Graphic artist

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wirgman's Some 'Graphic' Artists (1882)

The term graphic artist ( ancient Greek γραφική [τέχνη] , graphiké [ téchne ], "the art of writing, drawing, painting") refers to areas of application within the applied arts as well as the visual arts . While a graphic artist who works mainly by hand with the means of artistic graphics ( hand drawing , etching , woodcut, etc.) and whose works appear in relatively small editions (often individually hand-signed and numbered) or as a one -off, is usually assigned to the fine arts , is a graphic artist who mainly works with the computer to design with text and image material in combination and whose works mostly serve commercial purposes and appear in relatively large editions, more likely to be classified as applied art , i.e. so-called applied art . In the course of media development and the expansion of the concept of art since the end of the 20th century, the transitions between the two groups of graphic artists are now fluid.


The origins of the graphic arts profession (in the sense of today's applied arts ) date back to the end of the Renaissance . With the development of book printing , manual intensive activities such as book painting and calligraphy faded into the background. The need for the design of the printed typeface and a combination of typeface and image adapted to the printing technology was quickly recognized. The direct forerunners of graphic designers were therefore also typesetters . These often designed the layout and thus made creative designs and specifications for a harmonious interplay of print space , typography and images. Certain graphic work such as the design of company logos or signets through to the production of font styles or clichés were also carried out by typesetters.

Further development

With the emergence of the consumer industry and lithography as an industrial printing technique (forerunner of today's offset printing ), a special form of graphic artist, the commercial artist , who was initially known as the poster painter , developed towards the end of the 19th century . In the further course of the technical development, the so-called commercial graphic artist developed, who mainly worked in and for printing houses.

Later on, book publishers and advertising agencies emerged from this , mainly dedicated to book and advertising design and created commercial graphics . This changed the profession of graphic designer again. Classically, many graphic artists were also freelance artists (painters, illustrators, draftsmen) up until the 1950s, who trained their students, who would later become graphic artists, in their own studios. A previously completed training as a typesetter or book printer in the form of an apprenticeship or an internship was also common.

The development continued to become a graphic designer , who has now replaced the old-school commercial artist . This change is also evident in the name of the professional association BDG, which was founded in 1919 as the Association of German Commercial Graphics and was called the Association of German Graphic Designers from 1968 . In 2009 the BDG changed its name to the professional association of German communication designers .

In the professional field today, people work almost exclusively on the computer.


The specialist graphic design is at various universities as a diploma or degree ( FH ) - Degree or Bachelor or - Master offered -Studiengang. The term “designer” is, however, in contrast to academic or university degrees such as graduate designer or graduate designer (FH) or the like. not protected by law.

Vocational training as “designer” is offered by a large number of public and private schools - many of them also in the graphic field, which is why these graduates often see themselves as graphic designers. The training is not standardized and usually lasts 3 years. In Switzerland, vocational training can be done both in advertising agencies and in graphic studios as an apprenticeship or in graphic classes at design schools (so-called dual training model). The training lasts 4 years and ends with obtaining the Federal Certificate of Competence EFZ as a graphic designer (state protected title).

The graphic designer is now also called communication designer and is in close contact with his customers as well as with the printing works or manufacturers of advertising material.

Fields of activity

Work areas

In the classic area (mostly by hand):




  • Charlotte Stanek: Creative and now? Basic knowledge for graphic artists and media designers, Redline GmbH, Heidelberg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8266-1785-0 .
  • Otl Aicher: The world as a draft . Fonts on design, Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn, Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-433-03116-2 .

Web links

Commons : Graphic artist  - collection of images, videos and audio files