How to Become an Art Director

Written by

Ray Grant Walden


August 14, 2014


What does an art director do?

Art directors develop design concepts and review the content for advertisements, television, magazines, newspapers, and other digital, film or printed media. They use their experience and skill to choose the visual elements that will be used in published material. Artists may create the artwork and illustrations, but the art director is the executive editor who makes the final decision on the visual presentation of information to ensure that it is organized, appealing, and catches the viewer’s eye. The art director guides and examines how the information communicates mood, emotion and the quality of the product.

Art directors are often charged with managing artists, developers, designers, copywriters and layout artists. They corroborate with managers of other departments involved in the creative process to discuss the needs of the client and the presentation.

Art directors are also responsible for managing projects and staying within the designated budget and adhering to the schedule. They meet with clients to set goals and budgets and discuss the background information and visual concepts. They also present the final layout for the clients to approve.

What kind of training does an art director need?

Most people who become art directors start their careers with a bachelor degree in arts and design and work as an entry-level artist in advertising, design, motion picture production, and publishing firms. After a time, if exceptional artistic ability and leadership qualities are demonstrated, they may be promoted to an art director job.

Some colleges and universities offer art director courses as part of their curricula for art majors. Based on their roles and responsibilities, some art directors pursue degrees in art administration, which offers non-artistic coursework in finance and project management.

What are the prospects for a career in art direction?

Art director job opportunities are expected to grow faster than average for all occupations, growing 16% from 218,000 jobs in 2012 to more than 252,000 jobs in 2016 (1). Employers and clients are always looking for creative and talented art directors to lead their production projects.

Prospects for art director jobs will be the best for candidates who are highly qualified with significant experience. Competition for art director careers will be keen, so the more experience and education, the more opportunities.

How much do art directors make?

Art director salaries are extremely attractive in specific areas of the country, but across the U.S. as well. Average art director salary runs between $83,960 and $133,450, with the highest 10% making over $156,000. (2)

For anyone considering whether and how to become an art director, this is potentially a great career choice for creative people with excellent visual orientation and an abundance of new and fresh ideas, in addition to having strong leadership skills and enjoy working as part of a team. Art directors must also be adaptive, organized and manage their time well.

If you are serious about a career in arts and design, check out our list of the best online graphic design schools.

Becoming an Art Director Requires Training Start Today

Are you serious about becoming an Art Director? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  Ray Grant Walden

Ray Grant Walden attended American University College and now lives in Houston. He has enjoyed a very exciting career and has experience in a wide variety of professions, including college counseling.

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