National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2016 Version 1.3


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5241 - Graphic designers and illustrators

Graphic designers conceptualize and produce graphic art and visual materials to effectively communicate information for publications, advertising, films, packaging, posters, signs and interactive media such as Web sites and CDs. This unit group also includes graphic designers who are supervisors, project managers or consultants. They are employed by advertising and graphic design firms, by establishments with advertising or communications departments and by multimedia production companies, or they may be self-employed. Illustrators conceptualize and create illustrations to represent information through images. They are almost solely self-employed.

  • Illustrative example(s)

    • 3D animation artist
    • advertising designer
    • animator - animated films
    • bank note designer
    • cartoonist
    • commercial artist
    • graphic artist
    • graphic designer
    • graphic designer - multimedia
    • illustrator
    • layout designer
    • medical illustrator
    • multimedia illustrator
    • scientific illustrator

    All examples

  • Exclusion(s)

    • Advertising managers (See 0124 Advertising, marketing and public relations managers)
    • Graphic arts technicians (See 5223 Graphic arts technicians)
    • Interior designers and interior decorators (See 5242 Interior designers and interior decorators)
    • Painters, sculptors and other visual artists (See 5136 Painters, sculptors and other visual artists)
  • Main duties

    This group performs some or all of the following duties:

    Graphic designers

    • Consult with clients to establish the overall look, graphic elements and content of communications materials in order to meet their needs
    • Determine the medium best suited to produce the desired visual effect and the most appropriate vehicle for communication
    • Develop the graphic elements that meet the clients' objectives
    • Prepare sketches, layouts and graphic elements of the subjects to be rendered using traditional tools, multimedia software and image processing, layout and design software
    • Estimate cost of materials and time to complete graphic design
    • Use existing photo and illustration banks and typography guides or hire an illustrator or photographer to produce images that meet clients' communications needs
    • Establish guidelines for illustrators or photographers
    • Co-ordinate all aspects of production for print, audio-visual or electronic materials, such as Web sites, CDs and interactive terminals
    • Co-ordinate sub-contracting
    • Work in a multidisciplinary environment
    • Supervise other graphic designers or graphic arts technicians.


    • Consult with clients to determine the nature and content of illustrations in order to meet their communications needs
    • Develop and produce realistic or representational sketches and final illustrations, by hand or using computer-assisted design (CAD) software, for printed materials such as books, magazines, packaging, greeting cards and stationery
    • Assist in developing storyboards for electronic productions such as multimedia, interactive and digital products and television advertising and productions
    • Produce 2-D and 3-D animated drawings or computer illustrations
    • May adapt existing illustrations.

    Illustrators may specialize in a particular field such as illustrations for children, advertising, editorials, humour, or medical, scientific or technical illustration, or multimedia design.

  • Employment requirements

    • A university degree in visual arts with specialization in graphic design, commercial art, graphic communications or cartooning
      Completion of a college diploma program in graphic arts is required.
    • Experience or training in multimedia design at a post-secondary, college or technical institution may be required.
    • In addition to the arts, training in biology, engineering, architecture or a scientific field is usually required for medical, technical and scientific illustrators.
    • Creative ability and artistic talent, as demonstrated by a portfolio of work, are required for graphic designers and illustrators.
  • Additional information

    • Progression to management or senior design positions is possible with experience.
    • The title "registered graphic designer" is recognized by law in Ontario.
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