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What is production work in the graphic design or design career field?

I want to know what production work is is in graphic design, because I am studying digital media at my college. #graphic-design

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Allen’s Answer

Hi Justin,


Some words of wisdom born of experience: If you wish to become a professional designer or art director, beware getting trapped as a production artist. I left design school early thinking I knew what I needed to know to get a job. Then, I moved to San Francisco and did not have the connections I had in NYC to get a job. So, I took some work as a production artist at ad agencies thinking this would help me get my foot in the door on my way to becoming an art director. What I found out is, art directors and creative directors don't look to their production artists for the next art director. It's worse if your a good production artist because they want you to keep supporting their work. I ended going to portfolio school and finishing my design degree to get to be designer/art director. My recommendation is do the best you can while in school and make sure to put together a great portfolio site.

Thank you comment icon Thank you for the great advice. Justin
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Mohamed’s Answer

A production artist is someone who isn't necessarily making the major design decisions but is, instead, working under the supervision of a designer or art director putting together materials under his or her direction.


For example, a magazine might have an art/design director who is in charge of the design of the magazine, but might have production artists putting together the boiler plate pages based on the style guide that the art director created. This frees up the art director to concentrate on those pages needing a designer's touch.


You'll find much the same thing in agencies where there are creative directors, art directors and senior designers. The production artists, essentially, do the mundane grunt work while the designers spend their time on those things that require design decisions.

Thank you comment icon Thank you for the great advice. Justin
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Alan’s Answer

Hi Justin,


In very general terms you could think of the separation as design being the thinking behind a project and production being the doing or the execution of a project. A production artist is going to spend just about all their time in graphics software cranking things out. Some like the grind of cranking out work while others prefer making the decisions behind the work.

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Cuong’s Answer

It depends which area you want to work in graphic design. Usually, people who are starting out a design career would start as an associate graphic designer or graphic designer assistant. And yes, there are also different aspects in each design job wise. If you want to work on solely on production art, it's very different than being a graphic designer, you basically worked and report under your supervisor in both. But as a graphic designer, you have the potential on moving up.


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