Art Director Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

An Art Director, or Production Artist, is responsible for overseeing the visual images and styles of designs for several outlets, like magazines, newspapers, movies, television shows or other media forms. Their duties typically include deciding which art piece or graphics to include in their material, establishing the overall look for a campaign or media piece and approving designs or artwork pitched to them for the final product.

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Art Director duties and responsibilities

How the role of an Art Director functions within your organization depends on the industry, but typically they have responsibilities similar to the following:

  • Design gallery space to best represent art concepts.
  • Choose which art pieces to display.
  • Work with artists to best determine how to represent their vision.
  • Prepare budgets and schedules for gallery shows and presentations.
  • Create layouts and designs for print publications such as magazines and books.
  • Direct creation of artwork used on websites and other online media.
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What does an Art Director do?

Art Directors oversee the creation and implementation process of certain design and art pieces for a company. They evaluate a company’s goals and expectations, then direct their team to create visually appealing pieces that tell the story of the company’s brand. Art Directors may work for an individual organization or in an agency setting pitching and implementing design ideas to clients. They usually oversee a team of graphic designers or other design employees, depending on the industry they work in. Art Directors often receive a concept from a company and work with their team to design a strong piece that best represents it.

Art Director skills and qualifications

Art Directors use a variety of hard and soft skills, as well as industry knowledge, to provide the most comprehensive support they can. Some necessary skills include:

  • Excellent communication skills 
  • Creativity
  • Excellent time management skills 
  • Ability to meet tight deadlines
  • Managerial skills
  • Basic understanding of art in technology or art applications

Art Director salary expectations

The average salary of an Art Director is $75,935 per year in the United States. An Art Director’s actual salary may vary from the average depending on their level of education, years of working experience, special training or certifications and unique skills. People in this position usually have a two- to four-year tenure. 

Art Director education and training requirements

To become an Art Director, applicants should have a bachelor’s degree in an art or a related design field such as fine arts, digital media or visual communications. If working at a management level, job seekers may be required to have a master’s degree in fine arts or business administration. Art Directors working on digital projects should be skilled in graphic creation and editing computer programs. 

Art Director experience requirements

Art Directors must have at least 5 years of experience working in an art-related profession such as photography, graphic design, fine arts or editing. Work experience at a managerial level may be required. Art Director candidates should be able to present a portfolio demonstrating their work experience, style and skills when applying for a job. 

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Frequently asked questions about Art Directors

What makes a good Art Director?

A good Art Director should be a strong leader who can clearly communicate clients’ needs to their design team. They should have extensive experience in design and a clear understanding of the industry they work in to better grasp the goals of clients and the messaging they’re communicating through their designs. Art Directors should also have a strong knowledge of their team’s skills and abilities to properly delegate tasks to employees who will perform more effectively on certain projects. 

What is the difference between a Creative Director and Art Director?

An Art Director works closely with the design team to create visually compelling designs for the client. They’re in charge of the artistic details and design aspects of a project. A Creative Director builds strategies to execute campaigns and meet with the client to ensure they’re satisfied with the final product. Creative Directors oversee the implementation process of a project and act as the main point of contact between the Art Director and the client. The Art Director works more closely with the design team and communicates any challenges they’re facing to the Creative Director. 

Who reports to an Art Director?

Members of the design teams often report to the Art Director. They will build a design for a project and the Art Director will review the final piece. Art Directors provide constructive feedback to the design teams and ensure the final product meets the clients’ standards. If the design team needs help on complex projects, the Art Director typically uses their extensive knowledge and experience to assist them in the designs and provide them guidance for creating a strong final product. The Art Director typically trains their team and helps them build the necessary skill set to become an effective designer. 

Do Art Directors have different responsibilities in different industries?

There are many different industries Art Directors may work in and their responsibilities may vary for each one. In advertising and marketing agencies, Art Directors help build visuals and graphics for promotional campaigns that best convey the client’s desired messaging and imagery. They may work for publishing companies to oversee the layout of print media like magazines, newspapers or print advertisements. Art Directors who work in film, television or theater productions determine the look and style of certain production sets.

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