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.

Learn more about what an Art Director does

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. 

Learn More About How To Become an Art Director

Art Director Career Paths

Average Salary for an Art Director

Art Directors in America make an average salary of $88,367 per year or $42 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $135,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $57,000 per year.
Average Art Director Salary
$88,367 Yearly
$42.48 hourly

What Am I Worth?


Roles and Types of Art Director

The role of an art director includes a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can vary based on an individual's specific job, company, or industry.Here are some general art director responsibilities:

  • Work on and manage a large variety of graphic projects. Develop exceptional designs together with your team while always keeping the client's requirements in mind. Independently manage
  • Create graphics for company's online and offline marketing efforts, including brochures, packaging, sales sheets, case studies, presentations, inserts, newsletters, direct mail packages, event marketing signage, logos, print ads, email, landing pages, web banners, web pages, demos,
  • Design,develop and maintain e-commerce websites that align with brand guidelines

There are several types of art director, including:

Creative Director


Creative directors are key personnel in marketing and advertising agencies. They design media strategies and monitor communication campaigns for brands and products. They oversee the work of copywriters and graphic designers, revise presentations and coordinate the work of the creative team, making the final calls in creating advertisements.

The job of creative directors is essentially to whittle down the creative chaos their team generates into the most efficient, witty, and spot-on ad solutions. A good creative director will know how to motivate and inspire his/her or her team, bring the best out of the people they work with, and give space for great ideas to grow.

Advertising is a highly competitive and lucrative business for anyone involved, and creative directors are certainly not the ones to miss out on the financial perks. There are a lot of opportunities to show your worth, and as a creative director, you can make anything between $87,869 to $169,072 a year, depending on your location, the size and reputation of your agency, your experience in the field, and the results your work brings.

  • Average Salary: $137,779
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Graphic Design Manager


Graphic design managers are creative and artistic by nature. Their main purpose is to manage the graphics and design teams and/or departments. They get to apply the artistic nature of theirs in a corporate environment.

Some of the responsibilities and duties that they execute in this capacity include developing various design strategies, managing the design team, collaborating with the product and marketing team to gain more insight, presenting further design ideas and improving current designs and graphics, and evaluating design performance of the team or juniors. Essential skills required to be successful at this position are artistic innovation, conflict management, leadership, interpersonal, and communication.

To successfully qualify for this position, employers usually require a master's degree in graphic design, visual arts, or similar field. Moreover, prior work experience in a related position will be advantageous. The average hourly pay for the position is $30.27, which amounts to over $63,000 annually. The career is also projected to see growth in the near future.

  • Average Salary: $66,975
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

Freelance Art Director


The Freelance Art Director helps to turn artistic vision into cinematic reality in a film or video project. They are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions-working hand in hand with the production designer to show its visual identity.

Typically, you need to possess a bachelor's degree in an art or design majors such as fine art, visual communications, or digital media to become a freelance art director. However, it will be best to have several years of work experience in graphic design, photography, illustration, and direction.

The graduates who gravitate in this field end up laying claim to annual earnings at $58,250. The current median pay for a Freelance Art Director ranges from $42,550 to $74,515 in the U.S. However, this figure can vary significantly depending upon your experience and skills.

  • Average Salary: $85,453
  • Degree: Bachelor's Degree

States With The Most Art Director Jobs

Mouse over a state to see the number of active art director jobs in each state. The darker areas on the map show where art directors earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.

Average Salary: Job Openings:

Number Of Art Director Jobs By State

Art Director Education

Art Director Majors

14.4 %

Art Director Degrees


74.6 %


15.3 %


5.9 %

Top Colleges for Art Directors

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




2. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition




3. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




4. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition




5. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

In-State Tuition




6. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition




7. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition




8. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL • Private

In-State Tuition




9. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition




10. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition




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, 11.2% of art directors listed graphic design on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and creativity are important as well.

  • Graphic Design, 11.2%
  • Art Direction, 7.2%
  • Creative Concepts, 7.1%
  • Sketch, 7.0%
  • Adobe Creative Suite, 5.5%
  • Other Skills, 62.0%

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 diversity

Art Director Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among art directors, 42.6% of them are women, while 57.4% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among art directors is White, which makes up 67.2% of all art directors.

  • The most common foreign language among art directors is Spanish at 47.9%.

Online Courses For Art Director That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  

1. Visual Design (Part Time)


Gain the vocabulary and tools to tackle diverse design challenges on the job. Kickstart your portfolio and create beautiful, responsive designs for the web. This course is offered in person and live online, in a remote classroom setting...

2. Design of Everyday Things


This course provides a summary of key concepts from the first two chapters of The Design of Everyday Things (Revised and Expanded Edition, November 2013) by Don Norman. It's intended to be enjoyable and informative for anyone curious about design: everyday people, technical people, designers, and non-designers alike...

3. ART of the MOOC: Public Art and Pedagogy


Students of this course may try their hand at their own public art interventions, or simply focus on learning from the theory of public practice and its recent history. Designed by artist and Duke professor, Pedro Lasch, and co-taught by Creative Time artistic director, Nato Thompson, this course presents public culture and art in their radically reinenvented contemporary forms. The lectures link major developments of recent decades to wider topics like spatial politics, everyday social...

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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, California, Oregon, and Iowa. Art directors make the most in Washington with an average salary of $116,811. Whereas in California and Oregon, they would average $110,627 and $108,462, respectively. While art directors would only make an average of $104,474 in Iowa, 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:
Location Quotient:

2. Oregon

Total Art Director Jobs: 114
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. California

Total Art Director Jobs: 874
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Art Directors

How Do Art Directors Rate Their Jobs?

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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 $79,894. J Walter Thompson follows up with an average salary of $93,168, and then comes Ogilvy with an average of $83,201. 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 Chico's FAS, Randstad North America, Inc., and JPL

Most Common Employers For Art Director

RankCompanyAverage SalaryHourly RateJob Openings
5Condé Nast$121,587$58.4622
9Goodby Silverstein & Partners$100,204$48.1737
10The Integer Group$98,992$47.5927

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.

Art Director Videos

Becoming an Art Director FAQs

Production Designer Vs. Art Director

A production designer is a person who focuses on the overall visual representation of the story and works closely with the director, while an art director works more closely with the crew and support staff to ensure that tasks are carried out to turn the production designer's vision into reality.

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.

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.

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.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Being An Art Director?

The pros and cons of being an art director relate to creativity, leadership, and long working hours. Here are the top pros and cons of being an art director:


  • Creativity and freedom

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.

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