Graphic Design utilises visual means ( graphically or textual) and increasingly audio to convey messages to its audience
The visual form can be used in many fields, but advertising is probably the primary vehicle employing graphic design.
The media can take many forms traditional dry and wet media, Sculpture, photography, computer compositions using industry standard software such as Adobe CS. Motion graphics and animations using flash 3D applications etc
Using some of the media above work could be produce and considered art rather than graphic design.
The key word here is design. What sets graphic design apart from art is the work not produce with total freedom spontaneity etc. that of typical in artwork. It is produced in response to a brief
A brief is basically a contractual document that lays out the criteria for a piece of work. Along with other things it will contain
formats the work will take i.e. the media to be used , physical dimensions etc.
the message, emotions it must convey to the intended audience
length of time to be scheduled for the project
key people involved in different aspects at various times within the project
Not just creatives, but key descision makers in moving a project forward i.e the one who give the nod – this is ok, that isnt
and so on
The beauty of the document is that it also serves as a guide to both client and designer, stopping either of them from veering of the intended original plan. Of course the document is written in stone and can be tweaked rework as required during the lifespan of the project. Although too much restructuring would suggest that the original fell far from what was intended, or the initial requirements were not understood. In such cases it may be better to start afresh.
The brief could be simple or very complex depending on the requirements of the client, and the resulting scope of work involved.
As such on simple project the work may be carried out individual or a group of individual who label themselves and Graphic Designers whereas on larger projects, say for example a TV advert may involve may involve many people from different creative sphere script writers, animators and other creative specialist. Each one fulfilling a part of the commisioned work. Whilst the are not Graphic Designers, they are involved in the Graphic Design process.