Well, that would be an interesting conversation…
Traditionally these were all relatively unique roles, but over time with advancements in technology these roles have somewhat blurred.
A Graphic Designer (GD)
Is required to design communication collateral including logos, visual branding, reports, capabilities statements, magazines, websites, brochures, flyers, books, catalogues, posters, point-of-sale … Usually working directly with a client, then developing creative ideas and concepts, choosing the appropriate media and style to meet the client’s objectives.
A Finished Artist (FA)
Works under the direction of a graphic designer (usually a senior) or marketer. A senior graphic designer has already set the visual brand. They work on the layout of content (images and text) for both printed and online digital media. The role requires exceptional attention to detail, finished art knowledge (pre-press and digital ready states formats).
A Commercial Artist.
The wild card in the mix is the Commercial Artist. My formal education is that of a Commercial Artist, a title that is now defunct, swamped by the position description of graphic designer (do a google search). Traditionally the skillset of a Commercial Artist was broader than a GD and FA including fine art, signwriting, interior design (shop fronts) and even courtroom illustrations (you know the ones you see on the news).
With 20 + years of experience in various roles, I’m lucky enough to identify as all three although my illustration skills have waned over time.
I love to sink my teeth into a new brand, start from scratch with logos, style guides an entire visual brand, working directly with business owners and marketing managers.
I also have many clients where my role is that of a Finished Artist. I take direction from another designer and or marketing manager. The design and style guide is already established, I solely produce a product that adheres to the visual brand – reports, capability statement, fact sheets, and general marketing collateral.
Some tips when engaging a Graphic Designer or Finished Artist
- Do I need a Graphic Designer, a Finished Artist, or both?
- Have they got the technical experience to take on the project? I have witnessed many costly print disasters in my time due to inexperience.
- Are they creative outside the design world, do they paint, draw or other? The more creative, the better result for you.
Of course the above is just my observations, others may not agree, but it is as I see it.