Art Director Job Description

You might not be aware of it, but chances are good that you’re influenced by the work of art directors every day.

Open your favorite magazine or newspaper, and pay attention to the images, artistic style, and tone. Pick up a box of cereal, and look at the colors and the artwork. Take a look at the cover art on a Blue Ray, or your favorite book. All of these things were influenced by art directors.

Art directors develop the visual style and themes used in many of the products that we interact with each day. Advertisements, product packaging, newspapers, magazines, and movies are all examples of things that art directors work with.

Art directors usually oversee a staff of designers, artists, and writers who are responsible for creating their own pieces of the project. The art director communicates the overall direction of the project, and then the artists choose or create artwork, photographs, fonts, and colors that fit within the established direction.

In all cases, art directors need to make sure that their work reaches the right audience. To accomplish this, they work very closely with marketing and sales teams to understand the demographic for a given product.

Art directors work in many different industries, and often choose to specialize. By focusing their careers on a particular medium, they are able to master one area and advertise their services more effectively.

Work Environment and Schedule

Most art directors are self-employed, but there are also many opportunities for employment at advertising firms, newspapers, magazines, and graphic design firms.

Because most of the projects that art directors work on are deadline driven and time sensitive, the working schedule can be irregular. Working nights and weekends to meet deadlines is common.

Art directors spend most of their time working in office environments, but regular travel may be required in cases where a client is based in another state or country.

Self-employed art directors are able to set their own schedules to a certain extent, but are normally at the mercy of their clients’ availability and scheduling demands.

How to Become an Art Director

Most art directors have a bachelor’s degree in art or a related field, but this is an occupation where having relevant work experience and a strong portfolio is more important than the major chosen in college.

In most cases, it takes at least three years (and often many more) to qualify for an art director position. Working as a photographer, illustrator, or graphic designer can give you the opportunity to develop a strong portfolio and get the work experience that you need for advancement.

As your career progresses, your portfolio of work will become the most important factor in your success. Your portfolio has to convince employers that you are exceptional that what you do, and building a strong portfolio is the best way to demonstrate that.

Employment Outlook

Art Director jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Overall Salaries

Art Director salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most art directors make between per year, or per hour.

Updated: 22/01/2011

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