What is an Art Director’s Role?

Art director is an occupational title used in different sectors, including advertising and marketing, film and TV production and in publishing companies. They are concerned with the impact of design to a given project, giving due attention to images, graphics, movement and style flourishes. Art directors focus on communicating a unified vision of the brand or project using various design elements to convey a solid message. They make the final decision on art-related concerns, and they have a lead role in brainstorming and getting the team and other departments to contribute and collaborate on the project.

Different Roles in Different Sectors

The title applies to mid-level jobs in different sectors, and the actual functions may vary, depending on the sector.

In publishing houses, the art director is in charge of creating cover art for books, layouts and designs of all pages. If the company publishes magazines and periodicals, the art department, led by the director, will prepare layouts of each page, including the all-important magazine cover. Since the publishing industry has expanded to the internet, input of the art department is required for the design of web pages and social media content.

In movie and TV production, the director of art plays a collaborative role, along with other creative teams, in set design, makeup and costume choices. In advertising, marketing and public relations, art directors play key roles in visualizing the desired message for the target audience and creating the appropriate visuals to convey the intent of the message. This is also a collaborative function with graphic designers, copywriters and account managers contributing their input.

Academic and Professional Track for Art Directors

In most cases, a bachelor’s degree in art or design and experience in the industry are the minimum requirements to be considered as creative director. Previous work experience must be directly related to the field such as graphic designer, artist for fine arts, photographer, writer, web designer or editorial staff for periodicals and online publications. A master’s degree may boost your credentials, but solid work experience in the field will do just as well.

Leveraging your Credentials to Get a Director’s Job

Build your portfolio, and keep it updated. Regardless of your current status in the company, make sure to keep that portfolio updated and ready for inspection for presentation. The portfolio is a showcase of your skills, preferences and growth as an art-focused individual. Using film, audio recordings or collage albums, maintain a record of your creative inputs on specific projects.

Develop your leadership skills whenever the opportunity arises. Art directors should have the ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds with different skills to succeed in managing media campaigns, design projects and similar challenges. You should have adequate people skills to manage temperamental artists, corporate bosses and others with a stake in the campaigns or projects. Network with your peers, and learn everything there is to learn about your field.

Art directors are in a position to influence the public by controlling how visuals are presented and perceived by the audience. This is a challenging job that requires academic preparation and a history of progressive work experience with supervisory functions. It is one of the best compensated art-related positions with anticipated growth rate placed at 2 percent between 2014 and 2024 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For creative types, becoming an art director could be an interesting and viable option.

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