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How did you get your start doing art director work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

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art director in Warwick, New York

82 months ago

I worked my way up from Jr. designer to senior designer to art director. It took about 6 years and 1 company move. It's been my experience that you are promoted to art director, and not hired as one out of school. I achieved this by working long hours, showing initiative, agonizing over details, taking responsibility, supervising others, earning the trust of my supervisor, and showing a genuine desire for the company's success, as well as coming up with ideas that are sensitive to the needs of the client/project as well as being creative (notice how creative is near the end of the list--it's not all glamour, it's hard work).

I think a degree in graphic design is pretty necessary, but if you can get your foot in the door and have knowledge and natural talent, you can do it.

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Andre Olsen in Ellenville, New York

81 months ago

I agree with "if you can get your foot in the door and have knowledge and natural talent, you can do it." I would like a position as a Graphic Designer. However, right now I need to work, does anyone know any place in Middletown/Goshen/Kingston/Monticello, that is hiring? Thanks!

Andre
www.webshots.com/user/andreolsen

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autumn in Whitehouse, Ohio

81 months ago

art director in Warwick, New York said: I worked my way up from Jr. designer to senior designer to art director. It took about 6 years and 1 company move. It's been my experience that you are promoted to art director, and not hired as one out of school. I achieved this by working long hours, showing initiative, agonizing over details, taking responsibility, supervising others, earning the trust of my supervisor, and showing a genuine desire for the company's success, as well as coming up with ideas that are sensitive to the needs of the client/project as well as being creative (notice how creative is near the end of the list--it's not all glamour, it's hard work).

I think a degree in graphic design is pretty necessary, but if you can get your foot in the door and have knowledge and natural talent, you can do it.

what college degree did you gey?

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Eric in Clearwater, Florida

80 months ago

I got a BA in Fine Art with emphasis in graphic arts. It's taken me about 7 years to get an Art Director's position. You've certainly got to put your time in as a Graphic Artist and really take charge on projects to be promoted. I put in many long hours, weekends, and lots of frustration, but it's been well worth it.

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Janie in Chicago, Illinois

78 months ago

I am a Visual Communications major at the Illinois Institute of Art- Chicago. I aspire to be an Art Director one day and I was wondering certain instances where you must give an informative speech. I can't wait to start...

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Sarah in Chicago, Illinois

77 months ago

I agree with Janie... I also wonder what types of informative speeches you have given over the years to get to this point.

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john in Wanaque, New Jersey

73 months ago

Well if you are good, u can get a job as Jr. Art Director right after school, with a Visual Communication Major.
And if u do the right thing for a year, your company will remove the Jr. and become an AD.

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andie in Panhandle, Texas

73 months ago

well i am a high school student now and i will graduate this spring...but i'm very intersted in this career and was wondering if it is a good route or if another area in design is a better bet?

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damianicus in Louisville, Kentucky

71 months ago

Got an undergrad in marketing. Then went to Portfolio Center in Atlanta (Creative Circus is there too). Left early to start working as a full on AD at an agency (skipped Jr.).

My best advice is to buy Communication Arts, especially the Advertising and Design annual. The One Show. And get Archive magazine. Look at the work. Do work just as good.. then look at what companies have their work in those books and ONLY apply to them. Send them something really clever to get noticed.

Stay at each of your agencies from 2 to 4 years tops. You get the best salary bumps jumping agencies.

At those agencies it's nearly impossible to have a paying client's advertising end up in those award books I mentioned above. Too many idiots to mess things up.

So what you do (and I know a LOT of creatives that did this) is pick a fun local client i.e. a bondage store, coffee shop or something... Do some Kick ass work... and THEN take the finished work to them and get them to run it. If they try to change something, stop them, tell them you'll take it to their competitors if they do.

Then you run the work in some tiny local rag of a newspaper so you can say it ran. Or hang it on a wall for 10 minutes if it's a poster. Then submit it to the awards books. If you get in, you're going to impress those agencies that do good work.

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damianicus in Louisville, Kentucky

60 months ago

I went to the Portfolio Center in Atlanta and started out as a full Art Director. Other schools like it are Creative Circus in Atlanta. Miami Ad School. Art Center in Cali. School of Visual Arts in New York.

If you can't afford those, try and put your own portfolio together and send it to the agencies that win the most awards. If you land a job at a crappy agency your brilliant ideas will seem crappy to them, trust me.

It's hard to motivate yourself to finish a portfolio on your own. Get a partner or two. Like if you're a writer, find an aspiring Art Director or Designer on Craig's List. Maybe you can get that first job as a team. (I got my first two jobs with my writer partner from school).

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Anonymous Coward in Dallas, Texas

42 months ago

I went to San Diego State and majored in Graphic Design, minored in Advertising. The advertising part had a lot of journalism and communication classes. I did an internship while in school at a design firm. I worked in design for a little bit and at some point I got a break at an ad agency.
I work as a Senior Art Director/Associate Creative Director at a reputable agency.
You can go to a portfolio school like some people have mentioned, but that's not the only route. I know plenty of people who work in advertising who haven't done that. A design degree from any decent place will give you sort of the basics that you will need, but this is not a career that has a traced route. Whatever school you go to, you end up making your own education experience. Don't just learn what you're told or take the classes you're supposed to take. You must do far more than that. You must educate yourself far beyond than what your school will do. Read every magazine about advertising, every blog, watch every TV spot, become obsessed with it. Keep up with the ad festivals. If that sounds like a lot of work, choose another career.
You can build a portfolio of spec ads on your own. You don't need a portfolio school for that, although it's easier (although far more expensive). But the way you rise to the top and get noticed, is not just by designing pretty layouts. It's by developing a sharp eye, a rich visual culture, a massive visual reference mental library, and most of all; by thinking unconventionally and coming up with the best ideas.
That's what's going to set you apart from the rest of the people out there. The best ideas that nobody has seen before. An art director needs to be conceptual by definition. Some art directors think that's the copywriter's job, but they will NEVER get promoted to Creative Directors by thinking that way.
Also, this is a very competitive field. You need to want to do this with all your heart otherwise you will pretty much fail at it.

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