What do Art Directors do?
Your Guide to One of Advertising’s Coolest Jobs
Written by Katherine Pendrill
Ask any group of kids what they want to be when they grow up, and you’ll most likely hear a bunch of hyper six-year-olds hollering about how they’re destined to become an actor, a famous movie director, or a fashion designer. But ask them if anyone wants to become an Art Director and you’re guaranteed to be met with uncomfortable silence a lot of blank stares.
The truth is, being an Art Director is one of the coolest jobs out there (sorry, movie star is overrated), but most people have no idea exactly what it is. So if you’re 25 (or 55) and you still have no idea what an Art Director is, here’s a handy little explanation.
As a quick Google search will tell you, an Art Director is the person responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, television production, and more. While straightforward enough, it’s also clear that the role of an Art Director can vary wildly based on the industry and company. In the world of advertising, it’s easiest to understand the complex role of an Art Director by thinking about it as both a discipline, and a key part of any creative team. Don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you.
In most advertising agencies, the role of an Art Director is to create the overall design for a campaign and direct others who develop artwork, images, or layouts. In other words, Art Directors are the ones responsible for determining the overall tone and style for a project, and for ultimately guiding an audience through the information that’s being presented to them. Put simply, they’re the ones who take something like a Spotify ad about the new Justin Bieber song and make it look like 2018’s biggest banger (instead of something you roll your eyes at).
Collaboration Is Not Just A Buzzword
While the role of an Art Director involves some managerial responsibilities, anyone who thinks of themselves as the creative head honcho is doomed for failure (or at least a stiff talking to from the CD). This is because Art Directors are just one half of a creative team that works to turn ideas into reality. Working hand-in-hand with Copywriters — as well as Strategists, Account Executives, Media Buyers, and more — Art Directors are responsible for concepting and creating every aspect of a campaign. While the Copywriter is generally in charge of text, this doesn’t mean that the Art Director can’t offer input and ideas on the copy. In short, collaboration isn’t just a buzzword in advertising, it’s part of the job.
The Fine Print
So now you know what Art Directors actually do all day, but what about actually getting the job in the first place? If Art Director sounds like your dream career (good choice by the way), you’ll need to cross a few things off the checklist before you start your job hunt.
At most agencies, Art Directors are required to have a thorough knowledge of the subject, meaning a degree in Art Direction, graphic design, or advertising can’t hurt. But in addition to education, agencies also want to see that you have experience and work to show for it in the form of a eye-caching portfolio. If you’re looking to start an Art Direction career quick, your best bet is to kill three birds with one stone by opting for an intensive Art Direction program like the one offered by Miami Ad School Toronto. With hands-on classes, built-in agency internships, and portfolio-building projects, you’ll be on track to start your Art Direction career before the ink on your diploma is even dry.
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