How Do I Become an Art Director?

Explore the career requirements for art directors. Get the facts about job duties, degree requirements, career outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Art Director?

Art directors work in partnership with other professionals to develop the visuals for a variety of different media. They may work for magazines, film or television productions, advertising agencies and more. Art directors typically meet and work closely with clients or directors to figure out the best way to visually represent the desired concepts. They may also work with graphic designers, costume designers and other creative workers to create the visual effects for a particular project. These professionals must work within a strict budget and timeline, and their plans usually require approval from the client, director or other executives. An overview of the job duties, useful skills, employment outlook and salary potential for art directors is provided below.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree at minimum; master's degree can be helpful
Education Field of Study Art, fine arts, design
Key Responsibilities Oversee artistic direction of print or electronic publication, supervise design staff, present design ideas to clients, approve artwork by designers and photographers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%*
Median Salary (2015) $89,760*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Kind of Education Do I Need?

Art directors usually need some kind of postsecondary education. A Bachelor of Arts in Art can allow you to fine-tune your artistic techniques while pursuing additional education in another field. A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree typically focuses on artistic development in art studios, though art history and related courses are also commonly required. You can also pursue a Master of Arts in Art or a Master of Fine Arts, depending on whether you'd like to study art's role in society or focus on your artistic skills. Master of Arts programs are available in arts administration, too.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), art directors need extensive work experience in addition to formal education. You might need to start in entry-level positions designing advertising campaigns or publications. The film industry also hires artists for various jobs, the BLS reported.

What Will My Duties Be?

Art directors review, develop and design items that may appear in a variety of media. As an art director, you can expect to work with artists and technical professionals to complete projects. You might audition and pick artists and oversee their progress. Working for one or more bosses, you could be charged with coming up with the ultimate visual concept of a project. Art directors also work for a museum or gallery as fine arts directors, helping to curate exhibits and oversee installations.

What Traits Does an Art Director Need?

Art directors need a deep understanding of artistic techniques and the creative process to be successful in their jobs. You need to be able to effectively lead a team of artists and communicate with them to produce quality creative materials. A working knowledge of business practices, financial protocol and project management techniques are also important.

What is the Future of this Field?

According to the BLS, jobs in artistic direction should increase by 2% between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than the national average for all occupations. Some newspaper and other print periodicals have gone out of business in recent years due to the popularity of Internet-based publications. Still, advertising agencies could provide more job openings for art directors. Artists who can produce multimedia work could also be in demand, reported the BLS. As of May 2015, art directors made a median salary of $89,760, according to BLS data.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For those looking for related careers that still require creativity, you may wish to further research multimedia arts and animation, fashion design and writing. All of these positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Multimedia artists and animators design the visual effects and/or animations for video games, movies and more. Fashion designers design and create new clothing and accessories from original sketches. They also select the materials to be used and are closely involved in the marketing of their product. Writers and authors develop stories and other written content for all types of media. They may write books, songs, magazine articles and more.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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