Art Director

By: Sabrina Boccalandro

What Do They Do?

Art Directors are the people who create the visual style of magazines, newspapers, websites, product packaging, and movie/TV productions. They are responsible for making the overall design and directing the design staff. Art Directors choose how to best represent a concept visually and they choose what pictures, art, or design to use. Art Directors must talk to their clients and staff to come up with the design. Most Art Directors work with advertising companies to make visuals that look appealing to the eye. They usually have a team to help them create their project. The work environment is fast-paced and stressful because they have to meet certain deadlines with their work. The job pays an average of $80,000 a year(Bureau of Labor Statistics).

How to Become One

That commercial you just saw with the cool background, or that magazine you just read with the pretty colors, or the video game you just played with the good graphics were all designed by Art Directors. Art Directors are in charge of the visual representation of a concept, like designing the way websites, magazines, TV shows, and packaging look. They are important because without them a lot of things wouldn't look as appealing or sell that well. Art Directors choose colors and layouts that will sell better and catch the attention of potential customers like you and me. Also, Art Directors can create a certain mood or tone to fit the scene when they design sets or backgrounds for commercials, shows, or movies. Their work makes everyday things that we see more attractive. They are the creative side of business and advertising(Bureau of Labor Statistics).

For anyone interested in being an Art Director they will need to have an art related bachelors degree and about 5 years of previous experience. Most Art Directors work as illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, editors, or fine artists before becoming an art director. While doing your years of previous experience it is important to keep most of your work because you will need to create a portfolio that shows all your abilities. Clients and Managers will look at your portfolio before hiring you or contracting you for a project. Good Art Directors have some essential qualities; communication skills for talking with clients and their team, Creativity to come up with interesting ideas, Leadership to direct their design staff, time-management because they will be working on many projects at a time with deadlines to meet(Bureau of Labor Statistics).

First, select a degree that is art related such as Arts or Fine Arts. Only a bachelors degrees are needed but many Art Directors complete a Masters in Fine Arts to show that they have more abilities and can take on a managerial occupation. While doing your 4 years in college don't forget to collect your best work to put in your portfolio for the future. While in college it would be a good idea to get an internship working for an Art Director or at an advertising firm where you can learn how they create projects that are visually appealing. You can use some of the work you did while being an intern for your portfolio and get some extra money(Bureau of Labor Statistics)!

Next, after you finished your college degree you need some work experience if you haven't already gotten some during college. Most Art Directors get about 5 years of experience before applying for the job. There are many previous occupations that look good on an Art Directors portfolio, like a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, editor etc. You can even be part of an already Art Director's design team and learn the basics of how to be one while working one of them(Bureau of Labor Statistics).

After, when you have completed your work experience you have to decide if you want to be self-employed or work at a certain company. Self-employed Art Directors make their own company that bigger companies or clients can hire for their projects. If you want to work at a company like an advertising firm or any company that uses Art Directors you will need to put together your portfolio. Your portfolio might contain work that is more digital graphics, more hand illustrated, or more photographed designs, you need to choose a company that best fits the type of abilities that you have. For example, if my portfolio was full of digital graphics I might interview with a company that creates video games(Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Remember, don't forget to collect your best work over the years! Also don't forget to prepare for your interview. Research about the company, they will love someone who is very informed in what it is they do. Be confident and polite during your interview too!

Now, you are ready to become an Art Director. Hard work and dedication will lead you to your dream job. Now, you can be the reason behind the cool graphics, funny advertisements, and spectacular sets!


The work of an Art Director can sometimes be stressful. They have to meet deadlines while working on several projects at a time and still make a satisfying product. That is pretty much the only con unless you are a poor team worker because you do have to work with your design staff(Bureau of Labor Statistics).


The pros make up for the cons because the pay is really good at $80,000 per year. Also a pro is that you will be doing what you love if you are really into designing and art(Bureau of Labor Statistics).


The reason I am interested in being an Art Director is because I think it has a lot of important things that I like. I have always wanted a job that paid good but I would still like going to work everyday. I feel like being an Art Director would be fun and I love creating things and working with visuals. Plus it pays an average of $80,000 a year! I have also always been interested in the advertising industry but the more creative and artsy side like Art Directors. If I were to become an Art Director I would definitely would for and advertising firm.

I am still interested in being an Art Director but I have realized how much work it is going to take. The part that it mentioned about communication skills and time-management might be what I will have trouble with. But, if I really want to be an Art Director in the future I believe I can overcome those challenges.

To get ready for the job in high school I might take art as an elective and marketing as class. I am already doing both of those so I think I am prepared for college. Also, I can go to college with my mom, because she teaches Fine Arts at UNT, and I could learn a couple of things that I might be doing in the future.

I think my interest and skills match up pretty well with an art Director's. I like to design things and come up with new creative ideas. I also have always been into marketing because for some reason I like the way you can present a product in certain ways to make it more appealing to people. I would also consider myself very artistic with my hands, I am unusually better at drawing than average people but also I can create things using other materials not just a paper and pencil. The only qualities that i don't have that an Art Director does is communication skills and time management. I am not very good at talking in front of people or talking with important people, like a client or company. I also struggle with using my time wisely. I will always turn in work on time but I procrastinate A LOT. So if I'm trying to juggle several projects at one time like an Art Director AND meet deadline I will be a stressed out mess. Other than that I believe I have the qualities of an Art Director.

Works Cited

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Art Directors,
on the Internet at (visited May 06, 2014).

Art director talking to staff. Digital image. United States Department of Labor, 2014. Web. 6 May 2014. <>.

Art director talking to staff. Digital image. United States Department of Labor, 2014. Web. 6 May 2014. <>.

Art director talking to staff. Digital image. United States Department of Labor, 2014. Web. 6 May 2014. <>.

Art director talking to staff. Digital image. United States Department of Labor, 2014. Web. 6 May 2014. <>.