Business Overview

Graphic design professionals create or maintain a visual look that might be carried out in signage, letterheads, ads, sales collateral material, website and digital content and virtually all other internal and external communications. This can involve logo design, fonts and typography, color and imagery selection and layout. The owner of a graphic design studio might work alone or have one or more employees to generate new business, work on existing projects and support the enterprise.

Who is this business right for?

Ownership of a graphic design studio is ideal for artistically minded people who are adept at managing the aesthetics of the way their business and organizational clients address their various markets, communicating creative ideas and executing design decisions independently or through employees or vendors.

You should be able to work alone and in a collaborative environment as you grow or work alongside clients. And you must feel confident in both worlds—business and creative expression—because your work will span both.

What happens during a typical day at a graphic design business?

Here’s how your day might typically be spent:

  • Developing new business on the phone or at business networking or social events
  • Connecting with photographers, illustrators, freelance graphic designers and others with whom you might collaborate now or in the future
  • Executing projects for clients
  • Supervising the creative work of employees or freelancers
  • Handling the day-to-day responsibilities associated with running a business, such as billing clients and paying bills

What is the target market?

Some graphic design studios get the bulk of their work from advertising agencies while others promote their services directly to clients. Many work for both client types. Some studios might specialize in a certain type of client, such as non-profit organizations or business-to-business firms. Others might focus on a particular practice, such as logo development or packaging design.

How does a graphic design business make money?

Graphic design studio owners charge their clients an hourly rate or bill by a flat fee based on their hourly rate. If there are ongoing assignments they might negotiate a monthly retainer.

What is the growth potential for a graphic design business?

Many studios are sole proprietors or small partnerships. They operate on their own, hiring project help when needed. However, there’s virtually no limit to growth potential except your sales success. You can hire talent and support staff as your reputation and your business grow. The largest are multinational firms with offices in major cities across the world and rosters of Fortune 500 brands.