In the advertising industry, an art director is responsible for generating visual concepts in response to clients’ briefs. This covers all media platforms, including:
– digital communications, websites, mobile apps and emails
– marketing materials
– press advertising
– television and video
– logos and branding
Often working in partnership with a copywriter who produces the written content, the art director will seek to influence changes in audience behaviour through ideas, creativity and the use of media.
The advertising art director usually works on creative projects from inception to completion and has overall sign-off on the appearance of the final product. Agencies depend on their art directors for the development of their visual offering; championing and selling creative work. Actively evolving design strategies which promote excellence, an art director will also be the point-of-contact for work moving through the creative studio.
The specific details of an art director’s role will vary somewhat from employer to employer, but common activities include:
- Introducing and applying expert art direction to the visual elements of creative projects
- Ensuring a high standard of visual execution across all media and campaigns
- Inspiring and motivating the agency’s clients to be creatively progressive, through the application of fresh and inventive visual work
- Reviewing the work of designers and providing direction and feedback
- Taking ownership of the visual elements of creative work for new business pitches
- Uncovering new ways to incorporate emerging and new media formats into campaigns.
Every agency and client will be looking for slightly different resources, so an art director needs a wide range of design and creative capabilities. These include:
- a strong knowledge of typography, image manipulation, illustration and animation
- a broad understanding of marketing design and layout will also be expected
- the ability to generate a reliable supply of original ideas and visual concepts
- the confidence to explain and support your thinking, both internally and externally
- a flexible approach and willingness to adapt your ideas to the needs of clients
- a passion for advertising and commercial art
- a keen eye for visual details and accuracy
- the resilience to perform under pressure and deliver high-quality work to tight deadlines.
- high level IT skills in the latest art and design packages
- a good awareness of digital media and evolving online platforms
- an innovative approach to the media and the ways in which advertising is carried
All art directors need to be adept at presenting their work in an inspiring way. This is particularly important when a project is a new business pitch or campaign launch.
When embarking on a career as an art director, or applying for a new position, employers will usually want to browse a portfolio of your work – so it’s always a good idea to retain copies of projects of which you’re particularly proud. If you are just starting out, try to team up with an aspiring copywriter to put together some examples of your abilities.