What Does a Creative Designer Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover the different roles you can have as a creative designer, the desired education, and the steps you need to take to start in a career in the design field.

[Featured image] A female creative designer, wearing a white top, is working on her laptop and writing information in a notebook as she holds a pen.

A creative designer uses physical and digital tools to create unique product and marketing designs. Creative designers develop brochures, banners, business cards, social media ads, product packaging, and brand identity assets. Many creative designers work in the marketing and advertising industry and often create brand assets, such as:

  • Printed brochures

  • Online banners

  • Social media ads

  • Product packaging

  • Brand identity assets

In these roles, you will often collaborate with colleagues, clients, or a marketing team to generate artistic elements used to promote a brand and attract consumer attention. 

The role of a creative designer

As a creative designer, you’ll typically be producing art to promote a company or specific services and products. A ‘creative designer’ is an umbrella term that multiple creative professions across a variety of industries fall under, including fashion designers, photographers, artists, and graphic designers. As a creative designer, you must be able to do the following:

  • Take directions from the company 

  • Turn concepts into visuals

  • Communicate with clients

  • Implement feedback to create a final product

  • Brainstorm and implement your own unique ideas

  • Build upon others’ ideas

Is a graphic designer the same as a creative designer? 

A graphic designer is similar to a creative designer, but it's just one job that falls under this category. Whilst graphic designer and creative designer are sometimes used interchangeably, they aren’t the same. 

A creative designer is a broad term that describes designers who work with a variety of different mediums in several different industries, including but not limited to graphic design. As a graphic designer, you are responsible for creating physical or digital visuals to communicate a specific idea. In a creative designer role, you won’t just be tasked with just creating visuals but often also the ideas, concepts, and innovations of it.  



What are the duties and responsibilities of a creative designer?

A creative designer spends a lot of time generating artistic concepts, but there are additional responsibilities that coincide with this job. You’ll work directly with clients, create visual assets, and often collaborate with other creatives to finish a project. 

More specifically, the daily duties of a creative designer include: 

  • Interacting with clients to understand their campaigns, goals, and desired deliverables

  • Generating design quotes 

  • Turning a client’s ideas into a comprehensive creative brief

  • Thinking creatively to generate visuals that connect with an audience

  • Conducting market research

  • Working with different mediums and identifying the best option for each project

  • Using computer-aided design (CAD) and software like InDesign to generate visuals

  • Working on layouts and the overall presentation of a campaign

  • Coordinating with other creatives like artists or photographers for necessary elements

  • Presenting drafts to the client and making requested updates to the design

  • Providing files to necessary vendors like a printer or web designer

What skills do you need to become a creative designer?

You may need to develop several technical and workplace skills for a successful career as a creative designer. Technical skills are skills that are teachable and quantifiable, such as understanding design principles and layout. Meanwhile, workplace skills are learned from experience, such as strong communication and project management skills. 

Requirements vary amongst employers and industries. In general, if you want to become a creative designer, the following technical and workplace skills are helpful: 

Technical skills

  • Design principles: As a creative designer, you’ll need to know how to bring elements together, like colour, imagery, and text, to convey a message. 

  • Ideation: You’ll generate and develop new ideas that align with the client’s needs.

  • Branding: You need to understand key components that make a brand and how they work together to communicate with an intended audience.

  • Designing for different media: You should be familiar with techniques and materials for designing digital and print media.

  • UX: You’ll likely need base knowledge behind a “user experience” that impacts a visitor’s time spent on a website.  

  • Design software: Many creative designers use Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. 

Workplace skills

  • Creativity: As a designer, you may need strong creative skills and a desire to produce attention-grabbing, effective visuals with regularity.

  • Communication: From client meetings to coordinating photoshoots, a creative designer may have to communicate with a variety of different people. Additionally, you must be able to use designs to convey the intended message. 

  • Project management: You will likely be working on multiple projects at one time, so you’ll need to manage each one accordingly. Some companies use project management software too, like Monday.com or Asana. 

  • Problem-solving: You may need to troubleshoot challenges. When a client isn’t pleased with a design or a photographer misses a deadline to provide assets, you’ll need to manage these issues and find quick solutions.

Where do creative designers work?

Creative designers can work in a variety of different industries. Some are self-employed and provide freelance creative design services, others work directly for an organisation or agency.

Many businesses, no matter their location or product, need creative design. Whether the creative designer is responsible for working on the company’s brand or directly on a product, this career has many different paths. Some common industries you may work in as a creative designer include:

  • Design service agencies

  • Consulting services

  • Advertising

  • Cosmetics companies

  • Motion pictures and videos 

  • Public relations

  • Print marketing 

  • Colleges and universities

Examples of creative roles

When you search for a position as a creative designer, you’ll likely find a variety of job titles since it’s a broad term. Job titles are more specific, each requiring a slightly different skill set. Examples of job titles that fall under creative designer include: 

Graphic designer

A graphic designer is a visual communicator who turns an idea into a visual concept. 

Common tasks:

  • Creating artwork for ads

  • Designing and creating a layout for a magazine

  • Crafting a direct mail campaign 

  • Producing digital pieces for websites 

Multimedia designer

As a multimedia designer, you will use art, sound, and design to create animations or videos. Multimedia designers often work in TV, film, set design, or animation.

Common tasks:

  • Designing and producing multimedia content 

  • Collaborating with marketing and public relations (PR) teams 

  • Knowing how to use design Adobe tools

Web designer

In this role, you’ll focus on the website visitor’s experience. Web designers could work for a company or work as a freelancer, creating sites for multiple companies. 

Common tasks:

  • Producing sample websites

  • Researching, brainstorming, and testing websites

  • Designing graphics, sites, and logos 

T-shirt designer

As a T-shirt designer, you will create specific ideas for shirts. T-shirt designers might work for a clothing company or offer their skills to companies as a freelancer.

Common tasks:

  • Creating and preparing mockups for t-shirt designs

  • Creating visual designs that will be printed like brochures, labels, and marketing products

  • Collaborating and brainstorming amongst a creative team

Creative artworker

In this role, you’ll be a go-between among creatives and clients. As a creative artworker, you might take a design from a graphic designer and fit it to a specific product package. 

Common tasks:

  • Finalising designs and putting them on the final product

  • Fixing or improving designs

  • Managing and updating an organisation’s image catalog 

  • Being knowledgeable of current design trends

Brand designer 

In this role, you'll contribute to creating the visuals associated with a brand, that help build brand identity. As a brand designer, you’ll likely work on or create anything that falls under the brand’s aesthetics, including the logo, brand colours, typography, and more. 

Common tasks: 

  • Ensuring creative material aligms with a company’s brand

  • Creating icons, charts, and infographics

  • Designing and creating logos, brandbooks, and icons

What education level is required to become a creative designer?

For most entry-level design jobs, a bachelor’s degree isn’t always necessary. Some employers accept graduates of technical schools and online programmes. However, having a college degree may help you start a portfolio to show potential employers and to build foundational design skills. 

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What do you need to study to work as a creative designer?

To become a creative designer, you should learn Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and other Adobe tools. Knowledge of HTML and other IT skills are also beneficial for working in the design field.

You can also go into this field with a degree in multimedia, animation, visual communication, and graphics and communication design. Since many graphic designers work in these industries, employers see the value of these skills combined with artistry. If you have a degree in a different field, completing a training programme in design can help you hone the necessary skills.

How much do creative designers earn?

A creative designer’s salary depends on a variety of factors, including the industry you work in and your geographic area. The monthly salaries for creative designers in India vary, for example: 

  • Graphic designer: ₹25,000 [1]

  • Digital designer: ₹62,500 [2]

  • Web developer: ₹22,000 [3]

  • Multimedia designer: ₹22,745 [4]

Is there good career progression for creative designers?

A creative designer usually starts in an entry-level position such as an assistant designer. After gaining experience, you may move up to a mid-level one, followed by a senior-level role such as senior designer before becoming a creative director. As a creative director, you oversee a small team of artists, designers, and other creatives within a company. The director level is usually the highest rank available for creative designers. 

Designers may also opt to freelance. A designer might work for a company for a few years to build a portfolio and then start their own design business. For salaried designers, freelancers tend to migrate towards a speciality, like print design, graphic design, or website design.


Next steps

Start building job-ready design skills to start your career as a creative designer. Consider taking online courses on Coursera, like the Google UX Design Professional Certificate. Prepare for an entry-level role in graphic and creative design in as little as six months. A Professional Certificate could show employers that you have learned the skills necessary to perform the job.

Article sources


Glassdoor. "Graphic Designer Salaries in India, https://www.glassdoor.co.in/Salaries/india-graphic-designer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,5_IN115_KO6,22.htm?clickSource=searchBtn." Accessed February 15, 2023.

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