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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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Design Director
Top Careers After Design Director
Hispanic or Latino10.7%
Black or African American0.5%
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Fashion Institute of Technology30.5%
Savannah College of Art and Design6.1%
School of Visual Arts5.9%
Art Center College of Design5.1%
Parsons the New School for Design5.1%
Rhode Island School of Design4.5%
Rochester Institute of Technology3.7%
New York University3.5%
University of North Texas3.1%
Iowa State University2.9%
Academy of Art University2.7%
University of Southern California2.7%
Florida State University2.7%
University of Texas at Austin2.5%
University of Cincinnati2.3%
Carnegie Mellon University2.3%
Northern Illinois University2.3%
University of California - Los Angeles2.3%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Product Design Director||Facebook, Inc.||Menlo Park, CA||Sep 10, 2015||$250,000|
|Product Design Director||Facebook, Inc.||Menlo Park, CA||Sep 12, 2015||$250,000|
|Product Design Director||Facebook, Inc.||Menlo Park, CA||Jul 15, 2016||$250,000|
|Design Director||Converse, Inc.||New York, NY||Jan 04, 2016||$246,330|
|Design Director-Men's Footwear||Cole Haan LLC||Greenland, NH||Aug 20, 2016||$240,000|
|Senior Design Director||Lands' End, Inc.||Dodgeville, WI||Apr 27, 2016||$225,000|
|Director of Engineering, Physical Design Group||Arm, Inc.||Austin, TX||Mar 16, 2015||$213,000|
|Director of Engineering, Physical Design Group||Arm, Inc.||Austin, TX||Jan 10, 2015||$213,000|
|Director of Technical Design, Appearel Innovation||Tory Burch||New York, NY||Nov 03, 2016||$200,000|
|Design Director-Ready To Wear||Kate Spade LLC||New York, NY||Dec 30, 2016||$200,000|
|Director of Design, Men's Bottoms||Levi Strauss & Co.||San Francisco, CA||Aug 22, 2016||$198,450|
|Design Director||J. Crew Group, Inc.||Islandia, NY||Sep 26, 2016||$187,000|
|Design Director||Dollar Shave Club, Inc.||Marina del Rey, CA||Jun 20, 2016||$185,000|
|Design Director||Dollar Shave Club, Inc.||CA||Mar 02, 2015||$185,000|
|Experience Design Director||Havas Worldwide New York Inc.||New York, NY||Jan 21, 2015||$159,245|
|CD Design DIR||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Jan 21, 2016||$158,600 -
|CD Design DIR||Apple Inc.||Cupertino, CA||Jan 21, 2015||$155,500 -
|Director, Design and Delivery||Marriott Ownership Resorts, Inc.||Orlando, FL||May 25, 2015||$155,000|
|Design Director||Foursquare Labs Inc.||New York, NY||Aug 02, 2015||$155,000 -
|Design Director||Droga5, LLC||New York, NY||Jun 06, 2016||$155,000|
|Mens Apparel Design Director||NIKE, Inc.||Beaverton, OR||Sep 30, 2015||$153,830|
|Design Director||Makeable LLC||New York, NY||Aug 15, 2015||$150,000|
|Director of California Design Center||Aavid Thermalloy, LLC||San Jose, CA||Sep 05, 2015||$123,053 -
|Design Director||Assembled Brands Partner Services LLC||New York, NY||Nov 30, 2015||$120,000 -
|Director, Design Services-Americas||Hyatt Corporation||Chicago, IL||Jan 03, 2016||$120,000|
|Design Director||Toca Boca||New York, NY||Dec 10, 2015||$120,000|
|Design Director||Meyer Davis Studio Inc.||New York, NY||Jun 22, 2015||$120,000|
|Design Director||VF Outdoor, Inc.||Alameda, CA||Feb 16, 2015||$120,000|
|Interactive Design Director||Area 17 Media, LLC||New York, NY||Sep 15, 2015||$120,000|
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