What is Print Design? (Definition, Types, Process)

what is print design? A poster in the streets of NYC

What is Print Design?

Print design is a subset of graphic design where the design is first created digitally then printed out. Print design is mostly used for branding and marketing purposes. Business cards, flyers, and packaging are all part of print design.

Print design shouldn’t be confused with printing. Printing is the process of transforming the digital design into hard copy on materials like paper, cards, or boxes. Print design is the design that’s going to be printed on a physical publication. It’s important to distinguish the two as clients might expect the designer to print the designs as well.

What’s the Difference Between Graphic Design and Print Design?

Graphic design is the art of visual communication through concepts like typography, layout, color, and imagery. Graphic design is a broad term to define different fields of design. Print design is a part of graphic design that focuses on creating designs that are intended to be printed out. These include physical publications like flyers, posters, and product packaging.

What’s the difference between Digital Design and Print Design?

Graphic design is used as a general term to define all kinds of designs that include the use of graphics. A follow-up question you might ask is, “what’s the difference between digital design and print design.” These both are subsets of graphic design but are different in their implementation.

Digital design is created to be used on digital platforms. This could be a logo for a website, social media graphics, or vector icons.

Print design is created to be used for print publications. This includes newspapers, magazines, and flyers. The designing part is similar, the only difference between the two is the medium of the end-product.

Types of Print Design

Print design includes designing for different print publications - and these can be a lot. There are print designers who specialize in a specific publication making them experts in their chosen niche. There are many types of print design but below are some common ones.

Business Card Design

design for stack of business cards

Business cards are essential to every business owner for better branding. It improves brand awareness and helps people memorize your brand better. Most print designers who create cards for businesses also specialize in other stationery such as letterhead design.

These business cards include personal information such as a contact number, email, and business address. Professional business cards have a minimalistic design and use the brand’s colors and fonts making them an important part of brand identity.

Flyer Print Design

flyer design

Flyers or fliers are still used by businesses due to their cheap printing costs. Print designers specializing in flyer design are responsible for attracting audiences. These flyers are usually printed on A5 paper and distributed by hand on streets. This helps a business reach more people without spending too much on marketing.

These flyers include a company’s branding, details of a specific product, service, or event, an eye-catching graphic, and legible text.

Label and Packaging Design

product packaging design for coffee company

In 2020, roughly 4.38 million new businesses opened up in the United States alone (source). With so many businesses opening up every year, it’s crucial for businesses to stand out from their competitors.

Businesses spend lots of money on high-quality labels and packaging designs for better branding. This print design niche focuses on designing labels and packaging for products to make them look more appealing to potential buyers and unique from competitors.

Poster Design

multiple poster designs lined up

Posters are large printed ads, pictures, or promotions. Posters are designed and displayed for temporary use to showcase an idea, product or an upcoming event in public. Posters are used to hook in passersby through attractive visuals and supporting text. Common examples of posters are movie posters, promotional posters (discounts and deals), and event posters (festivals, concerts, etc.)

Specializing in poster design would enable you to effectively communicate a brand’s message and catch the eyes of audiences. You should also have a good idea of layout when designing a poster as these are much larger in size.

Magazine and Cover Print Design

magazine cover design of Mona Lisa

Magazines are still very popular amongst readers. Magazine print designers specialize in composing beautiful magazine layouts and cover designs. To design a magazine cover you should be able to use imagery effectively as your main image is going to have the biggest impact on an audience.

For the inside of the magazine design, you need to have a good idea of layout techniques such as grid systems. Almost every magazine uses grids to compose, organize and arrange text. This also helps maintain a good balance between images and text - keeping the readers engaged.

T-Shirt Print Design

T-shirt print design with graphic in front

T-shirt design is one of the most common types of print design. T-shirts can be used as a promotional tool. You’ll most commonly see these types of t-shirt prints in supermarkets where the staff is wearing shirts with the company logo. T-shirt designs are also common in fan groups - such as to promote an upcoming music festival.

If you want to get started in t-shirt print design you can register an account on a print-on-demand service. These POD services take your designs and print them on t-shirts when a customer places an order.

Menu Design

menu design for fast food restaurant

Good menu design is important for restaurants, cafes, and other catering businesses. Menus are straightforward; they list the items and the prices clearly communicating what the customers can order.

Menu design also varies from business to business. Since your menu will show your personal style it is an integral part of branding. The use of images and colors can really distinguish your menu designs from competitors.

Other Print Design Types

The above-discussed print design types are the most common ones. Apart from those, there are many other print design types. Here are some examples:

  • Vinyl Wrapping
  • Signage design
  • Greeting cards
  • Invitations
  • Book design
  • Calendars
  • Postcards
  • Manuals
  • Letterheads
  • Stickers
  • Folders
  • Clothing

If you choose to specialize in a specific print design niche, this should give you a good idea of what options you have.

Conclusion: What is Print Design?

Print design is the profession of designing for print publications such as flyers, magazines, and posters. There are many types of print design ranging from business cards to product packaging.

Print designers are in high demand due to growing consumerism and businesses need to stand out. If you are interested in becoming a print designer, it’s important to know that there are differences between print design and other fields of graphic design. Knowing these differences is the first step to getting started.