Career Options: Graphic Communication and Typography

Studying graphic communication through whichever degree course options you've followed will have developed your skills in so many ways. Working in small groups will have improved your ability to work as part of a team, be interactive and communicative. Most professional typographers and designers will work in similar environments. Additionally you will be highly proficient in relevant IT skills, and be able to work to deadlines under pressure when managing a project. Project work will have also developed your ability to interpret a brief, and develop your critical analysis and problem solving abilities.
Underground map
Graduate Destinations What did last year's undergraduates go on to do? For job titles and employers see the main Destinations section.
Main Activity - Undergraduates - Typography (as %)
Main Activity - Undergraduates (as %)
Knowns only
2014
Full-time paid work 72
Part-time paid work 6
Work and study 3
Full-time study 6
Unemployed 6
Other (travel) 3
Other 3

Of course your creative skills and insights will have grown substantially, along with your appreciation of the theory and practice of design. These are the very skills that employers in the design sector seek from entrants into work in this dynamic industry, together with passion and enthusiasm, and a positive approach to developing business and marketing skills.

Sectors

These links show: how the sectors break down; the main graduate recruiters; characteristics of working in the sector and key current issues; as well as lists of job roles available in the sector.

Professional typographers and designers may work in a variety of settings but usually in a design studio environment working in many sectors including publishing, corporate identity and branding, marketing, information design, web design and broadcasting. You may be working in a department of a large organisation such as a publisher or other commercial corporation, or with a team of designers in a small design company or agency. Also as is common in the design industry many professionals work as freelancers, and in due course may set up their own businesses. The work environment would likely be an open plan setting within the designing team and in smaller agencies you may have direct contact with clients and this could involve travel to their premises, but in the larger organisations client contact would be more likely through an account manager. The design sector is a fast moving interdisciplinary one and provides a constantly changing environment. Entrants need to be versatile and always open to new ideas

Roles

Throughout your degree you are encouraged to undertake professional assignments as advertised through the department's Facebook page. You may have settled already on a particular career route through your degree course options and interests. The list below covers a number of working roles within the design industries, and refers to some other areas that graduates from your course have entered. Each job title typically links through to a detailed generic job description which includes a broad job description, salary and conditions, entry requirements, typical recruiters and links to further useful information. The University of Creative Arts produces an excellent document called Keeping pace with Communication Design.

Typographer

Typography is performed by typesetters, compositors, typographers, graphic designers, art directors, manga artists, comic book artists, graffiti artists, and everyone else who arranges type for a product. So the skills of a typographer may be used in a wide range of working environments and industries.

Graphic Designer

Graphic Designer - A graphic designer is responsible for creating design solutions that have a high visual impact. The role involves listening to clients and understanding their needs before making design decisions. They develop creative ideas and concepts, choosing the appropriate media and style to meet the client's objectives. The work demands creative flair, up-to-date knowledge of industry software and a professional approach to time, costs and deadlines.

Illustrator

An Illustrator uses creative skills in art and design to communicate a story, message or idea. Illustrators work to commercial briefs to inform, persuade or entertain a client's intended audience, adjusting the mood and style of images accordingly.

Exhibition Designer

Exhibition Designer - Exhibition designers typically work on cultural exhibitions including museums and galleries, or on commercial exhibitions which might include showcase events, trade shows and conferences. They base their designs on their interpretation of their client's ideas and requirements and also provide their own ideas in relation to product concept and likely customer appeal.

Web Designer

Web Designer - A web designer would be responsible for all aspects of creating web pages, from liaising with clients, dealing not only with the creative, but also the technical details, and maintenance of the finished product.

Publisher

Publisher - There are many roles within the publishing industry, including editorial, copy editing, and print and layout design, in addition to account handling, marketing and rights management. This information sheet includes opportunities within the related field of Journalism.

Advertising Account Executive

Advertising Account Executive - this role is normally based in an advertising agency and acts as a link between agency staff and its clients. You would manage associated administration and campaign activities with an eye on timelines and costs.

Finding opportunities

Some students will proceed onto higher degrees developing a specialisation, eg book illustration, information management, typeface design, contemporary typographic media, graphic design etc. Prospects is a good source for finding details of postgraduate courses as are individual university prospectuses, for example, Reading, the Arts, and the Creative Arts Universities.

Gaining work experience, either paid or voluntary, and/or work shadowing is always extremely useful in helping entry into work. The web links below to agencies and other sites will provide some details of some opportunities. Networking through contacts, graduates from the University and Societies, and direct approaches to potential employers may also be profitable. The speculative approach to organisations and companies can work well with an appropriately styled CV and covering letter. See the our information on Placements and other experience which has advice on how to go about this activity.

You should spend time thinking about how to construct your Curriculum Vitae (CV). Depending on the role that you're applying for you might use a traditional CV, but for roles which includes elements of design, art, technology, marketing, data presentation or production then think about designing your own Creative CV making use of your graphic communication skills. Depending on the organisation and the role you are applying for, you might consider creating your own website to support your applications and CV. The Oxford University Careers Service Creative CVs information sheet may also be helpful.

There are a number of very useful websites which incorporate information on design courses, roles within the industry, and vacancies in the Design Field. These include:

  • Skillset - comprehensive information site for the creative industries.
  • Creative & Cultural Skills - national skills council promoting the creative industry including encouraging young people to enter.
  • allabout careers a useful general careers site including many job descriptions

Many vacancies in the design field are advertised on Agency websites as below:

Further Reading

  • Chartered Society of Designers for professional designers.
  • ArtsHub - a comprehensive website for the Arts industry, including a jobs listing page.
  • designerbookbinders - professional organisation for the book binding industry.
  • a-n - organisation for the promotion of the visual arts, and support for artists. Membership for students costs £15.
  • typocircle - an organisation that links people and advertises events and courses. Student membership costs £15 pa

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