10 things a graphic design agency is not




Sometimes, when a definition is broad, it is better to define it by what it is not, rather than by what it is. In artistic terms, it is like discovering what a drawing is all about after colouring in the negative space around it. 

So here goes. A graphic design agency is not:

  1. An advertising agency – although graphic design agencies do design adverts for magazines and newspapers, they don’t, as a rule, come up with slogans or ad campaigns and they don’t place them in the media and track their progress.
  2. A publisher – although they design and lay out books and manuals, they don’t distribute or sell them on behalf of the author. 
  3. A marketing company – they don’t promote or sell other people’s businesses, rather they design the media for their clients’ marketing purposes at their discretion.
  4. A PR company – graphic design agencies don’t deal with the public on their client’s behalf. They do, however, produce corporate gifts and promotional material for PR practitioners to use in their PR campaigns.
  5. A printer – they outsource their clients’ printing needs to proper printers who have massive printing machines on their premises. Sometimes printers employ graphic designers (just to complicate the issue).
  6. A social media agency – although graphic design agencies design social media banners (FB, websites, Twitter), they don’t maintain clients’ social media platforms.
  7. A photographic agency – they commission photographers, mostly on a freelance basis, to provide visuals for graphic design projects they are commissioned to design. 
  8. A fine art collaborative – it is not where artists hang out, workshop their skills or sell their wares. Graphic design agencies do sometimes make use of artists’ pieces to enhance media they are designing, however.
  9. A copy shop – they only make copies of what they design for clients and use their high-end copy machines to provide clients with proofs.
  10. A non-profit – like any other business, graphic design agencies are in the business to make a living. 

There you have it! Hopefully, the blank spots around your understanding have been coloured in sufficiently for you to be able to define what a graphic design agency is and does.


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By Gaylene Jablonkay, Managing Editor

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