A layout artist is responsible for the overall visual look of a publication. He or she arranges text and images to create a pleasing layout for readers. These artists may work in advertising agencies, newspapers, or magazines, and they may work on different projects, such as brochures, articles, reports, posters, and ad copy.
While layout artists once used tape or glue to piece together pages of copy and images by hand, most modern graphics professionals lay out their work digitally using computer graphics software. Learning graphics software is a key accomplishment in a professional's education and training. Working with images and text on a screen using visual editing software tools is a daily task for most artists, although there may be some smaller publications or small businesses that still use manual paste up layout techniques.
These professionals must select colors that fit with each publication or project to convey the desired mood or tone of the material. The format of the page layouts must be easy to read, and the font and lettering size must be clear. Layout artists must make many daily decisions about all of the details of their work in order to produce successful projects.
Working for a publication such as a newspaper or magazine requires an artist to be cohesive in his or her designs. Creating fresh-looking pages while maintaining the magazine or newspaper's unique style is an important goal to achieve. Layout artists are considered creative production staff. The number of page layouts expected daily by these artists varies greatly depending on the type of business or publication.
Newspaper layout professionals are usually under pressure to produce pages on an extremely strict deadline, if the publication is a daily one. He or she arranges photographs and text to create easily readable pages, and chooses different font sizes for story headlines. Similar duties are performed by magazine layout artists, but the deadline pressure may be less intense if the publication is produced monthly rather than weekly or daily. Both create ad pages for advertisers.
The distinction between the duties of this artist and a graphic designer is often a slight one. Their tasks of producing finished page layouts from images and text tend to overlap. In general though, layout artists' work usually focuses on page arrangement rather than drawing. A graphic artist may add more of his or her original drawings and artwork to production projects.