Interior Design Vs. Graphic Design

Since I’ve moved to the graphic side of design from the interior side of design I’ve noticed some major differences, pros and cons. (The Interior Design I’m referring to is more like Interior Architecture, not the decorating side.)


These are myfindings.


Interior Design – High to Really High
With Interior Design, there is so much at stake. Just annotating the wrong finish accidently could cost you $1000s. There are ALWAYS surprises on site (mostly with renovations) and no one wants to take the liability. I was working on a basement renovation with a designer friend of mine, and the contractor wanted her sign off on custom door drawings “stating that XXXX Projects Inc. ¬†and XXX Building Materials Ltd. are not responsible for the calculations of the construction of the doors.” As designers, we generally want the person who is making the stuff to be responsible for the final measurements, because even when you blatantly dimension the heck out of your drawings, somehow, things don’t always end up like the design drawings. Even with 3-D computer drawings, it’s impossible to see the final product until it’s made. Natural light, even man-made light can change the colour of paint on the walls dramatically. There are always deadlines. With commercial design, it’s more intense. With residential design, you can usually gain extra time while waiting for the clients decisions. They usually have a job and a family so aren’t generally 100% focused on getting the job done.
Graphic Design – Medium to Low
There are deadlines usually set by unrealistic client expectations, but because I don’t have to rely on anyone else to get my job done – this hasn’t been a cause for concern yet. Also, if the client doesn’t like it, it’s VERY easy to move a few pixels around and everyone’s happy. You also see the finished product before it’s ‘finished’.


Interior Design – High
I find that Interior Design has so much going on in one single project that I’m not expected to drain my creative juices all day long. The client usually has an idea of what they want which we help them with in concept development, then there’s space planning, finish selection, working drawings and project management and a lot of ‘creative’ problem solving. For someone like me with ADD, this is a job come true. There’s always something going on that keeps me moving. (i.e. I’m not stuck at a computer 40 hours a week.)
Graphic Design – Really High
I have to be on almost constantly with graphic design. I’ve come up with so many concepts/designs in a very short period of time compared to Interior Design, most times, with not much to start with. My brain really hurts at the end of those days.


Interior Design – Medium High to Really high (If your’e famous)
Maybe this isn’t true for everyone, but Interior Designers generally do pretty well-The bill out rates are $95-$135/hr and up. Granted, these are the same wages I’ve seen at mechanic shops. So I say medium high because many ‘professionals’ charge this rate out. And if you’re an employee, I’d say the wages are medium-low. (In Canada anyway)
Graphic Design – Medium to High
I think you can make higher wages depending on your skill level and ability to read the client’s needs. This is still new to me, so I can’t really make a valid call on the wages to expect as a Graphic Designer. With Interior Design, a lot more education is required (I have a degree and I still learn on every job after 8 years) and no one seems to expect you to have a degree in Graphic Design (it’s kind of like being an artist, it’s easy to pick up if you have the talent and school isn’t necessarily required). Although, I would loveto go to school for Graphic Design, we’re just too busy. Also, I find it relatively simple to guess how much time it’s going to take to get a job done, where with Interior Design, you always have to add to the contract, “Changes are extra” because there are ALWAYS changes in the design stage and after. :)


Interior Design – High
Interior Designers should look like they know how to put themselves together, and be presented well. It’s kind of like, would you hire an over-weight personal trainer? Probably not. Many of the firm owners shop at Holt Renfrew and buy Hermes Bags. I had a past client tell me she didn’t go with a designer who came to their home because she wore frumpy clothes and her hair was frizzy. Yes, it’s true. I think my clients must be really nice.
Graphic Design – Low
Well, not really low. But jeans and t-shirts are totally ok. Even grunge is cool. I guess the general look is ‘artist’ so blatant high-end names brands are not cool.


Satisfaction – End Result
Interior Design – Super High
The transformation when things are built in real-life is incredible. That’s probably why there are so many before and after design shows. I love to see an inefficient and drab space transform into something beautiful and functional. The end product is often worth the pain! (Like having a baby). I’ve seen many co-workers (including myself) crying because of the stress along the way, but when it’s all done, it’s magical and the tears are forgotten. (Kinda.)
Graphic Design – High
It’s always wonderful to see your product working and enjoyed by others. The only reason I rate it lower than Interior Design is that you only can experience it on a 2 dimensional level – and the transformation is from white screen to art screen. Not as painful. I base how rewarding the outcome is on how much suffering is experienced along the way.


When I decided on Interior Design 14 years ago, (YIKES) I choose it for different reasons than why I’ve chosen Graphic Design today. They’re both creative fields, but in my opinion, very different. Graphic Design fits in with family life. It’s easy to work from home and the jobs can generally be finished in 1 – 4 weeks. Interior Design projects are 2 – 24 months, or even longer and there’s much more that can go wrong.


(Photo 1. The interior designer (girl in black dress) is a friend of mine who always looks that great.)
(Photo 2. The graphic designer is on the far right of the boys – he is one the coolest dressers I know. The other boys are programmers. They were doing a pose for me to look subdued.)



  1. sam367888 October 20th

    Thank you for the great web site – a true resource, and one many people clearly enjoy thanks for sharing the info, keep up the good work going….
    coach handbag

  2. sam367888 October 20th

    That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.
    Software Testing Training Bangalore

  3. Anonymous October 20th

    Thx a lot for this information, I think to change my job from graphic designer to interior. I have enouth experience in 3Dmodeling, but I never worked as interior designer and I wasn’t sure that I will like doing it. I hope I will have the same impresion as you describe, because what you say about interior designer sounds enouth good for me… I hope I will not regret the decision I am getting now

  4. Anonymous October 20th

    Hey ! thanks.
    I am currently studying architecture. and im wanting to quit and probably go to a grad school for graphic/interior design. but i want to know if there is any way i could both and if i can then does that make sense or not ?
    also if i continue with architecture, is there any way i can become a graphic designer and/or an interior designer by doing masters in ID/GD?
    please let me know! would be of great help

    thank you!

    • Camille Sikorsky October 20th

      My process was an Interior Design degree, and then transferred over to Graphic Design as more self taught. Many of the things I learned as an Interior Designer transferred over to design. Personal opinion is to focus and become awesome at one thing. I still do Interior Design on a personal lever cause I love it so much. :)

  5. Anna May October 20th

    This was quite useful. Thank you! :D

  6. A. Reed October 20th

    This was a very interesting read for me- as I have a similar story. I obtained a degree in interior design but because of some of the cons listed above (and my growing passion for graphics) pursued graphic design instead. I have never been formally trained in graphic design (except for a couple of interiors classes that dabbled in it)-but trained myself and now do freelancing from home. Though the glamour and excitement of interior design did once pull on my heartstrings, I have found a much greater passion for graphics and the ease with which I personally fit into this art. Thanks so much for the info, I really enjoyed it!

  7. catballs07 October 20th

    Thank you for posting this. I am an Interior design student at AI and I am contemplating to switch over to graphic design. This helps me a little but do you have any more suggestions of what are the pro’s to graphic then interior design?

  8. Claudia @ GreyboxCreative.com October 20th

    Good comparison. Both interior and graphic design require creativity. It will also depend on the professional’s skill and how he will be able to handle the stress that comes with it.