Differences Between Graphic & Multimedia Design


Art meets business in the related disciplines of graphic and multimedia design. Graphic design is the larger field, with employment of 200,870 designers working in print, broadcast, electronic and environmental media, as of May 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Multimedia designers are a subset of that. They create interactive and animated images for electronic media, video games and motion pictures, with 28,800 people employed in this area as of May, 2009 according to the BLS.

Graphic Design

  • Graphic designers use elements of typography, color, texture, illustration and photography to craft visual messages. They are tasked with solving visual communication problems on behalf of their employers or clients to enhance their images and boost the bottom line. Graphic designers create visual communication for magazines, newspapers, small business, corporations and institutions such as hospitals and universities. Employment is expected to grow by 13 percent in the field between 2008 and 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Multimedia Design

  • Multimedia design has come into it's own in recent years with the explosion of the Internet, video games and other electronic media. Multimedia designers create animation, special effects and interactive media for film, video games, websites, videos, mobile technologies and commercials. Job opportunities for multimedia designers will increase along with consumer demand for special effects television, realistic video games and 3D animated movies. Employment in the field is expected to increase by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018, according to the BLS.

Training and Software

  • For most jobs in the graphic design field, a bachelor's degree is required. Graphic designers typically show a portfolio of their best work to potential employers, and must demonstrate expertise in specialized software such as InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. Multimedia designers must be prepared to show samples of their work in this very competitive field as well. Multimedia designers master specialized software such as Flash, Dreamweaver and Autodesk Maya.

Salary Variations

  • The average yearly salary for graphic designers was $47,820 as of May, 2009 according to the BLS. Multimedia designers earned at the higher average rate of $62,810 per year according to the May, 2009 figures. Both disciplines see variations in salary according to industry and geographic location.The top paying industry for graphic design was the federal executive branch, at $74,030, and the top paying metropolitan area was San Francisco, California at $74,660. For multimedia designers, the top paying industry was technical and trade schools, at $72,830, while the top paying metropolitan area was San Jose-Sunnyvale, California, at $83,610.

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