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Art Director Job Description, Career as an Art Director, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

income directors advertising layout magazine

Education and Training: Varies—see profile

Salary: Median—$63,750 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Art directors oversee the artistic design of advertisements and print materials, as well as the filming of television commercials. They are the decision makers who are responsible for the quality of the finished product. The art director chooses a photographer, an illustrator, models, and any props necessary for an ad. If a print ad comes back from the printer with an imperfection, the art director is responsible for retouching it.

In advertising, the art director is not only responsible for the "look" of an ad but is also part of a creative team responsible for developing the very concept. An art director and a copywriter (who writes the ads) may decide on an advertising concept together. Then they determine how the ad will look and what it will say.

To create a "print" ad—one that appears in a magazine or a newspaper or on a billboard—the art director creates a rough layout using a computer. The layout shows where the copy will go, which fonts and colors will be used, and what the picture will look like. At this stage, the layout must be approved by the client. Once a rough layout for an ad is approved, the art director uses all the resources of the agency to produce the finished ad.

Work begins in a large, open work area known as the bull pen, where the art director supervises a team of artists who work up the rough layout of an ad, refine it, and put it together on the computer. Assistants scale photographs and illustrations to the proper size and decide on the typeface. They run the copy and the photographs through the computer programs to create the pages as they will appear in print.

The client's first look at a television ad is in the form of a storyboard—a kind of comic-strip version of the action and dialogue of the ad. The art director draws the storyboard as a model for the filmed ad. Many people help prepare an ad for television. The art director and the copywriter then join forces with a producer, who handles the budget and the technical details. All three choose a director to film or tape the ad. The art director also helps to cast the actors for a television advertisement—they must have the "look" the art director wants.

Education and Training Requirements

Prospective art directors should begin by putting together a portfolio, which is a collection of their best work. There are a number of ways to get the training necessary to be an art director. In high school, students should take courses in art, mechanical drawing or drafting, and photography. Post-secondary education may include a program at a two-year college, a four-year college, or a special art school. Some two-year colleges offer basic courses in layout and paste-up. Four-year colleges offer bachelor's degrees in fine arts. A number of art schools across the country offer thorough training in graphic design, including courses in typography, design, layout, and photography. To be accepted at an art school, applicants typically need to present a portfolio.

Getting the Job

Individuals who attend an art school usually get help from the school in finding a job. Advertising agencies and magazine and book publishers can be contacted directly regarding their employment opportunities. Job openings are also listed in classified newspaper ads and on Internet job banks. Before applying for a position, prospective candidates must prepare a portfolio. Employers decide whom to hire on the basis of the talent and skills shown in an applicant's portfolio.

Beginners in the field usually start learning in the bull pen. By helping in this early stage of ad preparation, they learn how advertisements are actually handled. Artists do lettering and illustrations and learn to cut and paste and use drafting tools.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

In advertising a successful art director may become an art supervisor who manages other art directors on an account or a group head who supervises the artwork for a group of accounts. An art director may also become a creative director, a vice president, or the president of an advertising agency.

A talented art director can prosper in the book, newspaper, and magazine fields as well. Magazine publishers generally publish more than one magazine, and a successful art director on one title may oversee the artwork for a group of magazines. This person is sometimes called the corporate art director. In book publishing, an art director is generally responsible for designing book covers and pages. Some art directors earn prestige by having their work shown in museums, and some earn extra income by designing posters and calendars.

Both the advertising industry and the publishing industry reflect the ups and downs of the economy. Competition in the field is intense, but employment is expected to grow at an average rate through the year 2014. The best job opportunities will be for those with a great deal of talent and experience.

Working Conditions

Art directors employed by publishers and advertising agencies work under constant pressure. There are always deadlines to meet, layouts to deliver to the printer, or commercials that must be taped as soon as possible. To get a magazine out on time, art directors must put pressure on the artists who work for them to finish their work on schedule. Delays in the production of a television commercial can be very expensive, and the art director is ultimately responsible for having everything ready on time and staying until the shooting is finished. There is very little job security in the advertising business, and frequent job changes are not unusual among art directors.

Where to Go for More Information

The Art Directors Club
106 W. 29th St.
New York, NY 10001
(212) 643-1440
http://www.adcglobal.org/

Society for News Design
1130 Ten Rod Rd., Ste. D-202
North Kingstown, RI 02852-4180
(401) 294-5233
http://www.snd.org/

Earnings and Benefits

Salaries for art directors vary widely depending on an individual's experience and skills, the employer, and the company's geographic location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for salaried art directors was $63,750 per year in 2004. Pay is slightly higher in the advertising field than in publishing. Senior art directors may earn up to $125,000 per year depending on their talent, experience, and the size of the agency that employs them.

Artist Job Description, Career as an Artist, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job [next] [back] Announcer Job Description, Career as an Announcer, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

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almost 6 years ago

wow! this job is like... my dream. I want to work in the film industry as an art director. everyone says my work is amazing, and im only 14, not trying to brag but i think i just might have what it takes!

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over 7 years ago

Your decription of the kind of a "good" art director is superb in that it contains both artistic and management aspect of an art director's ideal area of interest. But, to my mind,the major point seemingly missing in your description is that an art director needs a born instinct to accept life like no other fellows would tend to live - a life of discovering the meaning of life through combing the qualities of an artist and abilities of a manager.



Hasnat Karim Pintu

Creative Director

Roop-ComVort

Dhaka, Bangladesh

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almost 4 years ago

I'm doing this for a project in school. Thanks 4 the info!! :)

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almost 6 years ago

Heyy! I'm an 8th grader doing a project, too. I found this information very helpful!! You are awesome! I'll be sure to get an A :)

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about 6 years ago

Heya!! :)) seems you guys are ready fredy for this job, huh? ^_^ im only 14, but i think i can handle this. Im doing the big six project in 8th grade at the moment! my choices are Artist, or Director. I need three, of course, and Art director seems to fit xD i cant wait till i graduate high school, who knows what ill become :)

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over 5 years ago

This was really useful! I'm in grade 11, doing a graduation transition assignment for Senior planning, and this website was perfect! I found all the information I needed right here, and it was all written clearly so I could easily understand what the job is about!! Great website, and I made sure to cite it :)

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over 5 years ago

My dream is to become an Art Director. I live in Ontario, Canada and I'll be graduating high school this coming year. Please do me a favor and help me find a university or even college for any related/relevant courses to this career. I'll be very grateful to you!

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over 5 years ago

Though I am in a different country to America, I found this article very useful. I am in my second to last year of high school and I was looking for something exactly like this job description but couldn't put a name to it, thankyou.

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almost 6 years ago

I'm nearly finsihing Sixth form,and am studying Art, Photography and Graphic Design. I have always been intreseted in magzines and they way they are laid out and researched more into Art Directors and creative directors and am just wondering what course i would have to do at university to get into this field of work?

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over 6 years ago

I am currently a graphic designer/photographer for a small design and photography studio in Chicago, IL and before working for this company i was a graphic designer for a printing company. My goal is to be an art director.
I am self taught in graphic design and photography i have never took a course in my life. The highest education i have is my GED diploma. I want to go back to school to work my way up to become an art director. But I dont know where to start or what classes i need to take I know it will take yrs to get to that point but this is what i want to do. My uncle is an art director for a big marketing company and does very well for him self and we bounce ideas off each other at times.
Any guidance or advice you can give me would be of great help. I live in Chicago, IL and have 2 yrs as a graphic designer i work with photoshop, illustrator and indesign for the past 2yrs and have a GED. Also a couple years ago i was a model and am great in front of the camera and i apply that experience towards my photography I enjoy more directing the shoots then actually taking the pics and my boss and models always tell me im great with direction in photo shoots...

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about 6 years ago

i have a great passion to get into ad field i m doing my bbm final sem n planning to take up diploma course in advertising and marketing..
pls let me know further details in ad field

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over 5 years ago

i want to like to study,plz send me details

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over 3 years ago

i hate this web site

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over 5 years ago

heeey! okay i dont know what school to go to for this,,, please write back. And give me three schools to choose from... heart alyssa!(:

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almost 6 years ago

The info was really useful...thanks a lot...

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over 6 years ago

Hello Cathy, it seems you're on the right track. I am also in Chicago! I graduated last year with a B.S. degree in Advertising and a concentration in Creative Design. All my life I've done design work and am completely self taught. I took two classes on "Graphic Design" when I was in school and I could've taught them they were so basic. But... my degree has made me more marketable but and contributed to my creative process/understanding of the market in general. Now I am an in house graphic designer and completely self sufficient. Here's some food for though: the skills I am using in my career are ones that I learned in high school.

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over 3 years ago

i love itttt . this site ,

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over 4 years ago

lookn 4 a career, im 18, graduating highschool in less than 6mo, and i jus wanna know everything that goes into being an art director, im told im an amazing artist by everyone but i jus need that push in the right direction, email for info?
thankyou very much:)

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over 4 years ago

i wanted to be a lawyer but everyone says i should be an art director i looked it up for a project and im having lots of fun:)

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10 months ago

I think this was really helpful for an eighth grader doing a project about their dream job.

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about 2 years ago

P.G.C.C. Student. This article was informative for researching Art professions, but clearly lacks informative citing information that include a direct authorative notification source.

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about 4 years ago

I just need this for my project! THANKS FOR THE AWESOME ARTICLE!