An art director's duty will vary depending on the line of industry involved. However, most of the responsibilities will revolve in taking charge of the artistic direction and decisions in a project or campaign. Most of the time, it is an art director's call to conceptualize and bring a vision to completion and take the lead in coordinating with various artists and creative staff. Furthermore, an art director must oversee the progress of workflow and workforce, develop plans and strategies, and approve or provide suggestions in every creative output from staff.

Art Director Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real art director resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Manage and maintain hardware and software of Macintosh computers and the network.
  • Lead the conception, design and execution of cross channel initiatives for healthcare and pharmaceutical clients.
  • Launch and manage an internet campus with regional, national and international participants.
  • Design, implement, and manage online marketing programs focusing on building awareness and customer acquisition.
  • Manage resolution and refinement of visual identity to establish superiority within the marketplace for publications and supporting media.
  • Spearhead the successful transition from QuarkXPress to InDesign page layout applications.
  • Utilize working knowledge of HTML, CSS and PHP in the creation of web sites and social media campaigns.
  • Design mobile application prototypes using Photoshop and InDesign.
  • Conceptualize and successfully develop numerous creative visual concepts for online sites, print materials, and PowerPoint presentations.
  • Screen print artwork on apparel to fill orders.
Art Director Traits
Communication skills shows that you are able to relay your thoughts, opinions and ideas clearly to those around you.
Creativity involves thinking about a task or problem in an entirely new or different light.
Leadership skills directly correlate with a person's ability to lead others toward success or an accomplishment.

Art Director Job Description

Perhaps the hardest question to answer when deciding on a career as an art director is "should I become an art director?" You might find this info to be helpful. When compared to other jobs, art director careers are projected to have a growth rate described as "little or no change" at 1% from 2018 through 2028. This is in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What's more, is that the projected number of opportunities that are predicted to become available for a art director by 2028 is 900.

An art director annual salary averages $74,672, which breaks down to $35.9 an hour. However, art directors can earn anywhere from upwards of $47,000 to $117,000 a year. This means that the top-earning art directors make $70,000 more than the lowest-earning ones.

As is the case with most jobs, it takes work to become an art director. Sometimes people change their minds about their career after working in the profession. That's why we looked into some other professions that might help you find your next opportunity. These professions include a senior graphic designer, graphic design manager, visual designer, and lead graphic designer.

Art Director Jobs You Might Like

Art Director Resume Examples

Art Director Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 14% of Art Directors are proficient in Graphic Design, Creative Concepts, and Adobe Creative Suite. They’re also known for soft skills such as Communication skills, Creativity, and Leadership skills.

We break down the percentage of Art Directors that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Graphic Design, 14%

    Oversee the graphic design department for developing catalog and design for collegiate and university-level competitive sports apparel.

  • Creative Concepts, 12%

    Produced creative concepts that transcended digital tactics that immediately drew public emotions, and directly affected and positively engaged the audience.

  • Adobe Creative Suite, 7%

    Demonstrate a high level of proficiency in design, web and multimedia software and applications, such as Adobe Creative Suite.

  • Layout, 6%

    Coordinate, layout and design several full-length 3D-animated instructional videos of surgical procedures concerning total knee replacement through orthopedic implantation.

  • Art Direction, 6%

    Created typographical designs and packaging concepts for various fragrance/cosmetic clients and assisted the other Art Directors with design/typographical needs.

  • Company Website, 6%

    Collaborated with Digital Specialist to produce dynamic on-line campaigns to drive traffic to the company website and department intranet mini-sites.

"graphic design," "creative concepts," and "adobe creative suite" aren't the only skills we found art directors list on their resumes. In fact, there's a whole list of art director responsibilities that we found, including:

  • The most important skills for an art director to have in this position are communication skills. In this excerpt that we gathered from a art director resume, you'll understand why: "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." According to resumes we found, communication skills can be used by a art director in order to "assisted clients with existing as well as new projects, utilizing proven communication, design, typesetting, and layout skills. "
  • While it may not be the most important skill, we found that many art director duties rely on creativity. This example from a art director explains why: "art directors must be able to come up with interesting and innovative ideas to develop advertising campaigns, set designs, or layout options." This resume example is just one of many ways art directors are able to utilize creativity: "managed creative design concept and execution, including layout and photo art direction for print and web. "
  • Leadership skills is also an important skill for art directors to have. This example of how art directors use this skill comes from a art director resume, "art directors must be able to organize, direct, and motivate other artists" Read this excerpt from a resume to understand how vital it is to their everyday roles and responsibilities, "served on the leadership team as one of the core staff members of a new church plant in the richmond area. "
  • A thorough review of lots of resumes revealed to us that "time-management skills" is important to completing art director responsibilities. This resume example shows just one way art directors use this skill: "balancing competing priorities and multiple projects while meeting strict deadlines is critical for art directors." Here's an example of how this skill is used from a resume that represents typical art director tasks: "provided proposal layout and design for million-dollar corporate contracts under extremely tight deadlines. "
  • See the full list of art director skills.

    Before becoming an art director, 74.6% earned their bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree, 5.9% art directors went for the extra education. If you're wanting to pursue this career, it may be possible to be successful with a high school degree. In fact, most art directors have a college degree. But about one out of every eight art directors didn't attend college at all.

    Those art directors who do attend college, typically earn either graphic design degrees or fine arts degrees. Less commonly earned degrees for art directors include design and visual communication degrees or communication degrees.

    When you're ready to become an art director, you might wonder which companies hire art directors. According to our research through art director resumes, art directors are mostly hired by Cornerstone OnDemand, Robert Half International, and Aegis. Now is a good time to apply as Cornerstone OnDemand has 33 art directors job openings, and there are 10 at Robert Half International and 4 at Aegis.

    Since salary is important to some art directors, it's good to note that they are figured to earn the highest salaries at Dell, Microsoft, and Atlantic Media. If you were to take a closer look at Dell, you'd find that the average art director salary is $165,648. Then at Microsoft, art directors receive an average salary of $154,545, while the salary at Atlantic Media is $150,532.

    View more details on art director salaries across the United States.

    The industries that art directors fulfill the most roles in are the media and retail industries. But the highest art director annual salary is in the media industry, averaging $104,662. In the technology industry they make $95,162 and average about $76,344 in the manufacturing industry. In conclusion, art directors who work in the media industry earn a 49.0% higher salary than art directors in the retail industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious art directors are:

      What Senior Graphic Designers Do

      A senior graphic designer oversees all of the designing operations in a company, from conceptualization to production. One of their primary responsibilities is to ensure that all designs produced are according to a client's preference and brand. They also encourage fresh ideas from the team, communicate with clients or representatives, and manage the schedules to meet all deadlines. Furthermore, as a senior graphic designer, they are responsible for leading and mentoring a team of graphic designers, all in the joint effort to reach project goals.

      In this section, we compare the average art director annual salary with that of a senior graphic designer. Typically, senior graphic designers earn a $4,137 lower salary than art directors earn annually.

      Even though art directors and senior graphic designers have vast differences in their careers, a few of the skills required to do both jobs are similar. For example, both careers require graphic design, creative concepts, and adobe creative suite in the day-to-day roles.

      As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because an art director responsibility requires skills such as "design projects," "internet," "production artists," and "staff members." Whereas a senior graphic designer is skilled in "project management," "internal clients," "twitter," and "javascript." So if you're looking for what truly separates the two careers, you've found it.

      Senior graphic designers tend to make the most money in the retail industry by averaging a salary of $80,126. In contrast, art directors make the biggest average salary of $104,662 in the media industry.

      Senior graphic designers tend to reach similar levels of education than art directors. In fact, senior graphic designers are 3.9% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.2% less likely to have a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Graphic Design Manager?

      A graphic design manager is primarily in charge of leading and overseeing the efforts of a graphic design team, ensuring adherence to goals and deadlines. It is their duty to learn and analyze the purpose of design, coordinate staff, liaise with internal and external parties, set goals and objectives, manage schedules, and conceptualize plans. Furthermore, as a graphic design manager, it is essential to lead and encourage teams to reach goals while implementing the company's policies and regulations, including its vision and mission.

      The next role we're going to look at is the graphic design manager profession. Typically, this position earns a lower pay. In fact, they earn a $11,269 lower salary than art directors per year.

      Not everything about these jobs is different. Take their skills, for example. Art directors and graphic design managers both include similar skills like "graphic design," "creative concepts," and "adobe creative suite" on their resumes.

      But both careers also use different skills, according to real art director resumes. While art director responsibilities can utilize skills like "user interface," "creative solutions," "indesign," and "design solutions," some graphic design managers use skills like "project management," "customer service," "graphics department," and "posters."

      It's been discovered that graphic design managers earn lower salaries compared to art directors, but we wanted to find out where graphic design managers earned the most pay. The answer? The manufacturing industry. The average salary in the industry is $65,787. Additionally, art directors earn the highest paychecks in the media with an average salary of $104,662.

      When it comes to the differences in education between the two professions, graphic design managers tend to reach lower levels of education than art directors. In fact, they're 5.7% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.2% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      What technology do you think will become more important and prevalent for Art Directors in the next 3-5 years?

      Scott Foster

      Associate Professor of Studio Art, Chair of Creative Arts Department, Siena College

      Visual interfaces. Visual communication, overall, is where our society is headed. Graphic Art and Design are the following English and Communications majors. Consider that we've gone from a marketplace where a company could thrive without a website to our current situation where growth is impossible without a web or social media presence over the last ten years. While these tools are supported by technology, the user interface is the visual component that mediates between a company and its consumer base. Those that are effectively designed will be the ones that see more use and market presence.Show more

      What technology do you think will become more important and prevalent for Art Directors in the next 3-5 years?

      Mark Charney Ph.D.

      Director, Texas Tech University

      The arts will be rightfully concerned with preservation, so while the zoom platform will continue to be necessary, we will continue to find ways to express art in various media. We will still treasure the stage, but we can bring what we have learned from sharing performances over the computer to the stage, using technology to advance narratives and create opportunities.Show more

      How a Visual Designer Compares

      A visual designer is someone who creates designs for a variety of platforms such as Internet and intranet sites, games, and wearables. The duties of visual designers depend on the specific project or industry in which they are working. Duties include creating user-centered interaction models, working with information technology and business teams to resolve complex issues, and designing logos, icons, and infographics. The qualifications to become a visual designer include possessing strong problem-solving, communication, and negotiation skills and obtaining a bachelor's degree in design.

      The third profession we take a look at is visual designer. On an average scale, these workers bring in higher salaries than art directors. In fact, they make a $7,518 higher salary per year.

      By looking over several art directors and visual designers resumes, we found that both roles utilize similar skills, such as "graphic design," "creative concepts," and "adobe creative suite." But beyond that the careers look very different.

      There are many key differences between these two careers as shown by resumes from each profession. Some of those differences include the skills required to complete responsibilities within each role. As an example of this, an art director is likely to be skilled in "layout," "brochures," "mac," and "creative projects," while a typical visual designer is skilled in "visual design," "online," "interaction design," and "user research."

      Additionally, visual designers earn a higher salary in the telecommunication industry compared to other industries. In this industry, they receive an average salary of $109,356. Additionally, art directors earn an average salary of $104,662 in the media industry.

      Visual designers typically study at similar levels compared with art directors. For example, they're 4.2% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 0.3% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of a Lead Graphic Designer

      A lead graphic designer is responsible for creating, designing, and updating the company's visual aspects. The lead graphic designer works closely with the branding department alongside the advertising and marketing team. It is essential for the lead graphic designer must be creative, willing to think outside the box, and brave to dare novel ideas. The lead graphic designer is also responsible for leading the creative department in accomplishing assigned tasks from management.

      Lead graphic designers tend to earn a lower pay than art directors by about $1,244 per year.

      While their salaries may vary, art directors and lead graphic designers both use similar skills to perform their jobs. Resumes from both professions include skills like "graphic design," "creative concepts," and "adobe creative suite. "

      Even though a few skill sets overlap, there are some differences that are important to note. For one, an art director might have more use for skills like "creative solutions," "style guides," "design projects," and "concept development." Meanwhile, some lead graphic designers might include skills like "project management," "graphics department," "large format," and "product design" on their resume.

      Lead graphic designers earn a higher salary in the retail industry with an average of $80,406. Whereas, art directors earn the highest salary in the media industry.

      In general, lead graphic designers reach lower levels of education when compared to art directors resumes. Lead graphic designers are 5.7% less likely to earn their Master's Degree and 0.2% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.