With an artistic eye and keen sense of leadership, a successful art director has the know-how to take a client’s visual brand to the next level.
In charge of the look and feel of campaigns and promotional materials, this position requires the creativity and attentiveness of an experienced artist. Art directors have their hand in managing all aspects of a project, from the beginning concepts, design elements and copy to timelines and team collaboration.
But it takes more than creative vision and artistic experience. This role requires stellar leadership skills, too. When working with team members – possibly across departments – to complete a marketing and advertising initiative, an art director needs to draw on communication and collaboration skills to best strategize, manage and execute the visual stylings of a winning marketing or advertising campaign. Here's a look at the typical art director job description and average art director salary.
Art director salary benchmarks
According to The Creative Group 2019 Salary Guide, the midpoint salary for an art director is $85,750. (For an interactive art director role, the midpoint starting salary is $92,000.) Use our Salary Calculator to find out what an art director can make in your city.
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Art director duties and expectations
The art director manages a creative initiative from start to finish, guiding a cross-functional creative team in the conception, design and execution of visual materials. The role varies depending on the industry, and many art directors have added digital projects to their repertoire. But in most cases, the following responsibilities can be expected:
- Leads the artistic development of marketing and promotional pieces, including print, online, mobile, television and radio advertisements; collateral materials; and internal and external corporate publications
- Supervises a team of graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, production artists and creative freelancers
- Collaborates with members of the marketing or media buying team to develop strategies for advertising campaigns
- Works with copywriters to develop strategies for advertising campaigns
- Creates presentations and project plans, meets with clients, and ensures successful online representation of clients’ brands
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Professional experience and skills
Knowledge of print, broadcast and digital communications is a must for an art director position. This person should know the ins and outs of the latest marketing and creative trends, identifying where the company or clients can implement new initiatives. At least five to eight years of design-related work is typically required, as well as experience leading a team with a range of creative positions, such as photographers, illustrators, designers, copywriters, production artists and more. Stellar candidates have a strong knowledge of creative tools, such as Adobe Creative Suite, and some understanding of coding for digital projects.
Because an art director works so closely with a variety of employees, it’s crucial that they possess top-notch communication, collaboration, problem-solving and project-management skills. These key soft skills help art directors manage time and resources efficiently while inspiring originality and creative thinking in the process.
This post has been updated to reflect more current information.