CEOs, CTOs, product managers, and project managers at top companies, small businesses and startups work with Toptal graphic design freelancers to augment their design teams for app design, website design, and other design projects to find the best talent and achieve their business objectives.
Jake is an award-winning designer who uses storytelling, art, and technology to instigate positive social change and build stronger businesses. He's worked with a range of Fortune500 companies, major nonprofits, government agencies, and startups. Over the last ten years, Jake's work has helped these companies change their public image, reach broader audiences, and impact more lives. He'd love to collaborate with you on your next big challenge.
Jackie is a passionate designer with over 15 years of experience in branding. He is a dedicated creative thinker with a strong ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously in fast-paced environments. Jackie specializes in brand identities, illustration, and graphic design, always striving to learn more.
Mike is a highly experienced and successful product, UX, UI, visual, and branding designer with many years of experience creating large and small-scale designs. He has worked for global clients in many industries, including ExxonMobil, Reebok, Taco Bell, Nike, and many others. Mike has also provided his design and leadership experience to startups in healthcare, higher education, and SaaS companies.
Miki is a multidisciplinary designer with a focus on typography, clarity, and efficiency. His services include branding, print, and digital design. As a former art director at Saatchi & Saatchi, he has worked on big brands such as Volkswagen, T-Mobile, Microsoft, Cisco, and Nestle and learned to combine business with visual thinking. Self-taught, passionate, and a perfectionist, Miki loves purity, simplicity, and beauty.
With years of experience in design and advertising, Steve is an art director and designer at Rethink, the number two independent advertising in the world. He freelances for companies worldwide as a visual and UI/UX designer on websites, web apps, and mobile apps. Steve has had the pleasure of working for advertising agencies such as DDB, Tribal Worldwide, Grand Creative, Colenso BBDO, and many others. He communicates exceptionally well with his clients and has worked in teams of all sizes.
Dario is a seasoned professional in the field of creativity and design. During the last 10 years, he has been working with clients worldwide, ranging from professionals to major organizations. Dario collaborates with businesses that like creative experimentation and stunning design and are willing to stand out from the competition. His background in coaching and education helps him to understand the client's real needs completely.
With over 15 years of experience in design, Korana's work spans a number of UX, UI, and graphic design projects. She's worked for Adidas, Pacific Disaster Centre, Transperfect, and Noteworth and is a co-founder of Zingword.com, a startup translation marketplace. Korana enjoys UX challenges and uses custom illustrations to give character to her designs. In her spare time, she does stop-motion animation.
Nemanja is a UI/UX specialist with more than ten years of industry experience who focuses on usability, user experience, and user research in his designs. He has worked with small and large teams, including teams from Google and Red Hat. Nemanja has worked as a freelancer and enjoys the challenge of solving user problems.
Alex has worked with some of the biggest brands on the planet, including Nike, Converse, Heineken, Vogue, and CoStar Group. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Wired, and Communications Arts. With a hefty number of awards, 15 years of experience, and the philosophy of practicing what he preaches, Alex is known for his minimal and timeless designs. He thrives when working with bold brands and has a deep appreciation and understanding of the impact that great design can have.
Bushra is a creative UI/UX designer focusing on companies in the enterprise network and wellness sectors. She enjoys pushing her abilities and viewpoints to simultaneously effect this transformation and acquire new knowledge. Bushra's experience with design spans the board and includes hands-on branding, user research, rebuilding websites, product design, responsive applications, and marketing.
Graphic designers are experts at creating visual artwork that communicates meaning and engages users. This guide to hiring graphic designers features an overview of relevant skills, job description tips, and interview questions and answers to help you identify the best candidates for your company.
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Despite accelerating demand for coders, Toptal prides itself on almost Ivy League-level vetting.
Creating an app for the game
Building a cross-platform app to be used worldwide
Leading a digital transformation
Drilling into real-time data creates an industry game changer
What our clients think
Clients Rate Toptal Graphic Designers4.4 / 5.0on average across 352 reviews as of Dec 9, 2023
Michael is an incredible designer, and has been a great fit for our project. He just gets it in a way that can’t be taught. My goal was to pay Toptal to find me a high quality designer for my project, and that is exactly what happened. It was easy. Being able to see the portfolio work on Toptal’s platform is what gave me the infomation I needed to choose Michael. I have nothing but good things to say about Toptal and am looking forward to using Toptal for other projects in the future.
Edward Daniel, Co-Founder
I've worked very closely with Martina for over a year and have to say she is one of the best people I have ever worked with. Instead of simply following instructions blindly, she thinks through the task at hand, becoming a thought partner to help with whatever the project may be. Besides being super talented at design, she possesses specific qualities that make her exceptional to work with given the fast paced nature of being a startup. I would definitely recommend her to anyone looking for a talented, professional designer who doesn't need much direction to hit the ground running.
Sahil Khanna, Sr. Manager, Marketing
Darko did a great job figuring out the user architecture for our concept, which led him to produce terrific wireframes. His knowledge of usability and design was a perfect match for the outside voice we needed to help jumpstart our project. We would certainly recommend him and work with him again in the future.
Rich Danker, Founder
Carlos has the unique talent of blending both quantitative and qualitative research to keenly identify UX challenges and opportunities. He thinks methodically, emphatically, and holistically to produce data-driven strategies and well-executed designs. Over the past 8 years of working with fully or partially distributed teams, Carlos manages working remotely far better than anyone I've encountered because of his strong communication and presentation skills. He is the first on my list the next time I need a UX designer.
Michelle Krogmeier, Project Manager
Rafael is an amazing designer. His aesthetic sense is spot on, and he seems to be able to anticipate our needs before we even know what they are. He's taken the time to understand both our company and our clientele, and his solutions are consistently in-line with our values, interests, and our customers' needs. He delivers on time (if not earlier), works quickly, is well organized, and very effective. He's a pleasure to work with, and we're very happy to have found him through Toptal.
Ethan Brooks, CTO
Langlotz Patent & Trademark Works, Inc.
Toptal gave us access to the best designers out there. They’re not easy to find. Those designers integrated very quickly with our existing teams. They very quickly understood our business case and the value of our solution. Toptal really allowed us to focus on building the best possible product and save a lot of time on the typical administrative pains that goes with it -- specifically, finding the best talent. Toptal designers were very responsive, always online -- and that made life very easy for us. We have ambitious goals on how to grow the application and already Toptal has been a key contributor to that success.
Thierry Jakircevic, General Manager, Digital Solutions, Bridgestone Head Office, Tokyo
We had an amazing experience working with our Toptal designer. In only two weeks, we accomplished what would've taken most companies 3 months to complete. We also enjoyed working with the Toptal team to make sure we were paired up with the right designer that would fit both our company culture and working style.
Ted Blosser, Head of Sales and Customer Success
Dean blew us away. He ranks right up there as one of the top five designers of the hundreds I have worked with in the past. He listened, was totally professional, and came up with a 3D rotating cube design completely on his own. We didn't even ask for it, and yet it has become the centerpiece of our app and how users engage with it right off the bat. What he produced inspired all of us at Votify, and put us on track for launch and investor funding.
Michael Lawrence, Founder & CEO
How to Hire Graphic Designers through Toptal
Talk to One of Our Industry Experts
A Toptal director of design will work with you to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics.
Work With Hand-Selected Talent
Within days, we'll introduce you to the right graphic designer for your project. Average time to match is under 24 hours.
The Right Fit, Guaranteed
Work with your new graphic designer for a trial period (pay only if satisfied), ensuring they're the right fit before starting the engagement.
Find Experts With Related Skills
Access a vast pool of skilled designers in our talent network and hire the top 3% within just 48 hours.
At Toptal, we thoroughly screen our graphic designers to ensure we only match you with talent of the highest caliber. Of the more than 100,000 people who apply to join the Toptal network each year, fewer than 3% make the cut. You’ll work with design experts (never generalized recruiters or HR reps) to understand your goals, technical needs, and team dynamics. The end result: expert vetted talent from our network, custom matched to fit your business needs.
Can I hire graphic designers in less than 48 hours through Toptal?
Depending on availability and how fast you can progress, you could start working with a graphic designer within 48 hours of signing up.
What is the no-risk trial period for Toptal graphic designers?
We make sure that each engagement between you and your graphic designer begins with a trial period of up to two weeks. This means that you have time to confirm the engagement will be successful. If you’re completely satisfied with the results, we’ll bill you for the time and continue the engagement for as long as you’d like. If you’re not completely satisfied, you won’t be billed. From there, we can either part ways, or we can provide you with another expert who may be a better fit and with whom we will begin a second, no-risk trial.
What type of talent does Toptal have?
Our platform hosts a diverse group of skill sets, experiences, and backgrounds. Our freelancers range from software engineers, design professionals, project management experts, and product managers to finance experts who have worked at leading companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and many more.
Our designers are web designers, creative directors, and brand identity designers who are highly skilled in visual design, infographics, Adobe Photoshop, and other design work. They also have years of experience in product development projects in Android, iOS, Wordpress, and others, building high quality digital products such as mobile apps, e-commerce stores, landing pages, and SaaS and web applications.
What other services does Toptal provide?
Besides our talent matching services, we also provide web and application development services like a development company. Through our Toptal Projects team, we assemble cross-functional teams of senior project managers, web developers, app developers, user interface designers, and freelancers with other technical skills. Our team members follow a well-defined development process to build a fully functional solution.
Rima is a product designer with more than 8 years of experience. With expertise in graphic design and branding, she has facilitated the redesign of websites, platforms, and integrated design systems for companies like Gigabyte and Ultra Labs.
To compete in a highly competitive digital landscape, companies in every industry need graphic designers who can produce high-quality visuals—such as marketing materials, website graphics, and social media images—that resonate with users.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of graphic designers will grow by 3% over the next decade, with an annual increase of about 22,800 openings each year, on average. And although print-based publications are on the decline, Forbes reports that the demand for digital graphic designers is increasing.
With business and technology continuing to evolve, it’s more important than ever for hiring managers to know how to find, hire, and retain the best graphic designers. In this comprehensive guide, we clarify what a graphic designer does and detail the skills and attributes to look for in the hiring process.
What attributes distinguish quality Graphic Designers from others?
The ideal graphic design candidate will create cohesive and visually appealing artwork that aptly communicates a brand’s look, voice, and messaging to help a company achieve its business goals.
Professional graphic designers work from initial design concepts through rounds of revisions to create high-quality work. They have an array of design tools like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Sketch, After Effects, and Figma, as well as emerging AI capabilities at their disposal for creating visual assets, including logos, print materials, and packaging designs.
To stand out, a graphic designer should have some or all of the following skills:
Mastery of graphic design principles
The right graphic designers for hire will have an innate sense of artistry and extensive knowledge of fundamental design principles, including contrast, balance, shape, white space, layout, proportion, hierarchy, repetition, and movement. Furthermore, they should be able to thoughtfully implement design concepts such as the golden ratio, which informs a designer’s choices on font size and image-to-typography ratio, and the rule of thirds, a guideline for the composition of visual art, white space, and symmetry.
The best candidates will also exhibit design thinking and visual thinking skills, as evidenced by their ability to synthesize feedback and ideas, and communicate a concept to the client.
Digital and print design experience
Digital design calls for UI and UX knowledge and experience with software commonly used in the design industry, such as collaborative prototyping tools like InVision Studio and Figma. Designing for print requires overlapping skills, including expertise in layout software such as InDesign and an understanding of paper quality and printing processes.
The ideal candidate will be well-versed in the best digital and print media practices to produce high-quality designs. They will also keep track of significant industry trends and styles, such as minimalism, retro, and futuristic.
Typography guides a design’s overall visual impact, readability, and communication. A high-caliber graphic design candidate will understand how to correctly combine font styles, sizes, and layouts to create a typographic hierarchy that aids user comprehension. Top candidates will also have in-depth knowledge of kerning and tracking, alignment and grids, and accessibility standards for web typography.
Command of color theory
Color plays a key role in visual communication. Understanding how colors influence mood and psychology allows designers to create artwork that conveys a message clearly and elicits the intended emotional response from the audience.
Understanding of branding and visual identity design
Branding establishes a consistent visual identity across all touch points and is a fundamental aspect of the graphic designer’s work, from logos to marketing materials. Professional freelance graphic designers ensure that design elements like colors, fonts, and photos align with their client’s brand aesthetics and values.
Branding knowledge also allows graphic designers to make design decisions that positively impact brand perception, ensuring that each element in a composition contributes to the overall brand strategy and resonates with the target audience.
Proficiency in design software
A graphic designer’s tool belt comprises a multitude of programs and software. Skilled candidates should be able to demonstrate expertise in the latest versions of design programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign; Sketch; and Figma.
The right candidate will also be able to transition seamlessly from one platform to another for workflow efficiency, as different platforms are specialized for specific tasks and design purposes. For instance, a graphic designer might use an application such as InDesign on a campaign with print assets, Photoshop for photos and graphic assets, and Illustrator or Figma for web graphics, such as UI icons.
How can you identify the ideal Graphic Designer for you?
Hiring the right graphic designer for your brand is key to producing good design. As you begin to collect résumés, remember that working with a mid- or senior-level designer instead of a junior will provide a different experience for you and your team. There are pros and cons for each.
For example, experienced designers will have a more highly developed design style and consistent work ethic. However, you’ll pay more for their graphic design experience, knowledge, and expertise, and they may be stuck in a particular design trend. On the other hand, a junior graphic designer will be less experienced but will also be less expensive and may bring a fresh perspective reflecting emerging design trends.
Whoever you choose, the designer you hire must be the right fit for your company and brand. Look for a designer who will interact positively with your team and stakeholders. Here are some additional attributes to keep in mind:
An exceptional portfolio
A designer’s portfolio is their calling card and an important element to consider in the hiring process. Look for a design portfolio that clearly shows a broad range of work, skills, and tools applicable to the position you are hiring for. Additionally, the best candidates have portfolios that tell a cohesive story and demonstrate how design problems were addressed throughout the project.
Visual communication skills
Graphic designers should have a strong sense of how users will experience their work and the intended emotion and messaging the brand wishes to reflect. The right candidate will have strong communication skills and be able to present ideas persuasively, leading users to take action on a message and thus positively impact a company’s bottom line.
Graphic designers rely on problem-solving skills to navigate challenges in the creative process and create meaningful visuals that address client needs. These skills help designers tackle complex briefs, reconcile client preferences, and find innovative design solutions. If a company has a dilemma as to how its visual identity communicates to potential users, such as which colors to incorporate or how to organize graphic elements, a qualified graphic designer should be able to help resolve these issues.
How to Write a Graphic Designer Job Description for Your Project
The graphic designer you hire must be able to perform well and integrate within the team, so be sure your job posting reflects the work required and the corporate culture and communication style candidates can expect. Be transparent about the specific challenges the team is facing and the qualities you are looking for to complement your team. Furthermore, outline the project’s scope, including timeline, deliverables, and the review and approval process. Being clear about expectations from the outset will make the process of finding the right graphic designer for your project smoother and speedier.
Attention to design details
In design, details matter. A graphic designer must see the bigger picture and understand how every detail contributes to the end product. For example, brands often have strict style guidelines that must be followed. Attention to detail is essential to ensure that brand elements such as logos, color palettes, and fonts are used correctly and consistently across all materials.
Project management and collaboration
Expertly vetted graphic designers will be able to manage workflows, collaborate and share drafts, and seek and respond to feedback throughout the project to ensure client satisfaction. The ideal candidate will advocate for design decisions that align with the project’s goals by knowing how to push back on stakeholder feedback appropriately, e.g., demonstrating the feasibility of their original idea by showing how they plan to execute it, what resources they would need, and how they would overcome potential risks.
Knowledge of UX/UI principles
UX and UI principles enable graphic designers to go beyond simply producing aesthetically appealing artwork, enabling them to contribute to a seamless user experience that improves engagement, customer retention, and conversion rates.
Incorporating UX principles into a design can also improve accessibility by ensuring people of all abilities can use it. For example, graphic designers with UX knowledge will understand that color contrast is paramount to ensuring that individuals with visual impairments can access and engage with web and app content independently.
What are the most important Graphic Designer interview questions?
It’s vital that you know the best interview questions to ask graphic designer candidates. By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to assess a candidate’s problem-solving abilities, design philosophy, and communication skills. Interview questions are also a good way to gauge a candidate’s compatibility with your company’s culture and mission. These questions and requests should help you form a good picture of each candidate’s experience:
Can you describe your design process, from concept to final product?
You’ll want to explore your candidate’s creative process and work style to determine team compatibility and culture fit. For instance, they may like to sketch and brainstorm in a group setting or need independent work time to develop and refine concepts before presenting them to the team. Additionally, they may be open to extensive feedback and iterations or feel like exploring too many design options is more likely to derail a project. Look for a graphic designer who can articulate the rationale for each step in their process.
When should you hire a graphic designer, and how are they different from other digital designers?
The type of designer you need depends on several factors, including your business goals, budget, and your target audience. A freelance graphic designer can be beneficial in various scenarios where you need professional design expertise to create visual materials that effectively communicate your message, enhance your brand, or improve user experiences.
While graphic designers and other types of digital designers often share overlapping skills and responsibilities, graphic designers primarily work on two-dimensional artwork such as logos, business cards, brochures, social media graphics, and packaging design.
How will knowing the process of design help you if you decide to hire a graphic designer?
Knowing the process of design empowers hiring managers to be more engaged and informed about the role they are hiring for, leading to smoother collaborations, better design outcomes, and, ultimately, more successful projects. Understanding the design process lets you communicate your vision, business objectives, and expectations to the designer. You can also provide detailed briefs and feedback, leading to better collaboration and the desired outcome.
Additionally, knowing the steps involved in design helps you set realistic timelines and expectations. You’ll understand that good design takes time, and you’ll be less likely to rush the process or expect instant results from initial concepts.
How important is it for a candidate to have design experience in your industry?
Designing for different industries often involves understanding specific design conventions, trends, and audience preferences. Industry experience can give candidates an advantage, making them more likely to have relevant work in their portfolio, showcasing their ability to create designs tailored to the industry’s requirements that resonate with the target audience.
Designers with industry experience may also better understand clients’ unique needs and challenges within that industry, without the need for extensive research into the business, products, or services. This can lead to more effective communication and collaboration when working on projects.
Designers with industry experience are also likely to be familiar with the competition and will be able to create designs that stand out in a competitive landscape. They can also ensure that their clients’ branding and messaging are distinct from others in the industry.
Tell me about a challenging design project you worked on and how you overcame it.
Working with a graphic designer is a collaborative effort that requires some give and take. Asking how a designer has responded to challenges can be an excellent way to see how they problem-solve in difficult situations. Ideally, they will share a scenario that shows how they used their communication skills, curiosity, and innovation to turn a negative into a positive. If an applicant speaks poorly of past clients, consider that a red flag. Instead, look for someone who can learn from mistakes and thrive under pressure.
How do you ensure your designs are visually appealing and communicate the intended message effectively?
A graphic designer should not only be creative, they should also be able to explain why their designs are effective. Articulating what makes a visual design cohesive, eye-catching, and engaging is imperative. There is a delicate balance between a designer’s job to “sell” the team on their ideas and producing what the client wants. For instance, when creating a banner ad, the design team might choose to make a product photo much larger than the promotional text so that people will be drawn to the impressive image before reading the copy (as opposed to the other way around).
Can you describe when you had to work within brand guidelines and adapt your designs accordingly?
As much as a graphic designer must bring innovative ideas to the table that excite, inspire, and surprise the client, they must also work within the brand’s guidelines. When hiring, you’ll need to be sure the designer understands the brand and is willing to work within the parameters provided for the graphic design project, such as correctly using the client’s Pantone color palette and wordmarks.
Why do companies hire Graphic Designers?
Companies hire graphic designers for several reasons. They may need to create a visual identity for a new print or digital product to increase customer engagement and generate sales. They may want to overhaul an established brand’s look across multiple platforms and reposition it more effectively in light of social, political, or market changes. The company may have specific problems with how customers interact with their brand’s products, such as a website or customer portal.
High-quality graphic design allows a company to communicate its values and mission to meet its business goals, such as attracting new audiences, boosting customer engagement, increasing brand awareness, or improving sales.
Seeking a professional designer who can fulfill these needs is a process that goes beyond evaluating a résumé or portfolio. Artistry, technical ability, and flexibility are essential elements. However, familiarity with a designer’s workflow, creative process, and communication style is vital to finding the ideal candidate.
Working with a graphic designer is a highly interactive experience. It will be a learning process for you and the designer you choose. Along the way, you’ll be challenged to look more closely at your brand identity and decide how your brand’s message and look should change and what needs to remain as is. A qualified designer with a good communication style, flexibility, creativity, and curiosity can help you refresh your brand’s identity or create a new look that will take your brand to the next level.