Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
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Unit Group

5241 Graphic Designers and Illustrators

Graphic designers conceptualize and produce graphic art and visual materials to effectively communicate information for publications, advertising, films, packaging, posters, signs and interactive media such as Web sites and CD-ROMs. They are employed by advertising and graphic design firms, by establishments with advertising or communications departments and by multimedia production companies, or they may be self-employed. Graphic designers who are also supervisors, project managers or consultants are included in this unit group. Illustrators conceptualize and create illustrations to represent information through images. They are almost solely self-employed.

Example Titles

  • advertising designer
  • animator – animated films
  • cartoonist
  • commercial artist
  • cybergraphic designer
  • graphic artist
  • graphic designer
  • graphic designer – multimedia
  • graphic designer – multimedia, interactive or new media
  • illustrator
  • layout designer
  • medical illustrator
  • multimedia illustrator
  • scientific illustrator
View all titles

Main duties


Graphic designers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Consult with clients to establish the overall look, graphic elements and content of communications materials in order to meet their needs
  • Determine the medium best suited to produce the desired visual effect and the most appropriate vehicle for communication
  • Develop the graphic elements that meet the clients' objectives
  • Prepare sketches, layouts and graphic elements of the subjects to be rendered using traditional tools, multimedia software and image processing, layout and design software
  • Estimate cost of materials and time to complete graphic design
  • Use existing photo and illustration banks and typography guides or hire an illustrator or photographer to produce images that meet clients' communications needs
  • Establish guidelines for illustrators or photographers
  • Co-ordinate all aspects of production for print, audio-visual or electronic materials, such as Web sites, CD-ROMs, interactive terminals, etc.
  • Co-ordinate sub-contracting
  • Work in a multidisciplinary environment
  • Supervise other graphic designers or graphic arts technicians.

Illustrators perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Consult with clients to determine the nature and content of illustrations in order to meet their communications needs
  • Develop and produce realistic or representational sketches and final illustrations, by hand or using computer-assisted design (CAD) software, for printed materials such as books, magazines, packaging, greeting cards, stationery, etc.
  • Assist in developing storyboards for electronic productions such as multimedia, interactive and digital products, television advertising and productions, etc.
  • Produce 2-D and 3-D animated drawings or computer illustrations
  • May adapt existing illustrations.
Illustrators may specialize in a particular field such as illustrations for children, advertising, editorials, humour, or medical, scientific or technical illustration, or multimedia design.

Employment requirements

  • A university degree in visual arts with specialization in graphic design, commercial art, graphic communications or cartooning
    or
    Completion of a college diploma program in graphic arts is required.
  • Experience or training in multimedia design at a post-secondary, college or technical institution may be required.
  • In addition to the arts, training in biology, engineering, architecture or a scientific field is usually required for medical, technical and scientific illustrators.
  • Creative ability and artistic talent, as demonstrated by a portfolio of work, are required for graphic designers and illustrators.

Additional information

  • Progression to management or senior design positions is possible with experience.
  • The title "registered graphic designer" is recognized by law in Ontario.

Classified elsewhere

  • Advertising managers (in 0611 Sales, Marketing and Advertising Managers )
  • Graphic Arts Technicians (5223)
  • Interior Designers (5242)
  • Painters, Sculptors and Other Visual Artists (5136)