If you tell someone outside of the design industry that you are a graphic designer, they will most likely have a fair idea of what you do. But tell them you are an artworker and they invariably look blankly at you! Some assume that you are a ‘failed’ designer – you didn’t get the grades or just don’t have the talent.
Thankfully within the industry there are still people who recognise that an artworker is a completely different role, with its own set of skills, and is not something you do when you can’t get a design job. So what exactly is the difference?
A designer comes up with the creative concept, often coming up with a few ideas based on a client’s brief. They then work up the chosen design – in the case of a brochure or door drop this may involve visualising the cover and maybe one or two spreads to give a feel for how the finished piece should look.
So what is an Artworker?
An artworker like me can then take this concept and work up the rest of the document. To do this we need to have a certain level of creative skill; although we may not be required to come up the ideas it is still important to have an eye for detail, layout and typography in order to implement the design in the way it was intended. In fact nowadays the role is often given the title of ‘Creative Artworker’ (although some designers still argue this point!).
The degree of input the artworker has varies considerably, depending on the point at which they are given the document to work on. At times we may just be given a finished job to check it is ready to print. This can involve anything from spell checking to checking the colours, bleed, consistencies etc.
My role as Senior Artworker for Chalk & Ward requires a level of technical knowledge of print, as well as indepth knowledge of all the creative software such as InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. Good photoshop skills are invaluable when you are presented with a lo-res image that’s been quickly manipulated and that you are then required to recreate as a hi res, realistic looking image! These days the role also requires web skills in order to work on a website or other digital media.
So what is the key role of an artworker? The ability to do the technical and more detailed parts of a job thereby, freeing up the designer to do what they do best… design.
Sarah Lawrence-Ball – Senior Artworker