Art Director is a higher-order hierarchical position in the creative sector of diverse fields like marketing, fashion, film, advertising, video games, etc. Art directors are creative heads of the respective fields as mentioned above. There is this thin line between an art director and a creative director. Creative directors are the ones who are responsible for coming up with concepts whereas the art director does the execution of those ideas with his/her team. Art directors take the final call on the choices made by the team, and overall manage the project and guide it to execution. 

The following discussions help one to find if an art director is something that is within them and how to go about pursuing or leveling up if you are already into one. 

Career Guide: Art Director Sheet1
ART-DIRECTOR co-ordinating the team_©orangecrush 

Role of an Art Director

So, who exactly is an art director, and what do they do? Almost every creative profession has a person in the position of an art director, the main job of an art director is to bring the imaginative pictures and concepts of the crew members into one solid idea that. Art directors are leaders of the creative crew. An efficient art director is the one who can find the proficiency of every crew member and bring out the best in them. It is an attractive job but the role and responsibility imposed on them differ from field to field and sometimes differ respectively by how big the firm or studio is.

At times when the firm doesn’t hire a creative director then the art director takes up the responsibility as the creative director as well.

Art directors deal with how to give life to the ideas that are ideated in the minds of the creatives in a better way to satisfy the client’s requirements and to attract the target audience. They are in charge of the overall mood that the project creates, using better communicative and visual skills by understanding the psychology of the target audience or the end-users. The styles that the project is to use, the elements that are to be incorporated are all finally decided by the art director. Art directors work more with people. So, emotional intelligence is equally important to creative flair. If this role as an art director intrigues you, keep reading further to know more about this profession. 

Career Guide: Art Director Sheet2
team discussing various aspects with art director_©

Evolution of the Art director profession

The technological intervention did not spare art as well. Former years art directors were from the art background who had to do and learn the technicalities of painting, photography, writing, and everything required for better communication. It was all hands-on working. Projects were worked on in 2D. Art directors back then had to explore various streams, to capture the techniques and the essence of working.

They had to work dedicatedly for years to master the arts. Now in recent times, art directors hardly have to draw or write as they manage the overall aspects of the projects and the details are done by the team. Art directors these days are working on the conceptual level of the projects and manage to blend in the ideas that are brought to the table. Certainly, the shift has its advantages and disadvantages like any other profession.

Career Scope of Art Director

With the blurring of professional boundaries and the swift shift that is seen everywhere, self-employment provides one with the kind of security for life. Though the initial years are tedious, the experience gained over time strengthens a person all around. And the technological intervention has brought down mediums like print and newspapers for which art directors were hired. Yet it has made the digital medium flourish making it reachable for a large crowd audience. 

For whatever goes on the internet, maybe blogs, digital magazines, articles, advertisements, video industry, etc., needs visually appealing elements to engage people, this is where the creative gigs come to work and later step up as art directors.   

Qualification and skills required as Art Director

A bachelor’s degree in design or bachelor of art or fine arts is the minimum qualification to enter into the field, and level up through experience. Art directors should have gained experience of being an illustrator, graphic designer, or any occupation related to art and design. A number of the art directors are self-employed, followed by people who work in the advertising departments. 

When it comes to the skill requirement, communication skills, teamwork, leadership, time management, and creativity are the top qualities that employers look for while hiring an art director. Portfolios to summarize and showcase their talents and interests are a must as they serve as an entry gateway to the interview session.  

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skills required to be an art director_©

Top countries to pursue Art Direction

United States of America

The USA tops the list as it hires a lot of creatives, being a country that craves newness now and then. The average salary of an experienced person in the field is estimated to be $141,000 per annum, whereas a person with lesser experience can expect a salary of $93,000 a year.

New Zealand 

An average salary of $122,000 per annum is credited to the creative heads. New Zealand is one of the countries that contributes more to the creative flair of the people and also does pay well for the same.


A country that tops the highest paying countries in almost every field no wonder made it to this list as well. It pays the art directors with a good sum of salary of $114,000 on an average for an annum. The country’s atmosphere makes any creative person have the urge to visit it at least once in their lifetime.

Online Courses for Art Direction

Learning has become free in most cases and is becoming affordable and in this digital era, online courses are becoming a part of every human being either to learn new things in their free time and reach the next level in their profession or to go after their passion. When it comes to art direction, giving a generalized suggestion on online courses to pursue becomes a bit tricky, as it depends upon the sector or the department that they chose to work in. 

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practising along with the online course_©

Graphic design can be considered fundamental for today’s digital world. And almost every skill needed to become an art director can be acquired through online courses provided by various platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and skillshare. Depending on individuals’ interests, design or art courses can be chosen. And some universities provide professional online degree programs and distant learning programs for various design and art courses.


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Stephy is an intrigued explorer of various paradigms of Architecture, choosing writing as a catharsis to her never ending thoughts.