Graphic Designers and Illustrators

(NOC 5241)

in All Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport

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 CDs. 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 group. Illustrators conceptualize and create illustrations to represent information through images. They are almost solely self-employed.

Job Outlook

Limited

Read more

  • Estimate Moderate growth employment change, 2017-2019
  • Estimate 70 openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019
  • Estimate Moderate rate of unemployment in 2016

Compared to: All Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport

  • Estimate Moderate growth employment change, 2017-2019
  • Estimate 735 openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019
  • Estimate Moderate rate of unemployment in 2016

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “limited”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is below average when compared with other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a fairly large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities occur fairly regularly. However, jobseekers may face some competition for those positions. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow moderately over the next few years, which will likely provide some additional opportunities for employment (yet overall job prospects are still considered limited). With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Graphic Designers and Illustrators most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs are typically permanent positions. With employment conditions being somewhat seasonal, periods of downtime or layoff throughout the year affect some workers.

The median employment income for 61% of Graphic Designers and Illustrators who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $35,192. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

Hourly Pay

$14.50

Minimum

$18.13

Median

$25.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$3,364

Minimum

$28,066

Median

$67,128

Maximum

Compared to: All Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport

Hourly Pay

$10.81

Minimum

$16.00

Median

$31.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$945

Minimum

$11,712

Median

$60,447

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

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 CDs. 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 group. Illustrators conceptualize and create illustrations to represent information through images. They are almost solely self-employed.

Job 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.
  • Coordinate all aspects of production for print, audio-visual or electronic materials, such as Web sites, CDs and interactive terminals.
  • Coordinate 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 and stationery.
  • Assist in developing storyboards for electronic productions such as multimedia, interactive and digital products and television advertising and productions.
  • 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.

Sample job titles

  • advertising artist
  • animation artist
  • cartoonist
  • computer graphics specialist
  • content strategist
  • electronic games designer
  • graphic artist
  • graphic designer
  • interactive media designer
  • medical illustrator
  • user interface artist

Skills

To work in this field, a natural ability to draw along with a good sense of creativity and imagination are beneficial. You should have an understanding of artistic principles and be able to visualize a finished piece of work from a sketch or brief description. Computer design and production skills are essential for the commercial jobs in this field. Self-discipline in meeting deadlines and a good business sense are also very important.

Job 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.

Other considerations

Both self-employment and contract work are common in this group. Many senior practitioners choose self-employment; they manage their own businesses or freelance. Creative ability and artistic talent, as demonstrated by a portfolio of work, are required for graphic designers and illustrators. Progression to management or senior design positions is possible with experience.

By the numbers

Quick look

1,030

employed in 2016

82.3%

employed full-time

34.5%

self employed

49.6%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
50.4%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
38

median age

Compared to: All Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport

11,000

employed in 2016

59.4%

employed full-time

33.3%

self employed

55.6%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
44.4%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
38.2

median age

Where will I likely work?

68.6%

Halifax

11.1%

Northern

8.4%

Southern

6.6%

Annapolis Valley

5.8%

Cape Breton

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

Northern

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

35.4%

Professional Business Services

23.8%

Information, Culture & Recreation

8.7%

Other Professional Services

6.3%

Printing and Related Support Activities

5.3%

Computer System Design Services

What is the age of Employment?

36.4%

25-34

28.6%

35-44

18.2%

45-54

9.1%

55-64

5.2%

15-24

2.6%

65+

Compared to: All Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport

43.8%

35-44

35.4%

45-54

12.5%

25-34

8.3%

55-64

4.2%

65+

Top levels of education

40.8%

College certificate or diploma

$26,199 median annual income
35.5%

Bachelor's degree

$21,908 median annual income
12.8%

High school

$11,397 median annual income
3.3%

Doctorate

N/A
2.4%

Trades certificate

$25,895 median annual income

Compared to: All Arts, Culture, Recreation and Sport

27.5%

Bachelor's degree

$19,705 median annual income
26.2%

High school

$7,127 median annual income
20.3%

College certificate or diploma

$20,158 median annual income
10.2%

Less than high school

$2,298 median annual income
8.0%

Master's degree

N/A

Education & training

Animation, interactive technology, video graphics and special effects

This program is typically offered at the college or university level.

This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to use computer applications and related visual and sound imaging techniques to manipulate images and information originating as film, video, still photographs, digital copy, soundtracks, and physical objects in order to communicate messages simulating real-world content. These programs include courses in specialized camerawork and equipment operation and maintenance, image capture, computer programming, dubbing, CAD applications, and applications to specific commercial, industrial, and entertainment needs.

There are no schools in Nova Scotia offering this program.

Computer graphics

This program is typically offered at the trades/college level.

This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the software, hardware, and mathematical tools used to represent, display, and manipulate topological two- and three-dimensional objects on a computer screen and that prepares individuals to function as computer graphics specialists. These programs include courses in graphics software and systems; digital multimedia; graphic design; graphics devices, processors, and standards; attributes and transformations; projections; surface identification and rendering; colour theory and application; and applicable geometry and algorithms.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus

36 Arthur Street

Truro, NS B2N 1X5

(902) 893-5385

Design and visual communications - General

This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.

This instructional program class comprises any program in the applied visual arts that focuses on the general principles and techniques for effectively communicating ideas and information, and packaging products, in digital and other formats to business and consumer audiences, and that prepares individuals in any of the applied art media.

Institutions providing this program

NSCAD University

5163 Duke Street

Halifax, NS B3J 3J6

(902) 444-9600

Digital arts, general

This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.

This instructional program class comprises any general, undifferentiated program that focuses on the use of computerized digital images as the primary medium of expression in the visual and performing arts, and that may prepare individuals for a wide variety of careers using new media, including graphic design, digital animation, motion graphics, 3D visualization, game and interactive media design, music and sound design, video production, web design, photography, and other fields.

Institutions providing this program

DaVinci College of Art and Design NS Ltd.

1577 Barrington Street

Halifax, NS B3J 1Z7

(902) 429-1847

Game and interactive media design

This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.

This instructional program class comprises any program that focuses on the design, development, and programming of interactive media entertainment, including computer and video games, virtual environments, Internet applications, and other interactive media. These programs include courses in theory of games, turn-based games, real-time games, visual and interactive design, story development, animation, simulation, and programming.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Office of the Registrar

Halifax, NS B3H 4R2

(902) 494-2450

Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus

36 Arthur Street

Truro, NS B2N 1X5

(902) 893-5385

Graphic design

This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.

This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to apply artistic and computer techniques to the interpretation of technical and commercial concepts. These programs include courses in computer-assisted art and design, printmaking, concepts sketching, technical drawing, colour theory, imaging, studio technique, still and life modelling, communication skills and commercial art business operations.

Institutions providing this program

Centre for Distance Education

222 George Street, Suite C

Sydney, NS B1P 1J3

(866) 446-5898

DaVinci College of Art and Design NS Ltd.

1577 Barrington Street

Halifax, NS B3J 1Z7

(902) 429-1847

Nova Scotia Community College - Annapolis Valley Campus

50 Elliott Road

Lawrencetown, NS B0S 1M0

(902) 825-3491

Nova Scotia Community College - Waterfront Campus & Aviation Institute

80 Mawiomi Place

Dartmouth, NS B2Y 0A5

(902) 491-1100

Illustration

This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.

This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to use artistic techniques to develop and execute interpretations of the concepts of authors and designers to specifications. These programs include courses in book illustration, fashion illustration, map illustration, rendering, exhibit preparation, textual layout, cartooning, and the use of various artistic techniques as requested by clients.

Institutions providing this program

NSCAD University

5163 Duke Street

Halifax, NS B3J 3J6

(902) 444-9600

Web page, digital/multimedia and information resources design

This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.

This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to apply HTML, XML, Javascript, graphics applications, and other authoring tools to the design, editing, and publishing (launching) of documents, images, graphics, sound, and multimedia products on the World Wide Web. These programs include courses in Internet theory; web page standards and policies; elements of web page design; user interfaces; vector tools; special effects; interactive and multimedia components; search engines; navigation; morphing; e-commerce tools; and emerging web technologies.

Institutions providing this program

Academy of Learning - Halifax

6960 Mumford Road, Suite 155-1st Floor Mumford Professional Centre

Halifax, NS B3L 4P1

(902) 455-3395

Centre for Distance Education

222 George Street, Suite C

Sydney, NS B1P 1J3

(866) 446-5898

Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus

372 Pleasant Street

Yarmouth, NS B5A 2L2

(902) 742-3501

Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus

5685 Leeds Street

Halifax, NS B3K 2T3

(902) 491-6722

Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus

PO Box 1042, 1240 Grand Lake Road

Sydney, NS B1P 6J7

(902) 563-2450

Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus

36 Arthur Street

Truro, NS B2N 1X5

(902) 893-5385

Employment requirements & contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile

Contacts

Society of Graphic Designers of Canada
PO Box 1533, Station M
Halifax, NS B3J 2V3
Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council
1113 Marginal Road
Halifax, NS B3H 4P7
Tel: (902) 423-3837
Fax: (902) 422-0881

Additional resources

There are no additional resources for this occupation.

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