a Multimedia artist/designer designing title sequences for TV shows and graphics for adverts. A Multimedia Artist uses computers to create the art, graphic design, animated images, or special effects seen in a variety of media productions, including movies, television, and computer games. A Multimedia Designer often works as part of a team to create rich web sites, CD-Roms, DVDs or exhibition materials. Regardless of the medium they work in, they should be familiar with a variety of story telling tools, such as graphics, sound, video and animation.


Work as a Prepress Specialist determining preparedness of documents before going to printing. Includes checking colours, gathering fonts, colour finishes, as well as other print industry foundations.


Work as an Illustrator (for a design/advertising agency, or freelance) conceptualising, painting and drawing new images used for a variety of materials and publications. Artistic talent and knowledge of design programs such as Illustrator and Photoshop are prerequisites. Or, work as a Storyboard Artist sketching director’s ideas for shots, camera angles, camera placement, and action into a series of scenes similar to a comic strip layout.


Work as a Type Designer creating unique fonts so that words will have a strong visual impact in addition to their implied meanings.

At the NMMU we will teach you the fundamentals of all the skills you require to be able to work in the fields listed above. It is physically impossible to teach all students all of the skills required and it is up to you as a student to specialize in the direction of your choice in the Undergraduate: Degree (BTech) and Postgraduate Master's Degree programmes.

Bianca Wolmerans