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Become A Designer/Art Director

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Working As A Designer/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

  • $83,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Designer/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 A Designer/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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Average Length of Employment
Art Director 4.2 years
Creative Director 3.9 years
Creative Designer 2.9 years
Top Careers Before Designer/Art Director
Art Director 22.3%
Designer 11.0%
Internship 3.1%
Artist 2.2%
Top Careers After Designer/Art Director
Art Director 21.4%
Designer 5.7%
Owner 2.1%

Do you work as a Designer/Art Director?

Designer/Art Director Demographics

Gender

Male

53.4%

Female

37.7%

Unknown

8.9%
Ethnicity

White

58.5%

Hispanic or Latino

18.1%

Black or African American

9.7%

Asian

9.4%

Unknown

4.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

48.0%

French

12.7%

Korean

8.8%

Mandarin

5.9%

Russian

2.9%

Chinese

2.9%

German

2.9%

Japanese

2.9%

Arabic

2.9%

Italian

2.9%

Swedish

1.0%

Portuguese

1.0%

Ukrainian

1.0%

Albanian

1.0%

Norwegian

1.0%

Cantonese

1.0%

Polish

1.0%
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Designer/Art Director Education

Schools

School of Visual Arts

13.9%

Savannah College of Art and Design

7.6%

Pratt Institute-Main

7.4%

Art Center College of Design

7.2%

Academy of Art University

7.0%

Fashion Institute of Technology

7.0%

Syracuse University

4.9%

Parsons the New School for Design

4.3%

College for Creative Studies

4.0%

University of Texas at Austin

4.0%

Columbia College Chicago

3.8%

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

3.8%

New York University

3.4%

Rhode Island School of Design

3.4%

University of the Arts

3.1%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.1%

Columbus College of Art and Design

3.1%

Ringling College of Art and Design

3.1%

Art Institute of California - Inland

2.9%

Art Institute of Colorado

2.7%
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Majors

Graphic Design

48.5%

Fine Arts

13.2%

Design And Visual Communication

8.5%

Photography

3.6%

Communication

3.0%

Computer Applications

3.0%

Advertising

2.1%

Business

2.0%

Marketing

1.8%

Graphic Communications

1.7%

Theatre

1.7%

Education

1.5%

Animation

1.5%

Architecture

1.4%

Visual And Performing Arts

1.3%

Journalism

1.3%

Interior Design

1.2%

Computer Science

1.0%

Public Relations

0.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

55.8%

Other

19.2%

Masters

11.5%

Associate

9.0%

Certificate

3.3%

Diploma

1.0%

Doctorate

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$83,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$50,000
Min 10%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$137,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
ServiceNow
Highest Paying City
Beaverton, OR
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
4.0 years
How much does a Designer/Art Director make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Designer/Art Director in the United States is $83,249 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $50,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $138,000.

Real Designer/Art Director Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Art Director: Brand Design NIKE, Inc. Beaverton, OR Jan 15, 2015 $150,000
Design Director/Art Director Base Design Inc. New York, NY Apr 17, 2015 $150,000
Art Director, Creative Design Directv LLC New York, NY Sep 10, 2014 $130,686 -
$142,280
Art Director-Design Maesa, LLC New York, NY Oct 22, 2015 $125,000
Art Director-Jordan Brand Design NIKE, Inc. Beaverton, OR Nov 04, 2013 $125,000
Design Director/Art Director Base Design Inc. New York, NY Sep 05, 2016 $115,000
Director of Art & Design Belvedere Property Management, LLC New York, NY May 29, 2012 $107,021
Art Director-Multimedia Visual Design Huge, LLC New York, NY Sep 29, 2015 $105,000
Art and Design Director Capitol Services, Inc. Falls Church, VA Sep 28, 2016 $90,000
Art Director-Multimedia Visual Design Huge, LLC New York, NY Dec 01, 2014 $90,000 -
$125,000
Art Director/Designer Stein IAS Americas, LLC New York, NY Jun 01, 2015 $80,000
Design Specialist-Art Director Title Boy Films, Inc. CA Sep 30, 2015 $80,000
Art Director/Designer Lurline Bay LLC New York, NY Jan 01, 2016 $80,000
Art Director-Animation/Design Superfad Culver City, CA Jun 16, 2011 $80,000
Art Director/Web Designer Cmgrp, Inc. New York, NY Oct 10, 2011 $75,000 -
$95,000
Art Director, Creative Design Directv LLC New York, NY Jul 24, 2015 $73,000 -
$140,000
Art/Design Director A.M. Player, Inc. Arcadia, CA Sep 15, 2014 $64,355
Art Director/Designer Technicolor Inc.-(MPC Group) Santa Monica, CA Jan 31, 2012 $60,445 -
$85,000
Designer/Art Director Dist, Inc. Pasadena, CA Sep 20, 2012 $60,000
Art Director-Visual Design Trek Bicycle Corporation Waterloo, WI Oct 02, 2012 $58,926 -
$80,000
Art Metal Work Designer Metalworks, Inc. New York, NY Mar 24, 2014 $58,436
Scenic Designer and Art Director AMPA Entertainment Richmond, VA Dec 01, 2011 $46,987
Scenic Designer and Art Director AMPA Entertainment, Inc. Richmond, VA Dec 01, 2011 $46,987
Art/Design Director Merchantadvantage, LLC Miami, FL Jul 18, 2009 $46,600 -
$48,500
Designer/Art Director Dist, Inc. Pasadena, CA Nov 26, 2014 $46,571
Art Designer China Times Printing, Inc. San Gabriel, CA Apr 01, 2011 $45,000 -
$49,649

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Top Skills for A Designer/Art Director

  1. Production Artists
  2. Company Website
  3. Adobe Photoshop
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Managed, directed and mentored team of designers, animators, writers and production artists.
  • Designed and supervised company website.
  • Selected and color-corrected artwork leveraging expertise with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Collaborated and managed a team of graphic designers to enhance brand identity and continuity.
  • Identify target audience and demographic for each product and maintain consistency and integrity throughout product design.

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Top 10 Best States for Designer/Art Directors

  1. New York
  2. California
  3. Georgia
  4. Washington
  5. Oregon
  6. Utah
  7. New Jersey
  8. Illinois
  9. Massachusetts
  10. New Mexico
  • (513 jobs)
  • (913 jobs)
  • (375 jobs)
  • (142 jobs)
  • (69 jobs)
  • (37 jobs)
  • (105 jobs)
  • (198 jobs)
  • (165 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)

Top Designer/Art Director Employers

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Jobs From Top Designer/Art Director Employers

Designer/Art Director Videos

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