How is a graphic artist different from a graphic designer?


Secret language used in the design and printing industries

image from
23 August 2017
RGB, CMYK, PMS, Pixilised, DPI, Vector, EPS, Bleed. What is all this jargon?
It's most likely that you've not heard of many or any of these words unless you've come into contact with a designer or printer. They are all very important aspects of what will help make your finished product look the best it possibly can.

RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue. If you remember the old TV's back in the day, quite a few of them had Red Green and Blue coloured squares featuring some where near their logo at the bottom of the box near the screen.
RGB files are for websites and screen/monitor viewing only. They are like viewing
colours through a stain-glass window and will only be bright with light shining
through it. Printing RGB will not look like the colours on your screen, so they
need to be converted to CMYK.

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.
If you look inside your desktop printer, you'll notice that the ink colours inside are made up of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Mixed together, they print the rainbow of colours made up from the images on your screen (only if they have been correctly converted from RGB).

Stands for Pantone Management System. This is an international colour chart used by printers and designers world-wide. It's pretty much like walking into a paint shop, picking a colour from the paint swatch book and then watching the person mix the paints together until it makes the colour you've chosen. That's what a pantone colour is - a recipe for a colour.
Pantone colours (or PMS colours) are for offset (printing press) printing and will not look the same when printed digitally with CMYK inks. Converting a PMS colour to CMYK will give a closer indication of how they will look when we print them. This will avoid any surprises when you receive the finished product. Pantone colours are an important indication of the final output. When printing promotional items, or 1-2 colour printing jobs such as large quantities of letterheads or business cards etc. it is important to have a pantone colour as an indicator of how it should look. The PMS will often vary depending on what kind of surface it is printed on - coated or uncoated paper will give a different look to the final colour, which is why we have swatches for coated, uncoated and CMYK conversions, so you will know exactly what to expect.

DPI and Pixilisation
DPI stands for Dots Per Inch. Any photo or image used for printing should be a minimum of 300dpi. This will ensure that the final print out will not look pixilised, grainy or distorted. Pixilised images look unprofessional in professionally printed documents but unfortunatly are quite common and are my pet-hate! I'm often quick to jump on the phone or email my clients with concerns of low resolution files. Any image plucked off the internet is usually only 72dpi, which is why when you print it out on your home printer and even try to enlarge it, it's always a pixilated image. Internet images at 72dpi are not appropriate for professional printing and cannot be converted to 300dpi without losing quality. Keep 72dpi images for your website instead.

EPS and Vector images
EPS stands for Encapsulated Post Script. It's a type of Vector file that all designers love. Vector files are made up from lines (not pixels), the vector is made up with a PostScript code that keeps everything looking as it should no matter what size the image gets enlarged to. Not only that, but as designers we can use our magical programs to edit the EPS file to change the colours within the image, remove bits we don't need (obviously with client permission) and do a whole heap of other stuff without compromising the quality of the end product! It's also a file type used industry-wide, so designers, printers and sign writers are all able to use it correctly. You'll know that from web page, to paper and then to shop window or car wrap around, it will look the same and have the crisp, clean lines and will never be blurred or pixilated.

A bleed is a printing term for colour (or an image) that is printed to the edge of
the paper. Because no printer can print to the edge of a piece of paper without
leaving a white margin, we need to print on “oversized paper”
For example: This file below has colour and images that go right to the edge. It
“bleeds” off the page.

Bleed needs to extend past the size of the page so that when it gets trimmed, you won’t see a white hairline around the edges. (No guillotine can trim that perfectly). The bleed needs to extend at least 3mm (around each edge) past the finished size.

image from

design | print | promotional
4 November 2016
A Graphic Designer does 4 years of university and will develop concepts and technical specifications for printing. 

As a graphic artist, I can develop concepts, but work better when ideas are put forward to me to create. I have a Diploma in Graphic Arts from RMIT. I follow specifications given to me by designers and produce them for printing. This could mean that I tweak a designer’s artwork to make it possible for the printer to produce on the press. Or when a designer puts together a corporate style guide, I follow specifications detailing what font to use, the colours that need to be used and also details about where, when and how big to make the logo within a document. This is particularly important for corporate companies to ensure that all documents and printed materials are consistant throughout the organisation and all look as though they have been produced by the same person. This is why you hear about large companies spending thousands or millions of dollars on a new logo.

While style guides might be extreme for a smaller company to have, the principal behind it, consistency, will help make even the smallest organisations look professional. To make your business a brand or give your business an identity, shows your clients that you take pride in how your business looks, because there is consistency across all of your materials.

Having worked in the printing industry for many years, I have often received artwork done by graphic designers or a design studio. Sometimes, Graphic Artists are also called FINISHED ARTISTS. The description of this is pretty much in the name, we finish off the artwork ready for print to make the printer at the printing press happier when lines are a certain thickness and a whole heap of other little things that they need us to do to make sure that the finished printed item looks 100% fantastic.

On that note, there’s no way that I could possibly get an artwork concept 100% right on the first go after the initial consultation. I usually deliver a couple of ideas, and then work from there with the client to develop the next lot of ideas. This could take 2 or 3 revisions, not 1. The same thing applies across the entire industry. When major banks decide to change their logo, do you think they choose the first one offered to them by the designer? No. It can take months of work behind the scenes, because they need to consider how it will look across all different types of materials and mediums. (It’s also because they need approval by everyone on the board.)

While my turnaround time is a few days for design, not months, I pride myself on never delivering anything less than perfection to my clients. I tell all my clients, "I won't stop until I get it right for you. I only have to look at it for as long as it is on my screen. You have to look at it every time you show a client what your business is about. You need to be 100% happy for me to send it off to print"

So essentially, the difference between a designer and an artist would be comparable to a doctor and a specialist. The doctor can do a little bit of what a specialist can do, but in not as much detail and at a fraction of the cost!