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Graphic DesignerAlternative titles

Kaihoahoa Whakairoiro

This job is sometimes referred to as:

Commercial Artist
Graphic Artist

Graphic designers create artwork or designs for the promotion or development of goods, services and ideas. They may also design artwork and/or layout for fabrics, websites, magazines and other publications, or help to develop television advertisements.

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733


Pay rates for graphic designers depend on their experience, skill and employer.

  • When starting out, graphic designers or Mac operators usually earn $35,000 to $40,000 a year.
  • Intermediate designers, with three to five years' experience usually earn between $45,000 and $55,000.
  • Senior designers with more than five years' experience may earn $55,000 to $75,000.

Source: Designers Institute of New Zealand.

What you will do

Graphic designers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss and analyse requirements and purpose of the project with their client
  • discuss how to approach the project with colleagues
  • develop design ideas by researching and brainstorming with colleagues
  • prepare sketches, instructions and layout diagrams
  • suggest production methods, materials and costs
  • show design ideas to the client
  • receive client feedback and alter the design accordingly.

Skills and knowledge

Graphic designers need to have:

  • knowledge of art materials and techniques
  • the ability to use colour and design effectively
  • expertise in printing and production methods
  • knowledge of advertising and marketing, and how people think and react to visual images
  • awareness of current market trends
  • artistic ability, including good sketching, drawing and painting skills
  • the ability to use computed-aided design (CAD) software
  • the ability to understand clients' needs and turn them into suitable designs.

Working conditions

Graphic designers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may be required to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines
  • usually work in offices and studios, but may also work from home or travel locally to attend photo shoots
  • work in conditions that may be stressful due to deadlines.

What's the job really like?

Calum Robb - Director, Graphic Design Company

Calum Robb

Like many other design graduates, Calum Robb struggled to find a job after his degree. So he and a friend Ryan set up a design business with a couple of laptops – Calum doing design and Ryan doing website coding. They kept their hospitality jobs, working on the business in their spare time. Working mostly from home, they have low overheads, so can charge a competitive rate.

Doing what he loves

"I am mainly working on website design. It's the creative flow from it I like. Sometimes I regret studying design because of the lack of jobs there but then, I still love what I do, and I wake up every day and I'm happy with what I'm doing."

Business side tedious but vital

Calum says Ryan's business skills have been vital. "He did our partnership agreement and business plan. I find that side tedious – but I have to take responsibility as well, I can't just give it all to my partner.

"I'm proud of the business. We set it up when we were 22. I never would have thought it would last this long, and we've achieved a lot for how young we are."


Graphic designers with one to five years’ experience usually earn
per year
Senior graphic designers with more than five years’ experience usually earn
per year
Source: Designers Institute of New Zealand.
Lauren Robertson talks with another colleague about a design.

Graphic designers discuss and analyse the requirements and purpose of the project with clients

Updated 18 Feb 2014