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An Art Director's Job: Behind the Scenes

October 25, 2023
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10
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What is an Art Director?

Art directors.

It’s possible you run across this fascinating job title every day, either during your workday while collaborating with other companies or maybe through a quick glance at the credits of a TV program, movie, or magazine.

The title is somewhat descriptive, so you may have a hunch about what they do for a living, but …

What is an art director exactly?

Today’s blog has all the answers you need! 

Whether you’re just curious about the role or you want to learn more to create a position within your own company, we’re taking you through a day in the life of an art director to fill you in on what an art director does every day!

The Vital Role of Art Direction

Art tools, such as a ruler, pencil, computer screen, and pen.

To begin with, an art director is a role most often found in creative fields where visual elements take center stage and can make or break a product.

Art direction jobs will vary by company, but its core responsibilities revolve around generating innovative concepts and delivering a captivating visual message to readers, viewers, or users in their company’s target audience. 

The art director often works as a team with other creatives including copywriters, video editors, animators, graphic designers, web designers, and more on various projects within their respective industries.

A good art director excels at collaboration and is always open to the inspiration, ideas, and expertise of the people around them. They’ll do everything they can to establish quality standards and enhance the visuals of the products their company is putting out into the world!

Here is a little more about some industries where you’re likely to run into one of these special people!

Marketing and Advertising

In the dynamic and non-stop world of marketing and advertising, art directors are the visionaries who make sure that campaigns are leaving the impact desired and grabbing the attention of a brand’s target audience!

They lead creative team members made up of copywriters, designers, video editors, and more to craft visually appealing and eye-catching marketing materials that align with the target audience and are perfectly on brand with the company producing them. 

Some examples of projects that require art direction are:

  • Digital Ads — Art directors oversee the creation of digital ad assets like web banners, videos, social media ads, display ads, and more to make sure that all online content is up to standard, resonating with the target audience, and aligned with the company's brand identity.
  • Print Advertising — An art director’s watchful eye also extends to printed collateral like magazines, newspapers, brochures, catalogs, and more. They decide on the overall look and details like typography, color palette, and visual style to create sleek and elegant printed collateral to showcase a brand’s products.
  • TV Commercials — If you see a commercial on TV, odds are that an art director was on set, working closely with directors, cinematographers, and set designers to make sure every frame was visually appealing and on point for the product being sold. 
  • Package Design — Art directors work closely with the graphic design team to craft creative and head-turning labels and packaging designed to catch the eye of wandering customers and move products off the shelf.
  • Billboards — Every billboard you see on your commute has an art director closely involved with its creation to make sure that the visuals make the desired impact and are capable of grabbing attention even at a distance.
  • Photoshoots — Whether the photos are for a fashion magazine or a brand catalog, art directors are in charge of every detail from lighting to backgrounds to wardrobe to make sure all visual elements are making the right statement.
  • Social media content — Consistency is key on the socials and an art director is there to help maintain a cohesive look and feel across a brand’s social media platforms.

Publication

If you want your target audience to read your print and publications, they’re going to have to capture attention and keep it with compelling design and strategically placed copy and visuals.

Art directors work closely with photographers, graphic designers, illustrations, copywriters, and other team members and make final decisions about layout, graphics, and the overall look and feel of a publication to keep it aesthetically pleasing and reader friendly.

Art directors are crucial for the overall look of publications like:

  • Magazines — Art directors oversee the design of magazine layouts, including the all-important covers, article spreads, and other visual elements to tailor it to the messaging of whatever industry the magazine is in, including fashion, beauty, real estate, architecture, art, or science.
  • Book Covers — The art director is also responsible for overseeing the design of book covers that perfectly capture the essence of a book and attract readers. They make decisions on color palettes, typography, imagery, and more.
  • Newspapers — Newspapers are still around! And the art director is responsible for strategically placing headlines, images, and articles to keep the paper visually engaging and easy to navigate.
  • Educational Material — Everything from school textbooks to educational posters and displays to education brochures has an art director on staff to keep the content fresh and stimulate learner’s interests!
  • Professional Publications — Corporate reports, science reports, technology reports, and more all go through the art director to make decisions on the layout that makes intricate information more comprehensible to readers.

Interior Design

Art directors are also instrumental in creating stunning, beautiful, and functional spaces in places that you may have visited before.

They work with architects and designers to bring interior design concepts to life to create comfortable environments for customers, employees, guests, and other visitors.

Here are some spaces where an art director may have been in charge of creating:

  • Restaurants — An inviting atmosphere is important for establishments that want to encourage people to spend their leisure time with them. An art director plays a role in designing the interior of restaurants, including colors, flooring, decorations, and more.
  • Hotels — A beautifully decorated hotel is one that encourages guests to stay in. An art director works with a team of interior designers to make sure that everything from the lobby to the conference rooms is stylish and welcoming.
  • Retail — The right look and layout can attract and engage customers. An art director has a say in the interior design of a store, often by season, to create a memorable and unique shopping experience for their customers.
  • Offices and Facilities —  If you work in a nice fancy office building, you probably have an art director to thank for the layout, lighting, and color schemes. Everything from healthcare facilities to corporate buildings was carefully designed to be as visually pleasing as possible.
  • Public Spaces — Art directors play an important role in designing public spaces like museums, schools, universities, galleries, community centers, and event venues to make sure they are visually appealing and draw in a crowd.
  • Wellness — That relaxing vibe of your favorite spa? You have an art director and a team of interior designers to thank. They work together to create a tranquil atmosphere that starts from the second you walk into the lobby.

Entertainment

In the entertainment industry, a good art director is a valuable member of the team that contributes heavily to visual storytelling.

They work closely with directors, set designers, production designers, and costume designers to make sure all visuals are spot-on and align with the narrative. 

If you’ve ever experienced any of the following, you probably noticed a credit for an art director included in the fine print!

  • Film, TV, and Theater — Art directors are essential for creating the look and feel of a production. They collaborate with directors, production designers, set decorators, and stage designers to oversee the set construction and make sure all visual elements align with the director’s vision. They also make decisions regarding props, colors, lighting, and overall visual aesthetics. Whether it’s a summer blockbuster, a music video on MTV, or a Broadway musical, the art director plays a key role in achieving the look of the final product.
  • Fashion Shows — Art directors in the fashion industry spend countless hours creating the visual design for the theme and backdrops of runway shows and other fashion presentations. They work with set designers and others to create the perfect stage design, lighting, and choreography.
  • Video Games —  An art director is heavily involved in the visual style of the video games we love to place. They work with a team of artists and designers to create the look of characters, environments, and user interface to better align with the game’s mood and enhance the player experience.
  • Live Events — It’s an art director's job to make sure that all visual aspects of live events like concerts, conferences, exhibitions, and more have the best stage design, lighting, and multimedia presentations available. 
  • Attractions — If you’ve marveled at the attraction design of theme parks like Disneyland or Universal Studios, that’s because an art director helped to create the look and feel of everything from the rides to the gift shops to the storefronts that line each street.

Why Your Marketing Campaign Needs an Art Director

A rocket blasting off.

There should be no question that an art director plays a pivotal role in the visual aspects of many things that we enjoy every day.

And if you’re a marketer who’s been wondering if you really do need an art director in charge of your content creation team, then we’re here to tell you that yes. Yes, you do.

Here are some things that an art director can bring to your team:

Consistent Branding

Your art director is in charge of setting the bar line for the creative team. They have the work experience necessary to know the quality of content they’re looking for and they won’t settle for anything less than a polished and professional look.

They’ll stick to your brand guidelines to keep all of your collateral and messaging consistent to help your brand create and maintain a unique brand identity. 

And if your brand doesn’t have a brand guidebook, they can oversee the creation of these important guidelines to ensure nothing but consistency.

Successful Campaigns

The art director is also key to a successful marketing or advertising campaign. 

They carefully study the brands they work with and shape the creative vision of their marketing and advertising campaigns so that they’re perfectly aligned with the brand’s long-term goals.

They also help keep marketing campaigns within the client’s budgets by making sure that the creative team is cost-effective and using resources wisely. An important person to have on the team!

A Strong Online Presence

Everything is digital these days so, more than ever, it’s crucial that your brand has a strong online presence with websites, social media, and landing pages.

An art director oversees the web designing process to ensure that your websites and landing pages are effective, persuasive, and give your customer an excellent user experience.

They also oversee email campaigns, ensuring that the email templates are appealing, easy to navigate, and contain the right messaging. They are experienced with social media marketing and can oversee a creative team that is in charge of the creation and distribution of engaging and valuable social media content to attract new followers and build a community around your brand.

Top-Notch Print and Collateral

We mentioned a little earlier that the art director has an important role in the creation of the physical print collateral a brand distributes, like brochures, flyers, OOH advertising (bus stops, billboards, displays, etc.), and other promotional materials.

They’ll keep your collateral looking sharp and make sure your printed assets are on brand, appealing, and have perfect layout, typography, color palette, graphic elements, illustrations, and photography before sending them off to the printers.

Effective Collaboration with Creative Teams

The art director is also a team player.

They work with creatives, like copywriters, designers, and photographers to keep content creation on brand and of the highest quality. 

They’re responsible for your creative team’s time management as well and are the ones who assign tasks, set deadlines, and make sure the team has a clear understanding of objectives and responsibilities.

In addition to keeping the creative team producing quality content, the art director acts as a leader and mentor, providing guidance, feedback, and support throughout the project, often acting as the go-between for creatives and chief creative officers

They foster a collaborative and inspiring work environment, encourage open communication, and promote the exchange of ideas and feedback among the team to keep the creative juices flowing and everyone working together in harmony.

Project Management

One of the most important aspects of your marketing and advertising art director is project management.

Art directors often manage multiple marketing projects at once, keeping track of deadlines and keeping everything and everyone on schedule. Art directors also help with budgets and timelines to keep the project and the team running smoothly and efficiently.

They oversee all parts of the content production process from copywriters to web developers and printers to make sure the final product matches the artistic, visual, and quality standards they set for their work.

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Looking for That Special Someone?

If you’ve now decided that your brand could definitely use the skills and expertise of an art director, only you can’t afford one, then we’re right there with you.

Art directors are skilled professionals with tons of work experience and talent and, if your business is on the smaller side, hiring one and paying the average US salary of $145,000 plus benefits a year might not be feasible.

There is another solution though.

Designity is made up of the top 3% of US-based talent, and partnering with us gives you access to every type of creative expert you can think of from copywriters to designers to video editors, all of them working under the close guidance and expertise of your designated Creative Directors.

Much like art directors, your Creative Director is responsible for the overall creative direction of your marketing campaigns and will oversee the creation of market assets like web pages, print collateral, digital ads, and anything else your campaign needs.

They’ll work closely with you to ensure that all deliverables are of the highest quality and reflective of the brand image you want your target audience to see.

And with three straightforward plans to choose from, you’ll get all of these services for much less than it would take to hire on an in-house team or art director.

So, if you’re ready to see what our Creative Directors can do for your brand, then why not give us a try?

Have a look at our portfolio, see if we’re a match, and then book your demo call today.

Are you ready to elevate your creative marketing game?

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Sara, a Designity content writer.
About the author:
Sara Lopez
Sara is a Texas-based copywriter.
Interested in content collaboration? Email at press@designity.com
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