How To Become an Art Director

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An art director is responsible for the visual look of newspapers, magazines, television shows, movies, or digital sites. Approximately 12 percent of art directors work for advertising and public relations companies. Others work for newspaper and magazine publishers, specialized design studios, and film and video companies.[1] An art director should have a bachelor's degree and expect to work in entry level artistic positions to gain experience that leads to a promotion to art director.


Flickr: Boltron
Education Bachelor's degree[1]
Starting pay $34,500[2]
Median pay $80,630[1]
10 yr growth Slower than average[1]
Related professions Fashion designers, graphic designers[3]
Author Susan MacDowell

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Art Director Overview

An art director is responsible for formulating the presentational approach and design elements of a visual project, including specifying material characteristics, such as size and style of type, photographs, graphics, video, animation and sound. An art director also has to work within a project budget and collaborate with copywriters, graphic designers, and members of production departments. Finally, the art director often has to present the finished project to clients for their approval.[4]

Art Director Education

An art director needs a bachelor's degree with a major in such subjects as fine art, design, visual communications, or digital media.[5] Program applicants are usually required to submit a portfolio demonstrating their creative talent and skill.[6]Depending on the scope of their responsibilities, some art directors also may pursue a degree in art administration, which teaches non-artistic skills such as project management and finance.[7]

Art Director Training

Art directors should expect to do a lot of on-the-job training. Depending on the industry, they may have worked as graphic designers, illustrators, copy editors, or photographers, or in another art or design occupation, before becoming art directors. It is also important for art directors to have prior experience in management because they are required to supervise workers.[5]

A Day in the Life of an Art Director

ConnectEd's "Day in the Life" series follows art director Nikki Thayer during a day at work

Also See: How to Become an Animator, How to Become a Cinematographer, How to Become an Illustrator


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