“Designers are a nightmare to survey…”

Despite a number of “creative and grouchy” responses, the newly published GraphicDesign& survey of graphic designers gives some intriguing insights into the profession.


Are you a UK graphic designer? If so, the chances are you’re a white male in your 20s earning £28,000.

There’s also a good chance that you voted Labour or Lib Dem in the last general election, you believe in the value of hard work over talent – and your favourite colour is orange.

These are just some of the conclusions that can be drawn from the Graphic Designers Surveyed research, which was carried out by publishing house GraphicDesign&.

“Graphic designers are largely unknown to themselves”

The research saw 1,988 graphic designers in the UK and the US questioned last year on subjects including their education, careers and opinions.

The research has now been brought together in a book, designed by LucienneRoberts+ and with data visualisation by Stefanie Posavec and commentary by social scientist Nikandre Kopcke.

In her introduction, Kopcke outlines some of the challenges around the research. “Graphic designers are largely unknown to themselves”, she says. “Few studies have looked at graphic designers and there is very little concrete data about how they live and work.”


She adds: “I can tell you a few things right off the bat. Designers are a nightmare to survey. They frequently disregard instructions and give answers that can best be described, fittingly, as creative.

“Male designers tend to be both creative and grouchy. And almost everyone has a bone to pick with clients.”

Despite these difficulties, the Graphic Designers Surveyed research brings together a wide range of information about working designers.

Who they are and how much they earn

In the UK, graphic designers are more likely to be male – although the gender split is quite close, at 54% male to 46% female.

Graphic designers are likely to be young – 57% of those surveyed were in their 20s, while just 5% were aged over 50. They are also very likely to be white – 85% of respondents gave this as their ethnic group.

In the UK, the mean average salary for graphic designers is £28,000 a year, while in the US the average is slightly higher, at $47,230 (£32,796).


The survey also looked at attitudes towards work and work/life balance.

The majority of graphic designers (69.8%) said they get bored by their work at times. Just over 40% of respondents said that hard work was the key to advancing your career in graphic design, while just 18% thought it was talent (and 28% thought it was “who you know”.)

Most graphics designers (63%) said they were “obsessed” by the subject, while 83% said they would recommend it as a career choice.


However, graphic designers who were married or cohabiting earned less, on average, than their partners and worked longer hours. And while 67% said they were satisfied with their lives, just 55% said they were satisfied with their careers.

Designers in the UK predominantly voted for Labour or Lib Dem in the last General Election (35% each) while 77% of US designers voted Democrat.

The designers were also asked what their favourite Pantone colour is. Posavec says: “This question was meant to be a bit light-hearted, so it was quite funny to see how many slightly grumpy, sarcastic responses we received in reply.” The colour that eventually came out on top was Pantone Orange 021 – used on the cover of the Graphic Designers Survey book.



Graphic Designers Surveyed is published by GraphicDesign& priced at £15. It is available at www.graphicdesignand.com.

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