Magazines, newspapers, advertising, marketing, publishing, fashion, internet, product packaging, and media (including movie, television, and video game productions) all look to the Art Director to produce and approve the style of their images. An Art Director is responsible for the overall design, and most times they must direct a team to help develop the artwork and layouts for an upcoming project. But the Art Director job description is more than just having the final say on an image before it is released to the public.
Art Director Job Description
Any given image or visual design might be created by several artists but it is the sole responsibility of the Art Director to bring the pieces together to make one cohesive finished product. When any medium is ready to put out their product they need to be sure that it appeals to their target audience. This means that the Art Director needs to ensure that the intended message is conveyed through the use of visual communication, proper mood stimulation, contrasting features, and even a connection on a psychological (perhaps even subliminal) level.
- Perhaps the most difficult task that the Art Director faces is to translate this desired mood or concept into a visual facsimile. Sometimes the ideas assigned are underdeveloped, in which case the Art Director must find a way to achieve the required effect with little to no guidance on how to get there.
- The Art Director, his or her co-workers, and the client(s) must brainstorm collectively in order to get a final product that can be used, otherwise weeks or even months can be wasted.
- Finalizing and solidifying the group’s imaginative collaboration while working within the constraints of deadlines, conflicting opinions of individual group members, and limited resources is the responsibility of the Art Director.
- The Art Director must make sure that all decision-making is done with the brand always at the forefront.
- An Art Director must be resilient to timelines and requests that are constantly changing.
- The Art Director must determine one visual message and maintain it throughout all the creative materials.
In different fields, the title of Art Director might take on a slightly alternate meaning and have other responsibilities. For instance, in advertising an Art Director might not be the head of the art department at all. Modern advertising practices tend to have the finished product come about as a result of the work done by the Art Director and a copywriter working in tandem. The Art Director may be primarily responsible for the visual aspects, and the copywriter for the textual material, but each may have input and hands-on work on the others efforts. In advertising this collaboration often has positive outcomes on the work since the text and the visual imagery enhances the others meaning or intent. In small advertising companies the Art Director/copywriter team might also take on production responsibilities such as printing. Larger companies usually have the Art Director/copywriter team overseen by a position such as the Senior Media or Chief Creative Director, and the other responsibilities are handled by designers, artists, and developers (which the Art Director might have to oversee).
In the film industry the Art Director works directly under the Production designer and works collaboratively with the Set Decorator. Their main responsibilities are for assigning tasks to personnel (such as the Art Department Coordinator and the Construction Coordinator) and keeping track of the art department budget and scheduling.
In publishing an Art Director generally works with the publication’s editors. As with advertising, the Art Director works collaboratively with the editor. However, each position tends to stick with his or her own respective responsibilities; the Art Director deals with the visuals and the editor the textual content.
Art Director Education Requirements and Training
Good Art Directors should have knowledge of graphic design. But, it might not be necessary for an Art Director to be able to draw or render hand-made layouts due to the fact that practically all but the most preliminary rough drafts are done on the computer. Art Director Education requirements generally revolve around the applicant having a Bachelor’s degree in art, fine arts, or a design field.
But for those wondering how to become an Art Director, even with a degree in hand most employers look for individuals with 5 years or more work experience in a related occupation before hiring someone for the Art Director position. Related occupations include graphic designers, industrial designers, illustrators, copy editors, set designers, photographers, or some kind of art or design position.
The applicant should have a developed portfolio that demonstrates his or her artistic abilities. This shows the employer what he or she can bring to the position. Not only does this help the employer, but it also helps the employer’s clients when work is being contracted out. It can help the client feel confident that the Art Director can meet their objective and remain true to their brand.
Those seeking to enter the Art Director field should look into taking any freelance work in order to help develop their portfolio. Being open-minded and taking on different kinds of projects (even ones that may seem unrelated to their field) can provide valuable experience and diversify their portfolio. A background in marketing and communications, along with some understanding of business and production skills, will also help to integrate more easily into a wider range of employment opportunities.
The best training for the Art Director is on-the-job. With experience one will learn: how to be professional, punctuality, effective time management, team collaboration, work ethics, and how to take constructive criticism. Confidence, talent, and good social skills will help a prospective Art Director go a long way.
Art Director Salary
The average Art Director salary according to Payscale.com (last updated on July 2015) is currently around $60,263 per year, or $25/hour.
- The top 10% in the field make approximately $93,000.
- The top 75th percentile makes $76,000.
- As mentioned above the median salary for this position is $60,263.
- The bottom 25th percentile makes $48,000.
- The bottom 10% makes $39,000.
The Median of all compensation gauged by years of experience is as follows:
- Entry Level (0-5 years) earns $49,000.
- Mid-Career (5-10 years) earns $62,000.
- Experienced (10-20 years) and Late-Career (+20 years) both earn $68,000.
Art Director Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (as of 2012) this job is expected to increase 3% by 2022, rising about 2,200 jobs. This is lower than the average for all occupations. In 2012 there were 74,800 jobs with the title of Art Director. Around 15% of Art Directors find work with advertising and public relations firms as of 2 years ago. As stated earlier others find work for newspapers, magazines, and media industries.
However the Art Director Job Outlook does not appear to have any chance of decreasing as graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, and other needs for design artwork and layouts will be in demand as internet companies revenues continue to rise. But the rise in Internet revenue and the importance of online technologies has changed what it means to be an Art Director; it is no longer one-dimensional. Art Directors are expected to know about print, Web, tablets, and social media. Because of the ever-changing technology landscape, be prepared to see the role of Art Director continue to evolve.
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