What is an Art Director

An art director's duties basically revolve around the handling of artistic trends and decisions in plans and campaigns. Several times, it is up to you to think up strategies and ensure the accomplishments of the goals and take charge in harmonizing with different artists and productive workers. In addition, as an art director, you must keep an eye on the improvement of workflow and the labor force, create ideas and strategies, and validate or give opinions on every ingenious achievement by workers.

You must exhibit good communication, project management, coordination, leadership skills, and aesthetic assessment. Additionally, you must have a bachelor's degree. Being an apprentice in an art-related industry can help as well. You will earn an average salary of $74,672 or $35.90 per hour.

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.

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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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Average Salary
$74,511
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
1%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
10,976
Job Openings
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Average Salary for an Art Director

Art Directors in America make an average salary of $74,511 per year or $36 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $114,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $48,000 per year.
Average Salary
$74,511
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12 Art Director Resume Examples

Learn How To Write an Art Director Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Art Director resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Art Director Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. Microsoft Jobs (32)
  2. Apple Jobs (61)
  3. Macy's Jobs (35)
  4. J. C. Penney Jobs (22)
  5. WarnerMedia Jobs (22)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Art Director Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Art Director templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Art Director resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Art Director Demographics

Art Director Gender Statistics

male

57.4 %

female

42.6 %

Art Director Ethnicity Statistics

White

73.0 %

Hispanic or Latino

11.8 %

Asian

7.7 %

Art Director Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

47.9 %

French

12.6 %

Chinese

5.1 %
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Art Director Education

Art Director Majors

14.4 %

Art Director Degrees

Bachelors

74.6 %

Associate

15.3 %

Masters

5.9 %

Top Colleges for Art Directors

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

2. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

3. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

4. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

5. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,465
Enrollment
6,483

6. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

7. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329

8. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Private

In-State Tuition
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

9. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,522
Enrollment
13,760

10. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339
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Top Skills For an Art Director

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 13.7% of Art Directors listed Graphic Design on their resume, but soft skills such as Communication skills and Creativity are important as well.

  • Graphic Design, 13.7%
  • Creative Concepts, 11.5%
  • Adobe Creative Suite, 7.2%
  • Layout, 6.5%
  • Art Direction, 6.4%
  • Other Skills, 54.7%

Best States For an Art Director

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an Art Director. The best states for people in this position are Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California. Art Directors make the most in Washington with an average salary of $103,931. Whereas in Idaho and Oregon, they would average $101,771 and $99,697, respectively. While Art Directors would only make an average of $99,213 in California, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Washington

Total Art Director Jobs:
164
Highest 10% Earn:
$162,000
Location Quotient:
0.92
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Oregon

Total Art Director Jobs:
114
Highest 10% Earn:
$153,000
Location Quotient:
1.12
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. California

Total Art Director Jobs:
874
Highest 10% Earn:
$149,000
Location Quotient:
1.22
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Art Directors

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Top Art Director Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ Art Directors and discovered their number of Art Director opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Boys & Girls Clubs of America was the best, especially with an average salary of $72,390. Ogilvy follows up with an average salary of $81,075, and then comes Leo Burnett with an average of $73,710. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as an Art Director. The employers include GMR Marketing, RingCentral, and System One

Most Common Employers For Art Director

RankCompanyZippia ScoreAverage Art Director SalaryAverage Salary
1$151,872
2$114,551
3$106,022
4$103,284
5$102,197
6$101,732

What are the best companies to work for an Art Director?

Kayb Joseph

Professor of Art, Covenant College

We encourage students to take a small business course, as most studio owners are small businesses. We also promote internships to determine the right fit.Show more

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Becoming an Art Director FAQs

How do I get started as an art director?

You can get started as an art director by earning your bachelor's degree. Most art directors hold degrees, unsurprisingly, in art or design subjects.

If starting from the point of professional experience rather than education, you can get started as an art director by first working in graphic design, illustration, photography, or any other artistic occupation.

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How long does it take to become an art director?

It takes three to five years to become an art director. Getting a bachelor's degree usually takes about four years, and you will more likely than not be required to have some prior work experience before earning the title of art director.

A portfolio, or collection of work that demonstrates your style and ability, is another common requirement. Three to five years of work experience could potentially replace an art education.

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How much do art directors get paid?

Art directors in the U.S. get paid about $69,000 a year, on average. As with all professions, salaries can vary greatly depending on location, prior experience, education, and other factors.

However, art director salaries have a greater range than usual, with the lowest earners making about $46,000 a year and top-earners making well over $105,000 a year.

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What is the difference between an art director and a creative director?

The difference between an art director and a creative director is that an art director is focused solely on aesthetics, whereas a creative director will handle many other duties.

These duties include strategy, campaign execution, and more. On some occasions, a creative director will perform art direction as well. More often, however, art directors and creative directors will work in tandem, with creative directors providing conceptual ideas behind a project and art directors executing on the details.

Art directors and creative directors also differ when it comes to compensation, with creative directors earning far more. The average salary of a creative director in the U.S. is well over $100k a year.

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