Explaining Graphic Design to a Five Year Old


Kids are naturally curious about what their parents do for a living, and when we try to explain it to them (or even some adults) our explanations generally fall into one of two categories: lengthy and overly informative or hasty and placating. You have to find the middle ground.

This is even more important when you have to explain a job that’s a bit more abstract, like artist or psychologist. You have to go big with color and candy wrappers to keep them listening.

This dialogue is loosely taken from a conversation our creative director had with his daughter while driving to the grocery store.

Daddy, what exactly do you do?

I’m a graphic designer, honey.

I know, but what IS a graphic designer?

Graphic designers make pictures for things.

What kind of things?

See your juice box right there, someone like Daddy designed that. Things like board games, posters, candy wrappers and book covers, and a bunch of other cool stuff.

You mean like my Spider Book?

Yes, exactly. The cover of every book is designed.

Why do you need to design them?

Because people like when things look nice and are easier to understand.

What people?

I work with businesses to design cool things for them and solve problems.

How do you do that?

I use colors and letters and pictures. Then, I arrange them to make people feel a certain way. See that stop sign right there? That is designed to let us know that we have to stop to let other drivers go ahead of us. Someone like me designed that.

Why is it red?

It is red because the color red is easy to see. If it were blue, it would blend in with the sky. That’s what designers have to think about.

That sounds like fun.

Design is a fun way to help people communicate with each other. Graphic design is everywhere you look and nearly everything has some design on it. Daddy gets to help decide what to put on those things.

Did you design this store?

No, but do you see that package of cookies right there? The pictures and letters on the package is what daddy does. Same with the soup and the chocolate milk.

Daddy, what are you going to do today at work?

<Sigh> I’m going to make someone’s logo bigger.


Design is Everywhere

Graphic design is problem solving and communication in visual form. Like a piece of a puzzle, graphic design, from logos to advertisements should make the world a little easier through which to travel. By teaching your kids about design, you are giving them a glimpse into art, creativity, problem solving, business and branding.

Next time your child asks you what you do for a living, take a breath and try to explain in the simplest of terms. Explaining it in the most uncomplicated way can even help you see it in a new light.

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