A graphic artist is a craftsman who composes visual material for printing or digital display. Originally, he or she would create plates which could transfer designs to paper. Now the plate-making is automated, if plates are required at all, and the artist does most of his or her work completely digitally, on a computer.
Ads in magazines or newspapers and on the web are all created by a graphic artist. They may create the picture, or may use photographs or stock imagery. Text is composed by a copywriter, and artist is responsible for selecting the appropriate font, color and placement for maximum impact of the message. Graphic artists are usually commercial artists, but there are more and more working entirely in digital media producing fine art — that is, art whose purpose isn't to sell a product or convey a message, but is meant to evoke an emotion, convey a feeling or present a mood.
Graphic artist needs a firm grounding in the discipline of the visual arts — composition, color theory and so on. A poorly composed ad, with conflicting and annoying colors, will be quickly overlooked by potential viewers. Graphic artists work in a particular software system, such as Adobe® Photoshop® or CorelDRAW®, but produce images in a standard format, either for camera-reproduction to print, or for online display. These days, someone working in this position must also be able to create animated images and even video.
A graphic artist can take a photograph of one individual and 'cut out' and transpose their head to the body of another individual; put a politician's head on the body of someone in a bikini, for example. With a sufficient degree of skill and plenty of time, a graphic artist can construct elaborate scenes entirely from computer-generated shapes, using the careful introduction of texture, color, reflections and shading. Computer-generated characters have starred in movies. There is some reason to believe that graphic artists will create the stars of the future, who will never have a flesh and blood existence at all.