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What's it like to be an Art Director?

Hi all! I'm exploring career options and wondering if anyone is/was an Art Director and want to know the following 1.) a summary of what you do on the day-today 2.) Can you be an Art Director who has no technical art background but more of a business background, and 3.) What is the best career path to follow in order to be qualified to become an Art Director? Thanks so much! #artist #artdirector #director #arts #art #performing-arts

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Doc’s Answer

Grace art directors oversee the creation of visual material for advertisements, print publications, product packaging, film productions and other outlets. Art directors typically manage other staff members, including designers, artists and writers. They may look over specific elements, such as design concepts, original or stock artwork, layouts and the stylistic components of written materials. They may also create budgets and deadlines, collaborate with other departments like copywriting or production and communicate with clients throughout the project's lifespan. Most art directors work for advertising and public relations firms, print and online publications, design companies or the motion picture and entertainment industry. People in this position typically work full time and spend the majority of their time in an office or design studio.

Art director positions typically require a bachelor's degree in an art or design major such as fine art, visual communications or digital media. Depending on their industry, art directors may have several years of work experience in graphic design, photography, illustration or other fields. Some art directors pursue a master's degree in fine arts or business administration to prepare for a leadership role. Bachelor's programs in graphic design tend to focus on artistic topics, providing studies in color theory, typography, drawing and Web graphics. In addition to a high-school diploma, many bachelor's degree programs for graphic design require the submission of a portfolio or sample of work for program acceptance; many also require an internship or the completion of a senior project for degree completion. Students acquire skills in the conceptualization, history and development of posters, Web pages, brand designs and publication designs. If you already know that you are interested in graphic design specifically, then it might make sense for you to major in graphic design from the start. However, any art or design major could prepare a student for a career as an art director. You could also choose to major in fine art, photography, industrial design, or any other relevant area of study. During your education, you should focus on building your professional portfolio of work.

Art directors aren’t hired for their positions right out of college. Instead, they need to spend some time gaining professional experience and further developing and proving their skills. Aspiring art directors can start out as fine artists, interior designers, set designers, photographers or publication editors. They often work in roles such as these for at least five years before advancing to the role of art director. To further improve their job marketability, aspiring art directors can earn an advanced college degree, like the Master of Fine Arts (MFA). For a creative person, there’s plenty to be excited about in the career of art director. Aside from the generous pay at the senior level, art directors have a direct opportunity to influence the look and visual style of a movie, magazine or product packaging. They get paid to exercise their creativity and develop stylistic ideas. They can also enjoy the challenges of leading a team of talented artists. While education and experience are required to attain this high-level job, the rewards of this position are well worth the investment. One of the top paying jobs for art and design majors is art director. A senior art director in the field of graphic design earns a median salary of $98,500 per year.

Hole this was helpful Grace
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Louise’s Answer

While you don't have to major in an art-related field to be an art director, it's not an entry level position. All the art directors I work with started as graphic designers, then moved up to senior graphic designer and then art director. To get an entry-level graphic design position you need a portfolio, also known as a book, with samples of your design work to convince a potential employer to hire you. I'd recommend taking as many design-related courses as you can, seeing if there are any extracurricular activities involving art that you can be a part of, and seeing if you can get an art/graphic design-related internship. You can also enroll in portfolio school after college, which are typically non-degree programs specifically designed to help you have more samples for your portfolio
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Jennifer’s Answer

Grace: John has given you some great advice. I am a Corporate Communications professional and have worked very closely with Art Directors over the years both inside my companies and through agencies. The only thing I would add is that from industry to industry you may be asked to have more diverse experiences including communications or strong writing skills to strong understanding of technical skills. Most of the Art Directors I have worked with are in an end to end digital agency and do need to have technical expertise as well as strong business acumen. The best advice is to explore as many opportunities as you can in different industries. Experience makes you much more marketable than a very specific and focused career path. Good Luck to you.
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