Wikipedia has this to say about Graphic Design:
"A graphic designer is a professional within the graphic design and graphic arts industry who assembles together images, typography or motion graphics to create a piece of design. A graphic designer creates the graphics primarily for published, printed or electronic media, such as brochures (sometimes) and advertising. They are also sometimes responsible for typesetting, illustration, user interfaces, web design, or may take a teaching position. A core responsibility of the designer's job is to present information in a way that is both accessible and memorable".
Graphics are needed for nearly all marketing purposes and are being created by designers all over the world for this reason.
The whole point of graphic design is to communicate a message or to support the communication of a message in a way that the message is enhanced.
Graphic Designers are not artists in the sense that an artist creates for aesthetic reasons so their work can be enjoyed for colour and form and a host of other reasons that have nothing to do with commerce; graphic designers are communicators who use a visual medium.
Graphic design can be further broken down into areas of expertise, with some designers having more experience with magazine or newspaper layout, advertisement design and typesetting than with creating billboard designs or cartoon characters, for example.
Some people confuse graphic design with desktop publishing, but there is a difference between the two.
About.com sums the difference up in this way:
Graphic design jobs involve the creative process of coming up with the concepts and ideas and arrangements for visually communicating a specific message. Graphic design is the process and art of combining text and graphics and communicating an effective message in the design of logos, graphics, brochures, newsletters, posters, signs, and any other type of visual communication.
Desktop publishing is the mechanical process that the designer and the non-designer use to turn their ideas for newsletters, brochures, ads, posters, greeting cards, and other projects into digital files for desktop or commercial printing. Desktop publishing is the process of using the computer and specific types of software to combine text and graphics to produce documents such as newsletters, brochures, books, etc.
Graphic designers may use desktop publishing software for the creation of their work, but it is their creativity and flair for design which separates them from the desktop publisher.
Not everyone who does desktop publishing does graphic design, but most graphic designers are involved in desktop publishing - the production side of design. The term desktop publisher can refer to a designer or a non-designer but it often carries negative connotations of an amateur.
Some graphic designers are quite vocal about their distaste for desktop publishing, which is somewhat amusing since much of what they do does involve desktop publishing. What they are really upset about is not desktop publishing itself - it's an invaluable part of the entire graphic design process - but rather the misuse (real or perceived) of desktop publishing software by non-designers.
Source: Jacci Howard Bear, About.com Desktop Publishing Guide
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