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:
- 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.
- A publisher – although they design and lay out books and manuals, they don’t distribute or sell them on behalf of the author.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- A social media agency – although graphic design agencies design social media banners (FB, websites, Twitter), they don’t maintain clients’ social media platforms.
- A photographic agency – they commission photographers, mostly on a freelance basis, to provide visuals for graphic design projects they are commissioned to design.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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