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I see myself as a multidisciplinary designer. I do both graphic design and web design, with a main focus in visual-identity design. I’m also into illustration as well as type design, and I do work for both digital and print mediums.

I'm just wondering if using the title visual designer to describe what I do would be correct? Or would it be more accurate to describe myself as graphic & web designer instead?

  • I was adding an answer but it would be too open for controversy. Visual designer "sounds" to me like you are designing just by what you see, not what the needs of the project are. – Rafael Oct 10 '15 at 19:56
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    @Rafael you are describing 'an artist' with that definition. :) – DA01 Oct 11 '15 at 18:34
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If you are confused about your own title, imagine how your clients will be confused about what kind of services you offer.

I think you should stick to graphic and web designer; that says it all. And if you do web, it's even better to use "web designer" as well when introducing your services; some people aren't even sure what a graphic designer does, but there's no mistake when saying you're also a web designer!

Graphic designers are probably the most multidisciplinary kind of designer. It refers to pretty much anything that can be digitally painted, illustrated, the layouts, printing, typography, etc.

Visual designer: I think it's very confusing and not the kind of term people search for when looking for a print or web designer. It sounds more artsy and less technical, and could be anything referring to art, video, painting, meat dress designer, fabrics, etc. Even though there is small difference between graphic and visual designer, visual designers seem to focus more on specific elements of design. Graphic & web design is more general and content/project management oriented.

You should use a title that will attract the kind of jobs you want to do the most. For example: Digital Artist | Graphic & Web Designer.

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    This is a good answer, but only in the context of the OP being a sole proprietor. "Visual Designer" can be a very specific title and me something very specific within the confines of say a large in-house design team. – DA01 Oct 10 '15 at 21:55
  • @DA01 Yes indeed. That's why I think the Visual Designer has a specific role and most likely in a team, and the Graphic Designer could be some kind of jack-of-all-trade. Frankly, I think these 2 titles suck and lack of precision. You almost have no choice to add a word that mentions what's your specialty to them! – go-junta Oct 10 '15 at 22:05
  • I wouldnt say a graphics designer is the most multidiciplinary designer of them all, of these two perhaps. But of all designers i would say a industrial designer probably is as they need to herd clients, engineer (programers and physical manufacturing/design) AND graphics designers all in one go. – joojaa Oct 11 '15 at 12:03
  • Sorry but -1 because this is based on speculation on what "Visual Designer" might mean rather than how the term is actually currently being used in job specifications. Though maybe it's regional - certainly in the UK and US, since at least 2014, "Visual Designer" has had a pretty specific current usage – user568458 Oct 12 '15 at 12:18
  • @user568458 Thanks for the feedback. The question was about what was the best option considering the skills of the OP and what's the difference between visual and graphic designer, assuming he's doing freelance. It's not speculation, visual designer is a broad term: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication_design#Visual_design You can also compare the search results on Google for both, 750k vs 154millions results...! Most of the results for visual designers contain job posting in-house for agencies and questions like "what's the difference between..." The confusion is everywhere ;) – go-junta Oct 12 '15 at 12:43
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Visual designer in its modern usage is a relatively new term usually used to refer to a specific role within a UI team. It's a more specialist niche within graphic design so I'd suggest only using it if that does reflect your experience and that is how you want to specialise.

A visual designer in this usage is person who is given a wireframe that the UI/UX designers have developed and tested, specifications and interaction patterns that the interaction designers have created, brand guidelines that visual identity designers have created, and then they use these to create the actual assets that will be used in a website, app or other digital medium.

If someone described themselves as a Visual Designer, I'd expect:

  • They have a graphic design background
  • Their focus is largely or almost entirely digital
  • Their focus is almost exclusively on producing the final image files or page mockups that are passed to a developer, and they typically defer to other specialists on things like layout architecture, interaction, etc
  • They're used to working within extremely tight specifications
  • They have experience working within a modern UI/UX team - e.g., they're used to their designs being formally user tested, they understand the different roles, they may have experience of modern digital project management structures like scrums, agile, release cycles, etc
  • Their work is probably very detail-focused - I'd expect them to be great at making things pixel-perfect and polished, but maybe a little lost if given a completely blank slate to be creative with (or, grateful for the chance to stretch their wings a little)

Whereas, if someone described themselves as a "graphic designer" I'd expect a generalist a bit more like what you describe - experience with print and digital/web, of the range from creative illustration to fine detail asset production, etc. I'd expect them to have more experience working solo, but also, possibly to be more likely to struggle to work within the tight confines of a modern UX team, and to have less experience of things like having designs formally tested, working with UI designers, etc etc.

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It depends on context. And is ultimately going to be a matter of opinion.

As go-meek states, if you are working independently and seeking clients, graphic design and web design are likely good titles to stick with.

In larger organizations, the title 'visual designer' is often used to differentiate the types of designers that may be collaborating. This could include UI designer, interaction designers, UX designers, etc. But even then, the title is going to be somewhat arbitrary and a matter of opinion.

Type Designer can me something specific, as can a Brand Designer as well. It all comes down to what you are using the title for and who the audience is.

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