How to Build a Portfolio

Art Direction 101



Written by Jenai Kershaw

You’re creative, enjoy design and have a great eye for colour and space.
Those are just some of the basic qualities of an art director. Art directors, along with their copywriters, are the creative muscle behind great ideas. They work together to conceptualize and create ads. And as for the salary, how does an annual median wage of $89,000 sound?

The advertising industry is saturated with creatives trying to get their foot in the door. So, what makes one Art Director more hireable than another? The answer is simple: a great portfolio.

Portfolios are hard to create, and even harder to perfect. Working with a copywriter will help elevate your ideas into book-worthy pieces. Finding and highlight your unique creative style can also help seal the deal. You’ll need to start somewhere, so we’ve lined up a few tips to help get started on that great book.

The annual Median wage for an Art Director is $89,000

The Annual Median Wage for an Art Director is $89,000

Widen your Horizons

Just because you’re a gifted photographer, doesn’t mean your portfolio only features photography. Showcase some typography. Experiment with collage. A healthy breadth of work will showcase the full range of your capabilities. Sometimes a little experimentation in different mediums or design can elevate your work to a new level.

AD -Jeremy Pedro.  CW -Rowan El Goweiny.

Who Are You, Anyway?

You might have a great creative vision, but so could 10 other applicants. What sets you apart? Your personality. Show off what makes you special by including passion projects in your book. Add a section about skills and hobbies that might seem unrelated to advertising. Your portfolio is an opportunity to show them person behind the screen, and their potential new hire.

AD – Jeremy Pedro. 

Update and Upgrade

As an Art Director, you must be ruthless with your work. Be willing to cut the stuff that’s no longer relevant. Unfortunately, that does include your High School Council sweaters or your cousin’s obscure streetwear brand. Make sure you constantly upgrade your portfolio with new work. Think of it as a seasonal change, rather than an annual one.

AD – Ela Kallonen, Runda Dong.  CW – Maddie Rosenberg.

AD – Diego Lopez.  CW – Hayley McOstrich.

Don’t Go Through It Alone

There’s always value in showing your book to other people. Find your mentors and get their feedback. Feedback is a gift that will help you improve. Find copywriters who can help you with your pieces or build new ones together. Your peers might have tips and feedback from their mentors, who can help you make your book better.

AD – Diego Lopez.  CW – Hayley McOstrich.

If you’re interested in being an Art Director, look into our 2-year Art Direction course. We’ll help you build award-winning work, great book and confidence in your unique, creative skills.

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