7+ Types of Graphic Design You Should Know About

With more and more work shifting to the digital world, freelancers are needing to expand their “toolkit” to give themselves a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

One set of skills that all freelancers should be proficient in is the seven different types of graphic design:

  • Advertising
  • Packaging
  • Brand Identity
  • User Interface (UI)
  • Publication
  • Animation
  • Illustration

Graphic design is key to every part of the digital world. It is important to stay relevant and understand the latest trends so you can advance your career and get more clients as a freelancer.

Here are the seven graphic design types you need to know about as a freelancer to give you the best chance of winning more work.

Ready? Let’s dive in! 

1. Advertising & Marketing Design

Advertising and marketing materials are probably the most common form of graphic design. It is essential to stay “up to date” trends in this area of graphic design.

Advertising and marketing design includes creatives like:

  • Banner ads
  • Print ads
  • Social media profiles & headers

If you have the ability to listen to your clients and effectively convey their messaging in your graphic design work (which can be enhanced with a platform such as ReviewStudio), you will be certain to have a steady stream of work for years to come.

Advertising isn’t going away and companies usually have varying campaigns depending on the time of year. 

While creating these types of designs, you will often be required to collaborate with ownership, management, and marketing teams.

It is important to tap into their goals and deliver what they have in mind with an adequate visual representation.

2. Packaging Design

If you have ever scanned the pages of Behance.net, you no doubt would have come across some amazing graphic design pieces for the packaging of various products. Designing packaging is an essential skill for graphic designers, especially if you’re wanting to work with direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses. 

Effective, exciting, innovative packaging that seamlessly incorporates brand identity design has the ability to speak directly to a company’s customers. Your ability to deliver excellent packaging mock-ups along with “print-ready” design files will set you apart.

Knowledge of the manufacturing process and the process of producing packaging also can assist you with delivering packaging graphic design that meets the needs of your clients.

3. Brand Identity Design

Developing a brand’s identity in the form of a personalized logo, color schemes, and font families can be one of the most important skills a graphic designer can possess.

What other thing is more important to a company than their logo or visual identity?

These designs are the first things that a customer will see which means brand identity designs are a very important part of any company because it “sets the tone” for all of their products and services.

Your ability to work with a company’s leadership team to develop logos, images, and brand guidelines, and other important visual identity assets is essential in today’s marketplace.

Leadership can have conflicting desires so be sure to carefully listen to key stakeholders during early stages of the branding process to incorporate as many elements as possible.

4. User Interface (UI) Design

Every device and/or application has a user interface. This often consists of the graphical layout, icons, menus, and other design elements of any given device or application running on a device.

A freelancer that is an amazing UI designer will undoubtedly be in high demand for years to come.

It is your job to be certain that both functionality and aesthetic visual appeal are taken into account when creating an effective User Interface design.

Whether it is a desktop app, mobile app, or web application, UI designers that can work well with UX (user experience) designers to deliver an amazing product are very important.

5. Publication Design

Whether it’s a digital PDF case study (designers nowadays should know how to write a case study) or a printed publication – graphic designers who are able to effectively design the layouts for brochures, magazines, and similar works are always in high demand.

“Publication” graphic design is not just limited to print. It also includes “digital publishing.”

Digital publishing graphic design work consists of creating layouts with appropriate artwork and typography in ebook creation tools, online course platforms, marketing newsletters, and more. 

You must be able to effectively communicate with editors and publishers in order to be a successful publication graphic designer.

6. Animation Graphic Design

If you are able to design graphics that include animation, moving typography, moving imagery, or video graphical elements – you can call yourself an animation designer.

This used to be an area that was limited to movies, film, or television. However, with the advent of the internet, animations are quite literally everywhere.

Clients definitely need adequate graphic designers who are able to produce artwork that is used in “moving” formats all over digital platforms.

This gives you plenty of opportunities to do amazing graphic design work if you are well-versed in this craft.

These can include graphical elements for promo videos, websites, apps, video games, trailers, animated logos, and more.

7. Illustration Design

Designers who can create illustrations are always in high demand.

Illustrations can appear on many mediums including t-shirts, video games, comic books, album art, book covers, online course platforms, infographics, and more.

That means illustrations are an important, revenue-viable aspect of graphic design.

If you are a talented illustrator, you should figure out how to translate that into a digital formats. When you can do that, you can effectively show potential clients the full capacity of your skills.

Generally, becoming familiar with tools like Adobe Illustrator (now a part of Adobe Creative Cloud), and similar tools, can enhance your skill-set and enable you to get your work online.


As a freelancer, it’s important to be flexible and remain aware of changing marketing trends which may change preference for different types of graphic design depending on what’s in style.

One year, we may see a shift in identity design and the other, we may see a preference for illustration design. 

Regardless of what’s “in,” being proficient with these seven types of graphic design skills will ensure you’re competitive in the industry and have a steady stream of freelance work for years to come.

Cody J. Murphy

Cody J. Murphy is an Internet entrepreneur who has been growing businesses of all sizes over the past 10 years, most recently working on the M&A team at a large technology firm. Now, he’s sharing his insight and business acumen with the world at Visual Oak, a marketing resource that helps businesses and startups navigate the digital world.