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Become An Art Director

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Working As An Art Director

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $77,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Art Director Do

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design and direct others who develop artwork or layouts.

Duties

Art directors typically do the following: 

  • Determine how best to represent a concept visually
  • Determine which photographs, art, or other design elements to use
  • Develop the overall look or style of a publication, an advertising campaign, or a theater, television, or film set
  • Lead graphic designers, set and exhibit designers, or other design staff
  • Review and approve designs, artwork, photography, and graphics developed by other staff members 
  • Talk to clients to develop an artistic approach and style
  • Coordinate activities with other artistic and creative departments
  • Develop detailed budgets and timelines
  • Present designs to clients for approval

Art directors typically oversee the work of other designers and artists who produce images for television, film, live performances, advertisements, or video games. They determine the overall style in which a message is communicated visually to its audience. For each project, they articulate their vision to artists. The artists then create images, such as illustrations, graphics, photographs, or charts and graphs, or design stage and movie sets, according to the art director’s vision.

Art directors work with art and design staffs in advertising agencies, public relations firms, and book, magazine, or newspaper publishers to create designs and layouts. They also work with producers and directors of theater, television, or movie productions to oversee set designs. Their work requires them to understand the design elements of projects, inspire other creative workers, and keep projects on budget and on time. Sometimes they are responsible for developing budgets and timelines. 

The following are some specifics of what art directors do in different industries:

In publishing, art directors typically oversee the page layout of catalogs, newspapers, or magazines. They also choose the cover art for books and periodicals. Often, this work includes publications for the Internet, so art directors oversee production of the websites used for publication.

In advertising and public relations, art directors ensure that their clients’ desired message and image are conveyed to consumers. Art directors are responsible for the overall visual aspects of an advertising or media campaign and coordinate the work of other artistic or design staff, such as graphic designers.

In movie production, art directors collaborate with directors to determine what sets will be needed for the film and what style or look the sets should have. They hire and supervise a staff of assistant art directors or set designers to complete designs.

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How To Become An Art Director

Art directors need at least a bachelor’s degree in an art or design subject and previous work experience. Depending on the industry, they may have worked as graphic designers, fine artists, editors, or photographers, or in another art or design occupation before becoming art directors. 

Education

Many art directors start out in another art-related occupation, such as fine artists or photographers. Work experience in art or design occupations develops an art director’s ability to visually communicate to a specific audience creatively and effectively. They gain the appropriate education for that occupation, usually by earning a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

To supplement their work experience in those occupations and show their ability to take on a more creative or a more managerial role, some complete a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Most art directors work 5 years or more in another occupation before becoming art directors. Depending upon the industry, they may work as graphic designers, fine artists, editors, photographers, or in another art or design occupation before becoming art directors.

For many artists, including art directors, developing a portfolio—a collection of an artist’s work that demonstrates his or her styles and abilities—is essential. Managers, clients, and others look at artists’ portfolios when they are deciding whether to hire an employee or contract for an art project.

Important Qualities 

Communication skills. Art directors must be able to listen to and speak with staff and clients to ensure that they understand employees’ ideas and clients’ desires for advertisements, publications, or movie sets.

Creativity. Art directors must be able to come up with interesting and innovative ideas to develop advertising campaigns, set designs, or layout options.

Leadership skills. Art directors must be able to organize, direct, and motivate other artists. They need to articulate their visions to artists and oversee the work as it progresses.

Resourcefulness. Art directors must be able to adapt their latest designs to the changing technology used in their industry.

Time-management skills. Balancing competing priorities and multiple projects while meeting strict deadlines is critical for art directors.

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Art Director Career Paths

Art Director
Creative Director
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Art Director
6 Yearsyrs
Freelance Art Director
6 Yearsyrs
Design Director
7 Yearsyrs
Creative Director
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Director
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Director
7 Yearsyrs
Marketing Director
Marketing Vice President
10 Yearsyrs
Vice President
Chief Executive Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Creative Director & Designer
5 Yearsyrs
Creative Services Director
7 Yearsyrs
Director Of Art Marketing
5 Yearsyrs
President
Board Of Directors Member
8 Yearsyrs
Interactive Art Director
5 Yearsyrs
Marketing And Creative Director
6 Yearsyrs
Program Director
Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Creative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Executive Creative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Communications Director
Director Of Communications And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Communications Director
6 Yearsyrs
Production Director
Vice President Of Production
8 Yearsyrs
Production Director
5 Yearsyrs
Executive Director
Founder And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Co-Owner
Owner And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Co-Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Group Creative Director
9 Yearsyrs
Director Of User Experience
10 Yearsyrs
Designation Marketing Director
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Vice President
Senior Vice President Of Marketing
13 Yearsyrs
Director Of Communications And Marketing
Vice President Of Marketing & Communications
12 Yearsyrs
Advertising Director
Director Of Sales And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Advertising Director
6 Yearsyrs
Design Director
Vice President Product Development
13 Yearsyrs
Chief Creative Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Operations Director
Business Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Media Director
Account Director
9 Yearsyrs
Interactive Director
7 Yearsyrs
Chief Executive Officer
Director Of Strategy
11 Yearsyrs
Director Of Sales
Sales And Marketing Vice President
11 Yearsyrs
Creative Services Director
Director, Marketing And Creative Services
10 Yearsyrs
Board Of Directors Member
Chief Information Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Producer Director
Founder And Director
6 Yearsyrs
Marketing And Creative Director
Director Of Marketing And Public Relations
6 Yearsyrs
Interactive Director
Digital Director
9 Yearsyrs
Director Of Project Management
Technical Director
6 Yearsyrs
Director Of Project Management
12 Yearsyrs
Development Vice President
Chief Technology Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Development Vice President
10 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Art Director?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Graphics Manager 4.7 years
Art Director 4.0 years
Creative Director 3.9 years
Top Careers Before Art Director
Designer 6.7%
Internship 4.1%
Artist 2.7%
Top Careers After Art Director
Owner 3.6%
Designer 3.4%
Artist 2.4%
Director 1.7%
Consultant 1.6%
Internship 1.6%

Do you work as an Art Director?

Average Yearly Salary
$77,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$44,000
Min 10%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$133,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Wieden+Kennedy
Highest Paying City
Seattle, WA
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
4.2 years
How much does an Art Director make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Art Director in the United States is $77,110 per year or $37 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $44,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $133,000.

Real Art Director Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Art Director Wieden + Kennedy, Inc. Portland, OR Jan 12, 2016 $237,250
Director Broad Art Musuem Michigan State University East Lansing, MI Apr 18, 2016 $230,000
Managing Art Director, Real Time Graphics Nbcuniversal Media, LLC New York, NY Oct 17, 2015 $202,935
Art Director Rag & Bone Industries LLC New York, NY May 01, 2015 $194,740
Art Director Rag & Bone Industries LLC New York, NY Jan 05, 2015 $194,740
Art Director Facebook, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Jun 04, 2016 $184,304
Art Director Logan Productions, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Aug 30, 2016 $180,000
Art Director Logan East, Inc. New York, NY Jan 10, 2016 $180,000
Technical Art Director Zynga Inc. San Francisco, CA Nov 14, 2016 $180,000 -
$220,000
Art Director Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Inc. New York, NY Jan 01, 2016 $175,000
Art Director Bartle Bogle Hegarty LLC New York, NY Feb 02, 2015 $175,000
Character Art Director Valve Bellevue, WA Mar 06, 2016 $175,000
Art Director Droga5, LLC New York, NY Apr 15, 2016 $175,000
Art Director Touch of Beauty Supply, Inc. Harvey, IL Feb 23, 2015 $98,966
Art Director Tee Turtle LLC Saint Louis, MO Sep 15, 2016 $98,100 -
$128,100
Art Director Tekzenit, Inc. Irving, TX Jan 31, 2016 $98,000
Art Director MUH-Tay-ZIK Hof-Fer San Francisco, CA Sep 15, 2015 $98,000
Art Director and Head of Motion Graphics Stop Global Yawning, Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 01, 2015 $98,000 -
$130,000
Art Director Translation LLC New York, NY Jul 11, 2016 $97,500
Art Director Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Jan 12, 2016 $97,198
Art Director APR Energy LLC Jacksonville, FL Feb 04, 2016 $77,380
Art Director Falconbridge Services, LLC Jacksonville, FL Feb 04, 2016 $77,380
Art Director Forever & Ever Inc. New York, NY Apr 20, 2015 $77,219
Art Director Art Money Us Inc. New York, NY Aug 29, 2016 $76,176
Art Director Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America New York, NY Mar 18, 2015 $76,170
Art Director AKQA Corporation New York, NY Aug 31, 2016 $75,795 -
$98,000
Art Director AKQA Corporation New York, NY Sep 12, 2016 $75,795 -
$98,000
Art Director Kan Group Corp. Los Angeles, CA Jul 10, 2015 $75,504

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Top Skills for An Art Director

  1. Company Website
  2. Adobe Photoshop
  3. Creative Direction
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Collaborated with web designer in creating company website.
  • Used advanced Adobe Photoshop technique to address organization, exceptional and image editing process.
  • Collaborated with executives, designers, marketing and programmers to establish creative direction.
  • Hired and managed photographers and freelance graphic designers.
  • Created international ad campaigns, corporate identities, service marks, brochures and collateral materials for the aviation market.

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Top 10 Best States for Art Directors

  1. Washington
  2. Massachusetts
  3. California
  4. Georgia
  5. New Mexico
  6. New Jersey
  7. New York
  8. Oregon
  9. Illinois
  10. Utah
  • (65 jobs)
  • (96 jobs)
  • (550 jobs)
  • (78 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (45 jobs)
  • (304 jobs)
  • (28 jobs)
  • (119 jobs)
  • (13 jobs)

Art Director Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 28,618 Art Director resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Art Director Resume

View Resume Examples

Art Director Demographics

Gender

Male

51.9%

Female

39.3%

Unknown

8.9%
Ethnicity

White

60.7%

Hispanic or Latino

16.6%

Black or African American

10.5%

Asian

8.6%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

47.9%

French

12.6%

Chinese

5.1%

Mandarin

5.0%

Italian

5.0%

German

4.2%

Portuguese

3.9%

Japanese

3.2%

Arabic

2.6%

Korean

2.5%

Russian

1.8%

Cantonese

1.4%

Polish

1.2%

Dutch

0.7%

Hindi

0.6%

Turkish

0.5%

Swedish

0.4%

Hebrew

0.4%

Thai

0.4%

Greek

0.4%
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Art Director Education

Schools

School of Visual Arts

13.3%

Savannah College of Art and Design

9.8%

Fashion Institute of Technology

6.0%

Pratt Institute-Main

5.8%

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

5.5%

Academy of Art University

5.4%

Parsons the New School for Design

5.3%

Syracuse University

5.2%

Full Sail University

4.9%

Art Center College of Design

4.7%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.6%

New York University

4.1%

Rochester Institute of Technology

4.0%

Columbia College Chicago

3.8%

College for Creative Studies

3.4%

Rhode Island School of Design

3.3%

Art Institute of Philadelphia

2.8%

University of Texas at Austin

2.7%

Ringling College of Art and Design

2.7%

Art Institute of Colorado

2.7%
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Majors

Graphic Design

45.3%

Fine Arts

13.0%

Design And Visual Communication

7.4%

Photography

3.8%

Communication

3.7%

Advertising

3.3%

Computer Applications

3.0%

Business

2.7%

Marketing

2.5%

Graphic Communications

1.7%

Animation

1.6%

Theatre

1.6%

Education

1.6%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.6%

Visual And Performing Arts

1.4%

Journalism

1.3%

English

1.2%

Computer Science

1.2%

Psychology

1.1%

Public Relations

1.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

56.1%

Other

17.1%

Masters

12.0%

Associate

9.6%

Certificate

3.8%

Diploma

0.8%

Doctorate

0.4%

License

0.1%
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