Dahlia Creative Graphic Designer

Graphic Design vs Canva – What is better?

In the ever-evolving realm of visual communication, two contenders stand tall: traditional Graphic Design and the modern design tool, Canva. Both bring distinct strengths and capabilities to the table, catering to a diverse array of creative needs. But is one better than the other? Can we even compare the two? Are they one in the same?

What is Graphic Design

Graphic design is a creative discipline that involves the visual communication of ideas, information, and messages through the use of typography, imagery, color, and layout. It is a versatile field that encompasses various forms of visual media, including print, digital, and multimedia. Graphic designers combine artistic skills, technical knowledge, and a deep understanding of visual aesthetics to create visually appealing and effective designs

Graphic designers use a number of tools, starting with pens and paper, tablets, laptops and computer. The industry standard in Australia is Adobe Creative Suite but designers also use other software and online platforms. 

Pros of Graphic Design

  • Unique and Custom: With skills in software like Adobe Creative Suite, designers can create intricate and highly customized designs to fit the specific needs of the business.
  • Scalability: Working with vector files, the final product can be used for small business cards and huge road side posters. 
  • Highly Skilled: Graphic designers have trained in identifying the needs of the clients. They can step back from the personal feelings of the business and incorporate colour theory, competition analysis and user feedback to produce an outcome that suits the needs of the business. 

Cons of Graphic Design

  • Cost: Hiring a skilled graphic designer can be expensive, especially for small businesses or individuals with limited budgets.
  • Time: The design process can take time, particularly if multiple iterations and revisions are required to achieve the desired result.
  • Subjectivity and Personal Preferences: Design is subjective, and what appeals to one person may not resonate with another. A designer may be coming at your project from a point of research and experience, but personal preferences might not agree with that which can cause frustration and delays.

What is Canva?

Canva is a popular online digital design platform that allows users to create a wide variety of visual content, including social media posts, presentations, posters, documents, and more. It was founded in 2012 by Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht, and Cameron Adams, and has since grown into a widely used tool for individuals, businesses, and organizations looking to create professional-looking designs without the need for advanced design skills or software.

Pros of Canva

  • Cost: You can do it yourself using Canva’s free version which provides access to a wide range of design tools and resources, making it a cost-effective option for individuals and businesses on a budget. No expensive software subscriptions or labour charges. 
  • Time: With its ready-made templates and simple customization options, Canva allows for rapid design creation, making it ideal for time-sensitive projects.
  • Control and Accessibility: You can make whatever you want, basically anywhere you want. With a cloud based platform you can quickly pump out social media graphics, using preset templates and assets, and add your own uploaded assets. 

Cons of Canva

  • Limitations: The level of customization is limited compared to what a skilled graphic designer can achieve. You can not create or edit vectors, it is tricky to save files as print ready without a pro membership, and you can only use it online. 
  • Cookie Cutter: While templates are a time-saver, due to the popularity of Canva, designs created using its popular templates can often have a recognizable “Canva look,” which might not stand out in a competitive design landscape when others are using the same template. 
  • Ownership and Licensing: Users should be cautious about the usage rights and ownership of assets in Canva’s library. The platform offers both free and premium elements, and not all elements can be used for commercial purposes without proper licensing.

What wins?

In the ongoing debate of graphic design vs Canva, there is not winner. It is not something that can be compared effectively. It’s like comparing hiring a Plumber to going to Bunnings and doing it yourself. One is a trade and one is a tool.

Just because a free tool is available, it doesn’t mean that you have the skills and training to be able to use it to it’s best ability. Does having a wrench make you a plumber? Even if you use it to fix your taps? Let’s ask this another way. Does a stethoscope make you a doctor? Does a pair of scissors make you a hairdresser? Does a paintbrush make you an artist?

No! Canva is a tool. It can be used by anyone and everyone. It gets a job done, but it’s not going to be the same as getting a professional to do it. Using Canva does not make you a graphic designer. No different to how I can not call myself a plumber because I can fix my own taps (by the way I can not lol, 6 month later and my tap is still leaking!) 

However Canva (or alternate online design platforms like Adobe Express) are here to stay. And they can be a valuable tool for graphic designers to utilise. Graphic designers don’t need to get eye twitches when people mention Canva to them. We have to evolve. 

How can Graphic Designers utilise Canva?

Canva is a collaborative tool. You can create assets for your clients for them to make their own digital assets. This can be a great time and cost saver for your clients when they need regular simple digital assets.

Graphic designers can make customer templates for their clients to use. So that they are not the same as everyone else is using. They can include branded assets and follow a branding style guide so they are cohesive with the rest of their brand. You can make these available from your website, and turn it into a passive income stream. 

Making images to use on Canva is another idea. Getting inspired the branding, make icons, shapes and fun words so that your clients can add them to their social media posts. 

What about offering a training package? Teach a man to fish and all that jazz. You can give your clients better control over their graphical needs if you teach them how to use the graphic assets you have made. 


In conclusion, Graphic Designers don’t need to be afraid of Canva. Canva is not a replacement for most of what Graphic Designers do, it’s just a really great tool for making digital assets. There will always be businesses who want to DIY, and that’s ok.