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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

  • $56,056

    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 jobs

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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 Jan 05, 2015 $194,740
Art Director Rag & Bone Industries LLC New York, NY May 01, 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 LLC New York, NY Feb 02, 2015 $175,000

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Top Skills for An Art Director

CompanyWebsiteAdobePhotoshopCreativeConceptsLayoutBrochuresPhotographyGraphicDesignCorporateIdentityVideoLogoDesignAdobeIllustratorPhotoShootsWebsiteDesignArtDirectionAdobeIndesignPromotionalMaterialsWebSitePressChecksCreativeDirectionMac

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Top Art Director Skills

  1. Company Website
  2. Adobe Photoshop
  3. Creative Concepts
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Design, develop, and maintain company website and site graphics.
  • Used Apple Macintosh computer and Adobe software (Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Quark Express).
  • Provided fresh and innovative creative concepts and designs for this nationally published magazine.
  • Create and designed layout prototypes to tangible products.
  • Designed customized layouts for special reports, and booklets and brochures for special events.

Top Art Director Employers

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