Visuals can help tell stories, create emotions, and, most of all, inform and sell products and services.
An art director is a person who has skills and qualifications to help create them.
With the wide use of technological design tools and digital devices, art directors should combine their artistic talents with computer proficiency.
The job of an art director incorporates elements of business, fine art, journalism, and entertainment, depending on the specific visual platform.
Article Table of Contents
What Does an Art Director Do
Art directors oversee the visual style and layouts of digital presentations, television programs, print publications, plays, and movies.
They use their abilities to manage, plan, create and improvise.
- Develop the overall style of a film, television program, publication or advertising campaign.
- Discuss the plans, needs, and proposals with clients.
- Come up with the best visual representation of an idea or concept.
- Decide which design elements, such as art, photographs, the appearance of text to use in a representation.
- Supervise the design team, including the graphics, sets, and exhibit designers.
- Review, direct, or approve revisions to the design team work product.
- Set up schedules, plans, and budgets to complete projects.
- Submit the finished product to clients for approval.
The responsibilities of an art director can be different in various types of settings or projects.
Movie, television, or theatrical art directors consult with producers and directors to understand the desired staging or set.
On the other hand, art directors in print and online media handle printed text, photographs, and other imagery.
Art directors propose and develop innovative and catchy layouts and presentations for television and film directors, publishers, and advertisers.
Depending on the workplace, art directors use their creative skills to work with three-dimensional objects, displays, patterns, colors, and shapes.
However, art directors also need to determine the angles for the photos and how to use different design or media platforms.
Art directors should listen actively and efficiently to understand the theme, message, or image the client needs to convey.
Therefore, they need to ask the right questions, convey and justify the ideas clearly and provide specific instructions to the design team.
Art directors should provide guidance, answers to questions, and vision to team members.
Art directors should know how to adapt the designs to new platforms.
They should be able to create displays and images from a variety of objects when some of them are unavailable.
Art directors usually work on many projects at a time and have to meet deadlines.
According to O*NET, 89% of art directors deal with time pressure daily.
They also need to create schedules and delegate tasks.
How to Become an Art Director
Aspiring art directors need a college education in an art-related area and to demonstrate designing skills.
Typically, they start as members of a design team, in a set crew, or among publishing staff, depending on the workplace.
Training and Qualifications
Art directors usually have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, art, or design.
As O*NET reports, three in four art directors have a bachelor’s degree.
Some may go for a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts, which is 17% of all art directors, as per O*NET.
Art directors in a business setting can study marketing and business.
Others can learn web design, computer science, art history, and theater.
Art directors can gain experience working in positions related to art and design.
Usually, these are graphic designers, photographers, fine artists, editors, etc.
Artists and photographers can work as freelancers and submit work for approval and consideration.
Taking part in or managing theater plays and programs at schools, community theaters, or places of worship can also bring experience.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, art directors need at least five years of work in art or design-related occupations.
Just like other professionals in art and graphic areas, art directors need to have a portfolio.
The collection of designs or photographs can demonstrate their skills and abilities to clients and employers.
Art directors typically work full-time, but with approaching deadlines, they may need to work in the evenings or on weekends.
Art directors in a theatrical setting usually work on weekends and in the evenings most of the time.
In the live TV field, they have to work whenever the program airs.
According to the US BLS, the employment rate for art directors will grow by 2% until 2024.
Compared to other occupations with 7% growth, this is slower overall.
However, the wide use of social media, internet, mobile, and computer platforms has reduced the popularity of print media in general.
The most positive prospects come to those who are skillful in designing on digital platforms.
In 2014, almost half of all art directors were self-employed.
As of May 2015, art directors made $101,900 per year, according to the BLS.
The top 10% earned $172,900.
PayScale reports that art directors can advance to higher positions such as creative directors, senior art directors, marketing directors, etc.
Art directors help clients and employers produce visuals and images that convey ideas and influence consumers and audiences.
To be successful at this, they need to listen, plan, lead, and guide the design team.
With the development of technology, the employment rate growth is behind all the other occupations.
However, while the demand is low in the print media area, art directors are sought-after in the digital and online fields.