Graphic Designers and Illustrators

(NOC 5241)

in All Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport

Graphic designers conceptualize and produce graphic art and visual materials to communicate information for publications, advertising, films, packaging, posters, signs, and interactive media like websites and CDs. They work for advertising and graphic design firms, by organizations 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, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 45 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate Moderate rate of unemployment in 2019

Compared to: All Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport

  • Estimate 60 employment change, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 765 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Some graphic designers were laid off because of the pandemic. Demand for certain services provided by this occupation—like advertising—was adversely affected by closures and revenue challenges in some industries.

Prospects for graphic designers and illustrators are highly dependent on their industry or field of expertise. For example, there has been a large decline in print advertising during the pandemic, reducing the need for graphic designers in that field. The overall outlook has been limited in recent years, in part because of increased competition from remote workers. Many graphic designers are self-employed and do contract work. There may be several jobseekers vying for a single full-time graphic design opening which may be less precarious than freelancing. Those seeking employment in the video game and animation sector have better prospects. Some employers in these industries have indicated that favourable conditions have resulted in a shortage of illustrators and animators.

The median employment income for the 58% of Graphic Designers and Illustrators who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $35,192. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, the 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

$21.39

Median

$34.25

Maximum

Annual Pay

$3,364

Minimum

$28,066

Median

$67,128

Maximum

Compared to: All Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport

Hourly Pay

$12.55

Minimum

$24.73

Median

$36.29

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 communicate information for publications, advertising, films, packaging, posters, signs, and interactive media like websites and CDs. They work for advertising and graphic design firms, by organizations 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:

  • Consult with clients to establish the overall look, graphic elements, and content of communications materials to meet their needs.
  • Determine the best medium to produce the desired visual effect and the most appropriate form of communication.
  • Develop the graphic elements that meet the clients' objectives.
  • Prepare sketches, layouts, and graphic elements of the subjects 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 like websites, CDs, and interactive terminals.
  • Coordinate subcontracting.
  • Work in a multidisciplinary environment.
  • Supervise other graphic designers or graphic arts technicians.

Illustrators:

  • Consult with clients to determine the nature and content of illustrations 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 like books, magazines, packaging, greeting cards and stationery.
  • Help develop storyboards for electronic productions like 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 field like 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

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

1,130

employed in 2016

79.6%

employed full-time

33.2%

self employed

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

median age

Compared to: All Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport

11,000

employed in 2016

53.3%

employed full-time

29.3%

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?

68.3%

Halifax

11.0%

North Shore

8.4%

Southern

6.6%

Annapolis Valley

5.7%

Cape Breton

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

50.2%

Professional, scientific and technical services

19.7%

Information and cultural industries

12.3%

Manufacturing

4.4%

Arts, entertainment and recreation

3.0%

Retail trade

What is the age of Employment?

29.0%

25-34

27.0%

35-44

18.0%

45-54

12.0%

55-64

11.0%

15-24

3.0%

65+

Compared to: All Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport

29.7%

15-24

15.9%

35-44

15.7%

45-54

15.4%

25-34

14.9%

55-64

Top levels of education

39.2%

College Diploma

$28,429 median annual income
35.7%

Bachelor

$30,633 median annual income
13.7%

High school

$22,350 median annual income
3.1%

Master

$33,458 median annual income
2.6%

Diploma Below Bachelor

N/A

Compared to: All Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport

26.4%

Bachelor

$17,829 median annual income
24.9%

High school

$7,552 median annual income
19.5%

College Diploma

$22,120 median annual income
13.7%

Less than high school

$2,922 median annual income
7.9%

Master

$36,173 median annual income

Education & training

Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics and Special Effects

College or University Program

These programs prepare students 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. They 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.

Institutions providing this program

Maritime Business College

Lower Sackville, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus

Truro, NS

Design and Visual Communications

College, Trades, or University Program

These programs focus 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 prepare students in any of the applied art media.

Institutions providing this program

NSCAD University

Halifax, NS

Game and Interactive Media Design

College, Trades, or University Program

These programs focus on the design, development, and programming of interactive media entertainment, including computer and video games, virtual environments, Internet applications, and other interactive media. They 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

Halifax, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus

Truro, NS

Graphic Design

College, Trades, or University Program

These programs prepare students to apply artistic and computer techniques to the interpretation of technical and commercial concepts. They 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

Sydney, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Ivany Campus

Dartmouth, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile

Contacts

Society of Graphic Designers of Canada
Halifax, NS
Craft Nova Scotia
Halifax, NS

Additional resources

There are no additional resources for this occupation.