Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

371 Varner Hall
Varner Hall Room 217
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(location map)
(248) 370-2154

Dr. Joe Shively
Interim Director, BALS Program
Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Advertising and Graphic Design

Graphic designers plan, analyze, and create visual solutions to communications problems, with messages differing in print and electronic media by using color, type, illustration, photography, animation and various print and layout techniques. Graphic designers are responsible for developing the overall layout and production design of various such as magazines, newspapers, journals, corporate reports, and other publications, and work within advertising in many ways. Some of the responsibilities of graphic designers in advertising include producing promotional displays, packaging and marketing brochures for products and services, designing logos for products and businesses, and developing signs and signage systems for business and government. Graphic designers also develop material for the computer and internet, including webpages, interactive media, and multimedia projects.

Graphic designers can work with drawn, painted, photographed, or computer-generated images as well as the letterforms to make typefaces in movie credits and TV ads, books, magazines, menus and computer screens. Graphic design informs, persuades, organizes, stimulates, locates, identifies, attracts attention, and provides pleasure. Graphic design combines art and technology to communicate ideas, working with a variety of communication tools to convey a message. Graphic designers represent their designs in two main mediums: images and type.

Within advertising, graphic designers use information such as the needs of the client, intended message portrayed by design, and appeal to customers or users before creating a new design. Graphic designers gather information relevant to their designs by meeting with clients, creative or art directors, and performing their own research. Once they acquire this information, graphic designers create sketches or layouts, either by hand or with a computer, to outline their design vision and include elements such as colors, sound, artwork, photography, animation, style of type and other visual elements. Graphic designers then choose a size and arrangement for the element to be displayed on the page or screen, create graphs and charts from data to be published, and consult with copywriters regarding text that accompanies the design. Completed designs are then presented to clients or art/creative directors for approval. Once the project is sent to be published or printed, graphic designers also consult with printers to help determine appropriate types of paper and ink for the publication, ultimately reviewing the proposed final copy to correct for errors prior to publication.


Graphic designers most often work in specialize design services such as advertising, printing and related support activities, newspapers, periodical books, directory publishers, and producing computer graphics for computer systems design firms. Emphasis is placed on graphic designers with experience in web site design and animation experience due to demand increases for projects using interactive media. Graphic design demand within advertising will increase as advertising firms make print and web marking and promotional materials for more products and services, especially in terms of internet advertising. A broad liberal arts education and experience in marketing and business management, such as with the liberal studies program in advertising and graphic design, make candidates better suited for positions working to develop communication strategies.

In these areas, graphic designers can create projects such as billboards, posters, logos, advertisements, brochures, magazines, book covers, newspapers, newsletters, product packaging, websites, t.v. commercials, graphics, signage, exhibits, film and video graphics, and computer graphics. Graphic designers can work with copywriters when working with text to go along with the designers image. They also work with art directors, design directors or creative directors, production managers, account executives, printer reps, photographers, illustrators and web developers.

Graphic designers working in advertising are employed by large advertising, publishing or design firms and work regular hours in well-lighted and comfortable settings. Graphic designers working in advertising such as in the printing and publishing companies are likely to work evenings or weekends due to production schedules wither shorter and more frequent deadlines. Graphic designers working in these settings typically work full-time but some also do freelance work.

Designers working for smaller design consulting firms or those who freelance work on a job or contract basis, adjust their workday to fit clients’ schedules and deadlines and tend to work longer hours and in smaller, more congested environments. Freelance designers have to please clients and find new ones to maintain a steady income, but are more flexible in their weekly schedule. Graphic designers in these settings often do full time or part time freelance work, in addition to holding a salaried job in design or another occupation.