Career Resources

Graphic Arts and Design


Graphic Arts and Design Overview

Design hybridizes artistry with technical skill, as designers combine artistic elements such as form, color and texture in order to create products that appeal to the target audiences of their clients. Like the fine arts, design can be seen virtually everywhere, from the cover of magazines at the newsstand (graphic design) to the interfaces of the webpages which you visit on a daily basis (web design) to the distinctive aesthetic styles of homes and businesses (interior and lighting design). As such, the diversity of opportunities available in the design industry is enormous, and each position varies in its day-to-day duties. Careers in design all require creative vision, and designers can all gain the ability to make a stable, sustainable living based upon the products they create for the clients they serve.

Career Paths

Design careers span drastically different branches, as shown below:

  • Animation – Animators develop special effects for the various branches of the entertainment industry, from film to video games. Animators must both have artistic skill and kinesthetic knowledge in order to give their works a sense of reality. They might be expected to employ a variety of mediums, either physical or digital, to develop their images. While demonstrated talent is often enough to secure a job in animation, many animators possess arts degrees.
  • Industrial Design – Industrial designers meld art and science in order to develop beautiful, useful products for mass market sale. Think of Apple products – iPods and Macbooks exemplify clean, ergonomic industrial design. Industrial design can incorporate elements of engineering, as designers seek to develop attractive yet functional goods, but industrial designers focus primarily on developing feasible user interfaces in order to draw customers to their products. Industrial designers can obtain a variety of degrees, including a Master of Fine Arts or a Master of Science, to expand their career-related knowledge.
  • Interior Design – Interior designers ensure that buildings’ interiors are both safe and beautiful. They must be as well versed in the most recent fire code clauses as in the latest upholstery and lighting trends.  Interior designers need not study interior design at the undergraduate level, as master’s degrees in interior design are available. Passing a state-regulated exam is required in order to legally practice as an interior designer.
  • Visual Design and Production – Production designers oversee the aesthetic of a movie or show to ensure that it remains cohesive throughout the entire production process. This requires close collaboration with colleagues, including the project’s director, producer and director of photography. Production designers for movies can even earn Academy Awards for their work!
  • Web Design – Web designers work with both the technical and graphic elements of a website, coding to produce a visually appealing interface. As such, web designers must have a versatile skill set, as technical and interpersonal knowledge, along with creativity, are all necessary in order to attain success. Web designers often have a background in web programming or in coding.

CCE Resources

  • LionSHARE: Search for internships and jobs on LionSHARE in the creative realm. The site also maintains a list of companies involved in design that have posted previously at Columbia.
  • Vault and WetFeet Guides: CCE subscribes to career-focused web services such as Vault and WetFeet, which offer profiles of industries, companies, and careers- the Vault Guides to Industrial Design and Web Design are both relevant.

Columbia Resources

  • Columbia offers organizations through which designers can refine their skills including The Barnard-Columbia chapter of Design for America.

External Resources

Professional Associations


Industrial Design

Interior Design

Web Design

Job Boards

Last updated December 2014