Art Director

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Job Outlook:
Faster than average
Education: Bachelor's degree
Salary
High: $207,060.00
Average: $124,310.00
Hourly
Average: $59.76

What they do:

Formulate design concepts and presentation approaches for visual productions and media, such as print, broadcasting, video, and film. Direct workers engaged in artwork or layout design.

On the job, you would:

  • Work with creative directors to develop design solutions.
  • Present final layouts to clients for approval.
  • Manage own accounts and projects, working within budget and scheduling requirements.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Art directors must be able to listen to and speak with staff and clients to ensure that they understand employees’ ideas and clients’ desires for advertisements, publications, or movie sets.

Creativity. Art directors must be able to come up with interesting and innovative ideas to develop advertising campaigns, set designs, or layout options.

Leadership skills. Art directors must be able to organize, direct, and motivate other artists. They need to articulate their visions to artists and oversee the work as it progresses.

Resourcefulness. Art directors must be able to adapt their latest designs to the changing technology used in their industry.

Time-management skills. Balancing competing priorities and multiple projects while meeting strict deadlines is critical for art directors.

Personality

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

93% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
90% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
85% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
84% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
84% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
82% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
82% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
80% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
78% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
77% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
76% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
75% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
73% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
72% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
70% Social Orientation  -  Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Strengths

100% Artistic  -  Work involves creating original visual artwork, performances, written works, food, or music for a variety of media, or applying artistic principles to the design of various objects and materials. Artistic occupations are often associated with visual arts, applied arts and design, performing arts, music, creative writing, media, or culinary art.
89% Enterprising  -  Work involves managing, negotiating, marketing, or selling, typically in a business setting, or leading or advising people in political and legal situations. Enterprising occupations are often associated with business initiatives, sales, marketing/advertising, finance, management/administration, professional advising, public speaking, politics, or law.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

89% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
83% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
81% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
67% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.

Aptitude

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

81% Fluency of Ideas  -  The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
81% Originality  -  The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
75% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
75% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
75% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
75% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
72% Visualization  -  The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
69% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
69% Visual Color Discrimination  -  The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
69% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
66% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
66% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
66% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

Job Details

Responsibilities
Research new technologies.
Determine technical requirements of productions or projects.
Design layout of art or product exhibits, displays, or promotional materials.
Review art or design materials.
Manage operations of artistic or entertainment departments or organizations.
Coordinate artistic activities.
Present work to clients for approval.
Confer with clients to determine needs.
Train others on work processes.
Coordinate design activities.
Select staff, team members, or performers.
Collaborate with others to develop or refine designs.
Review art or design materials.
Coordinate artistic activities.
Draw detailed or technical illustrations.
Design layouts for print publications.
Write informational material.
Negotiate for services.
Develop artistic or design concepts for decoration, exhibition, or commercial purposes.
Prepare production storyboards.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

100% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
95% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
94% Spend Time Sitting  -  How much does this job require sitting?
94% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
94% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
90% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
89% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
80% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
79% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
76% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
75% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
73% Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions  -  How much does this job require making repetitive motions?
70% Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls  -  How much does this job require using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls?
67% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
67% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
77% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

99% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
89% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
85% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
85% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
84% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
84% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
80% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
72% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
70% Communicating with People Outside the Organization  -  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
70% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

What Art Directors Do

Art directors
Art directors determine which photographs, art, or other design elements to use.

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design and direct others who develop artwork or layouts.

Duties

Art directors typically do the following:

  • Determine how best to represent a concept visually
  • Determine which photographs, art, or other design elements to use
  • Develop the overall look or style of a publication, an advertising campaign, or a theater, television, or film set
  • Manage graphic designers, set and exhibit designers, or other design staff
  • Review and approve designs, artwork, photography, and graphics developed by other staff members
  • Talk to clients to develop an artistic approach and style
  • Coordinate activities with other artistic and creative departments
  • Develop detailed budgets and timelines
  • Present designs to clients for approval

Art directors typically oversee the work of other designers and artists who produce images for television, film, live performances, advertisements, or video games. They determine the overall style in which a message is communicated visually to its audience. For each project, they articulate their vision to artists. The artists then create images, such as illustrations, graphics, photographs, or charts and graphs, or design stage and movie sets, according to the art director’s vision.

Art directors work with art and design staffs in advertising agencies, public relations firms, or book, magazine, or newspaper publishing to create designs and layouts. They also work with producers and directors of theater, television, or movie productions to oversee set designs. Their work requires them to understand the design elements of projects, inspire other creative workers, and keep projects on budget and on time. Sometimes they are responsible for developing budgets and timelines.

The following are some specifics of what art directors do in different industries:

In advertising and public relations, art directors ensure that their clients’ desired message and image are conveyed to consumers. Art directors are responsible for the overall visual aspects of an advertising or media campaign and coordinate the work of other artistic or design staff, such as graphic designers.

In publishing, art directors typically oversee the page layout of catalogs, newspapers, or magazines. They also choose the cover art for books and periodicals. Often, this work includes publications for the Internet, so art directors oversee production of the websites used for publication.

In movie production, art directors collaborate with directors to determine what sets will be needed for the film and what style or look the sets should have. They hire and supervise a staff of assistant art directors or set designers to complete designs.

Work Environment

Art directors held about 135,100 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of art directors were as follows:

Self-employed workers 58%
Advertising, public relations, and related services 13
Motion picture and video industries 3
Specialized design services 3

Even though most art directors are self-employed, they must still collaborate with designers or other staff on visual effects or marketing teams. Art directors usually work in a fast-paced office environment, and they often work under pressure to meet strict deadlines.

Getting Started

Education:
68%
Bachelor's Degree
10%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED)

How to Become an Art Director

Art directors
Many art directors start out as graphic designers or in another art occupation, such as fine artists or photographers.

Art directors need at least a bachelor’s degree in an art or design subject and previous work experience. Depending on the industry, they may have worked as graphic designers, fine artists, editors, or photographers, or in another art or design occupation before becoming art directors.

Education

Art directors typically need a bachelor's degree in fine arts, a design subject, or a related field, such as communications technology.

Many art directors start out in another art-related occupation, such as fine artists or photographers. Work experience in art or design occupations develops an art director’s ability to visually communicate to a specific audience creatively and effectively. Workers gain the appropriate education for that occupation, usually by earning a bachelor of arts or bachelor of fine arts degree.

Some art directors earn a master of fine arts (MFA) degree to supplement their work experience and show their creative or managerial ability.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Most art directors have 5 or more years of work experience in another occupation before becoming art directors. Depending on the industry in which they previously worked, art directors may have had jobs as graphic designers, fine artists, editors, photographers, or in another art or design occupation.

For many artists, including art directors, developing a portfolio—a collection of an artist’s work that demonstrates his or her styles and abilities—is essential. Managers, clients, and others look at artists’ portfolios when they are deciding whether to hire an employee or contract for an art project.

Job Outlook

Employment of art directors is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 13,800 openings for art directors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

As traditional print publications lose ground to other media forms, art directors are shifting their focus to the design of websites and mobile platforms. This shift in focus is expected to increase demand for art directors.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about art directors in film and television, visit:

Art Directors Guild

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of art directors.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Craft and fine artists Craft and Fine Artists

Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition.

See How to Become One $53,140
Fashion designers Fashion Designers

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Bachelor's degree $76,700
Graphic designers Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers.

Bachelor's degree $57,990
Industrial designers Industrial Designers

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Bachelor's degree $75,910
Multimedia artists and animators Special Effects Artists and Animators

Special effects artists and animators create images that appear to move and visual effects for various forms of media and entertainment.

Bachelor's degree $98,950
Photographers Photographers

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,170
Writers and authors Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media.

Bachelor's degree $73,150

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.