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2020-05-20 00:02:24

How to become an art director?

How to become an art director?

Are you good at visual design? Do you like to participate in group projects and work with other people? Perhaps the profession of an art director is what you need.

What does an art director do? He has a visual style, images in magazines, newspapers, cinema, television, packaging, the overall design of the project, the direction of other project participants. Art directors work in companies engaged in advertising, public relations, publishing houses of newspapers, magazines, design bureaus, in the theater, cinema, and video sphere.

People who solve a similar range of tasks are called an art supervisor, creative director, design director. The average salary of an art director in the United States is around 92,780 $ / year.

What does an art director do

An art director is a managerial position: he oversees the work of other designers and artists who create images for television, films, live performances, commercials or video games. They determine the general style of the project, formulate their vision for the artists, and they already embody the general concept in illustrations, graphics, photographs, diagrams, graphs, scenes, films.

The art director works with designers in advertising, PR agencies, publishers of books, magazines, newspapers to create designs, layouts. They work with producers, directors of theater, television or film companies, work together on sets. Work requires that the art director have a design education, be able to inspire other artists, adjust the budget and deadlines of projects. Sometimes they independently develop budgets and deadlines.

The art director usually solves the following tasks:

  • Determines how best to present a visual concept.
  • Selects which photographs, drawings, or other design elements will be used.
  • Develops a general look or style for an advertising campaign.
  • Supervises the work of designers.
  • Checks and approves projects, works of art, photographs, graphics.
  • Discusses with clients the chosen artistic approach, style.
  • Coordinates activities with other art or creative departments.
  • Develops detailed budget and deadlines.
  • Submits projects to clients for approval.

What practical skills will help the art director:

  • The presence of basic knowledge in the field of graphic design, production technologies will allow the future specialist to better understand how to create mock-ups (although, basically, everything except the preliminary work is now performed on a computer, you can’t do without a “suggestive hand”).
  • The art director needs strong conceptual skills. Any project begins with a strong idea - this is the basis of commercial art. There is no product without an idea.
  • Another basic competency of the leader is excellent communication skills. The team must understand what you want: so clearly articulate your vision and risks. And communication with customers who want-do-not-know-what. And third-party contractors. Patience and communication skills for an art director is everything.
  • The artistic director always stays in touch, he has an irregular working day.
  • This may sound romantic, but for the art director, love for his work is important, because very often the work takes almost all of his time.
  • Like other creative professions, this one will require the ability to perceive criticism, even if you do not agree with the reviews.

Art Director in various industries

Artistic directors work in various industries, and the type of work they perform depends on the industry.


Field of activity

Publishing house

The publishing house of the art director oversees the layout of the pages of newspapers, magazines, selects cover for books, periodicals, and the development of web publications. Provides support to the art department, including creating press releases, creating banners for a website, social networks

Advertising, public relations

They are responsible for the general visual aspects of an advertising or media campaign, and coordinate the work of artists and designers.

These responsibilities may include interacting with a team of managers and client representatives, developing ideas and concepts for working with a creative team, preparing campaigns to provide clients, taking steps to create advertising, and implementing a project

Film industry

In the production of films, art directors collaborate with directors, determine the overall style of costumes / sets / types of actors, work closely with decorators, designers, assistant directors, directors and scriptwriters

Large design company

In a large company, the art director controls other art directors, image developers, stage designers, and junior designers. In small companies, an art director can fulfill all of the above roles.

Various departments include the departments of art, construction, locations, real estate, transport. Artistic directors are responsible for assigning tasks to the employees of each of them, budgeting, planning, quality control, participation in production meetings

Regardless of the industry in which the art director works, there is a proven success strategy. According to James Fenton, founder of Blimp Creative: “As an art director, you must be a leader, someone who inspires leads the vision of a design team. You should be able to recognize the talent in the people around you, find out how best to achieve the best from them... The role of an art director can be compared to the role of a chef who mixes the ingredients to create a menu of delicious dishes”.

Personal qualities required for an art director

Art directors are, as a rule, creative personalities, intuitive, sensitive, but at the same time able to think strategically and express their vision in an accessible way, because they formulate original innovative ideas.

As managers, they are entrepreneurial, ambitious, persistent, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, optimistic.

What other qualities will help the future art director to succeed:

  • Confidence
  • Ability to learn
  • Stress resistance
  • Ability to think outside the box
  • Communication skills
  • Strategic thinking
  • Ability to work together.

One working day may include sending a book to print, showing cover concepts, reading, researching for interior magazines, as well as getting excerpts from a future book, answering e-mail requests between other larger tasks.

What to prepare for the future art director?

A typical work environment for an art director is a space for communication: art directors communicate a lot with the team, other divisions of the company, and clients. Most art directors are self-employed; they collaborate with designers and other visual effects specialists and members of marketing teams. Artistic directors usually work more than 40 hours a week in a rapidly changing environment, stress and burning terms.

Where to study as an art director?

IED Madrid, European Institute of Design

For over 50 years, Istituto Europeo di Design has been working in the fields of design, fashion, visual communications and management. Today, the IED is a constantly expanding international network that accepts students for diploma courses, undergraduate programs, master's programs, and continuing education courses. Since 1966, IED has been developing innovative teaching methods that focus on the synergy between technologies, experiments, creativity, strategies, integrated communication, market problems and a new form of professionalism. Istituto Europeo di Design offers young professionals working in the field of fashion, design and communications, knowledge, effective tools necessary to meet the ever-growing demands of a professional environment.

Professional programs are intended for students who already have higher education (undergraduate graduates), and professionals who want to improve their skills and level of knowledge. This is the most comprehensive course of in-depth, professional study of art and design: graduate students are highly valued on the international labor market, the doors of many international companies are open to them. In the educational process, 1,500 academic hours are planned to get acquainted with the latest achievements and successes of the industry, conferences, seminars, master classes and meetings with successful professionals. A personal research project provides ample opportunities for self-realization, demonstration of one’s own creative vision, style, methodology. This is a chance to say your word in the field of art and design.

What specialties can I get:

  • Strategic design
  • European design
  • Industrial Design
  • Design and Communications
  • Fashion.

The cost of the master's program in English is from 24,500 € / per year.

Istituto Marangoni Milano

Istituto Marangoni Milano is the first private university in Europe to launch professional fashion and design courses: its successful history spans over 80 years. The Italian Marangoni Institute made a real revolution in the global fashion industry, brought Italy to a leading position in the field of style, fashion and design, turned the country into a true trendsetter.

The Milan campus Istituto Marangoni Milano teaches interior design, visual and industrial design, fashion, style, foundation, brand promotion. Own career growth service connects students with future employers, helps to establish useful business contacts and acquaintances, and obtain internship and practice opportunities.

Master's program is a specialized course: it is aimed at the development of managerial and specialized skills. The duration of study is 1 academic year, and each student independently chooses the language of instruction: Italian or English.

Master's programs are open in the following areas:

  • Fashion Retail Management
  • Product management in the fashion industry, production management
  • Design Industry Management
  • Women's Clothing Design
  • Legislation in the fashion industry
  • Photography and advertising in the fashion industry
  • Luxury Brand Management
  • Textile design
  • Modern purchases of fashion collections
  • Design of men's clothing (on the course, students collaborate with representatives of the famous brand Ermenegildo Zegna).

Education in a master's course costs from 21,735 € / per year.

Academy of Art University

The University of the Academy of Fine Arts is the largest private art school in the United States: about 12,000 students from around the world study here. The school's philosophy is focused on the formation of a new progressive generation of artists, designers under the guidance of professional, experienced teachers and practitioners. The Academy is a member of the Association of Professional Colleges, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and the program itself is officially accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The Academy offers programs:

  • Multimedia communications
  • Design of clothes, interiors, jewelry, web design, graphic, industrial, game design
  • The photo
  • Music production, sound design
  • Art
  • Acting
  • Landscape architecture
  • Television and film production
  • Architecture
  • Illustration
  • Art history
  • Animation, visual effects.
  • Advertising.

The cost of education in a magistracy is from 26,147 $ / per year.

Preparation for the work of art director

Most art directors worked for several years in another profession before taking up this position: graphic designer, artist, editor, photographer. Of great importance when looking for a job is the development of a professional looking portfolio (a collection of works that demonstrates its style, abilities and experience). Agencies, directors, publishers, clients - all evaluate the portfolio of artists when they decide whether to entrust the applicant with a project, large or small. Many talented designers and artists strive to take the position of art director, so people with a good portfolio who can demonstrate strong visual design and conceptual work on all multimedia platforms will have better prospects.

Art Director: Success Story

One of the most successful art directors in the world is Ray Inamoto, former AKQA Creative Director, New York. He worked with Audi, Google, Nike, Xbox and Verizon, his name is noted in the "Achievement Hall" of the American Federation of Advertising. He sees his mission in doing things that are useful, suitable for use and in demand.

Most notable works: advertising campaigns for the Miracle Whip, the launch of the 2010 Volkswagen GTI and online games based on the movie “Sherlock Holmes”. According to Ray Inamoto, the success of the advertising campaigns created by AKQA, he explains very simply: "We create a product that is interesting to the consumer."

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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