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Become An Artistic Director

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Working As An Artistic 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

  • $86,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Artistic 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 Artistic 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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Artistic Director Demographics

Gender

Female

44.2%

Male

40.6%

Unknown

15.2%
Ethnicity

White

62.6%

Hispanic or Latino

15.4%

Black or African American

11.3%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

37.6%

French

24.4%

German

8.3%

Italian

6.8%

Russian

3.4%

Mandarin

2.4%

Greek

2.4%

Portuguese

2.4%

Japanese

2.4%

Arabic

2.0%

Hindi

1.0%

Filipino

1.0%

Cantonese

1.0%

Tagalog

1.0%

Chinese

1.0%

Polish

1.0%

Turkish

0.5%

Romanian

0.5%

Dutch

0.5%

Korean

0.5%
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Artistic Director Education

Schools

New York University

21.8%

Arizona State University

5.2%

Columbia College Chicago

5.2%

Temple University

5.2%

Florida State University

5.2%

Northwestern University

4.7%

Yale University

4.7%

University of the Arts

4.4%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.8%

The Academy

3.8%

Virginia Commonwealth University

3.8%

Emerson College

3.8%

University of Phoenix

3.8%

Grand Canyon University

3.8%

California Institute of the Arts

3.5%

Ohio State University

3.5%

University of Southern California

3.5%

Berklee College of Music

3.5%

University of Washington

3.5%

Western Michigan University

3.5%
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Majors

Theatre

19.6%

Music

13.4%

Fine Arts

9.9%

Dance

9.0%

Business

6.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

5.3%

Communication

4.8%

Education

4.7%

Photography

3.8%

English

3.3%

Graphic Design

3.1%

Psychology

2.7%

Writing

2.1%

Cosmetology

2.0%

Elementary Education

2.0%

Marketing

1.9%

Entertainment Business

1.9%

Liberal Arts

1.8%

Visual And Performing Arts

1.4%

Management

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

41.9%

Masters

26.1%

Other

19.8%

Associate

4.0%

Certificate

3.3%

Doctorate

3.2%

Diploma

1.2%

License

0.5%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$86,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$40,000
Min 10%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$185,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
State of Alabama
Highest Paying City
Minneapolis, MN
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
4.6 years
How much does an Artistic Director make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Artistic Director in the United States is $86,791 per year or $42 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $40,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $186,000.

Real Artistic Director Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
DVP, Visual Artistic Director Coach, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2014 $225,000
DVP, Visual Artistic Director Coach, Inc. New York, NY Jan 06, 2016 $225,000
Artistic Director Gagosian Gallery Inc. New York, NY Jan 01, 2012 $160,000 -
$220,000
Artistic Director Gagosian Gallery, Inc. New York, NY Dec 31, 2015 $150,000 -
$200,000
Artistic Director Gagosian Gallery, Inc. New York, NY Dec 30, 2013 $150,000 -
$200,000
Director of Artistic Planning Dallas Symphony Association, Inc. Dallas, TX Oct 01, 2010 $140,455
Director GTS-Artists Services Latin America UMG Recordings Inc. Miami Beach, FL Oct 01, 2011 $125,000
Artist (Internal Title: Technical Director) Industrial Light & Magic, A Div of Lucasfilm Enter San Francisco, CA Dec 22, 2012 $118,771
Artistic Director/Restaurant & Bar Deutsch Williams Brooks Derensis and Holland PC New York, NY Sep 17, 2015 $108,566
Artistic Director Gagosian Gallery, Inc. New York, NY Jan 01, 2010 $93,330 -
$200,000
Creative Artist/Director Daily Sports Seoul USA, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Apr 11, 2016 $92,900
Artistic Director Sunfish Technologies, LLC Bal Harbour, FL Sep 10, 2014 $75,000
Artistic Director State of Alabama Ballet, Inc. Birmingham, AL Jul 10, 2014 $75,000
Artistic Director M.E.P.-N.Y. Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $71,167
Creative/Artistic Director Sixseven Productions Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2009 $68,871
Artistic Director State of Alabama Ballet, Inc. Birmingham, AL Jul 01, 2012 $65,000
Artistic Director TPWD Inc. New York, NY Jul 07, 2016 $62,610
Artistic Director & Conductor of The Youth Orchest Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra Association, Inc. Timonium, MD Aug 10, 2011 $60,210
Director of Artistic Planning Musical Arts Association Cleveland, OH Dec 13, 2010 $59,467 -
$130,000
Artistic Director SINO-American Cultural Council, Inc. New York, NY Sep 20, 2015 $50,881
Artistic Director The Eclectic Theatre Company, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2010 $50,088
Assistant Artistic Director Matthew Cohen Design Collective LLC New York, NY Apr 10, 2015 $50,000
Artistic Director Dad's Garage, Inc. Atlanta, GA Jan 01, 2013 $49,700 -
$60,000
Artistic Director The Saint John's Boys' Choir Collegeville, MN Jul 27, 2015 $49,608
Artistic Director The Saint John's Boys' Choir Collegeville, MN Jul 01, 2015 $49,608

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Top Skills for An Artistic Director

  1. Local Businesses
  2. Venues
  3. Company Website
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Created and executed numerous presentations to local businesses to build relationships and gain sponsorships.
  • Present work at nationally and internationally significant performance venues and conferences.
  • Redesigned company website, logo and entire web presence.
  • Initiated and organized community outreach programs and fundraisers.
  • Chartered and established a non-profit organization focused on the education of the arts to K-12 students.

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Top 10 Best States for Artistic Directors

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. District of Columbia
  4. New Jersey
  5. Maryland
  6. Connecticut
  7. Georgia
  8. Nevada
  9. Minnesota
  10. Rhode Island
  • (35 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)

Top Artistic Director Employers

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Jobs From Top Artistic Director Employers

Artistic Director Videos

Day in the Life: Art Director

Career Advice on becoming an Art Director - Animation by Gillian R (Full Version)

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