Graphic designers’ work and skillset - What companies talk about in their job advertisements

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Doctoral thesis (article-based)
Degree programme
166 + app. 190
Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 131/2021
This doctoral thesis investigates the work and skillset of graphic designers as described by companies in their job advertisements. The literature on design suggests that the role of designers is changing and they are now making a more strategic contribution to organisations. In the case of graphic design, the literature describes the work and skillset of graphic designers as being traditionally connected to delivering visual outcomes, such as designing posters, and being knowledgeable about typography and visual composition. In addition to that, and parallel to the expansion of the role of designers in general, graphic designers also work and have skills in areas such as business, research and technology (e.g. coding). The broad work and skillset of graphic designers pose challenges to both educators and practitioners in being able to keep themselves up to date on graphic designers' work. The studies of this doctoral thesis unveil the work and skillset of graphic designers mentioned in job advertisements from the UK, Finland and Brazil. This doctoral thesis investigates the job market for graphic designers in these different countries and assesses the variations between geographical contexts and their distinct design cultures, economic and educational infrastructures, while also drawing attention to their similarities. The results of the studies show that the work and skillset of graphic designers are broader than often typified. Graphic designers mainly deliver digital and print work. To deliver this type of work, however, graphic designers need to have not only visual design skills, but also skills commonly associated with other fields, such as 'business, 'project management' and 'research'. Another result of the studies is that they shed light on how the skillset is described when graphic designers move (1) from junior to senior level positions, (2) from in-house departments to a design consultancy (or vice versa) and (3) from traditional to digital graphic design functions (or vice versa). Overall, the results of the reported studies suggest that job advertisements reflect the past while also guide future developments in the field. For design practitioners and educators, job advertisements provide a proxy for understanding the job market that can shape educational activities and self-development efforts. For design researchers, job advertisements provide information about the qualifications sought by companies in design professionals and also about how much (or little) organisations know about a profession. For example, an organisation that believes designers should code would present 'coding' as one of the requirements in an advertisement. This thesis then suggests that design researchers should take advantage of the availability and coverage provided by job advertisements for investigating professional developments.
Supervising professor
Julier, Guy, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Design, Finland
Thesis advisor
Person, Oscar, Assoc. Prof., Aalto University, Finland
graphic design, design recruitment, design adoption, design management, design education, job advertisements
Other note
  • Full text in Acris/Aaltodoc:
  • [Publication 2]: Dziobczenski, P.R.N., Person, O., and Meriläinen, S. 2018. “Designing Career Paths in Graphic Design: A Document Analysis of Job Advertisements for Graphic Design Positions in Finland.” The Design Journal. 21 (3): 349–70.
    DOI: 10.1080/14606925.2018.1444874 View at publisher
  • [Publication 3]: Dziobczenski, P.R.N., Person, O., Tonetto, L.M., and Mandelli, R.R. 2018. “Requests from Companies and Requirements for Design Education in Brazil: Where Do They Meet?” in C. Storni, K. Leahy, M. McMahon, P. Lloyd, & E. Bohemia (Eds.), Proceedings of DRS 2018: Catalyst (Vol. 7, pp. 2823-2835). (DRS International Conference Series). London: Design Research Society.
    Full text in Acris/Aaltodoc:
  • [Publication 4]: Dziobczenski, P.R.N., and Person, O. “The Job of Job Advertisements in Design Recruitment and Research.” In review process