Hot Job: Production Artist

Illustration of the words "production artist."

A keen eye for detail along with a healthy mix of creative and technical know-how makes the production artist an indispensable — and in-demand — part of the creative team.

While the earliest production artists performed paste-up duties for the advertising industry, the position has evolved to include prepress work for both print and digital projects. Today’s production artist assists design teams primarily in producing print, packaging, advertising, point-of-purchase and digital graphics. The most common duty for a production artist is preflight formatting, in addition to collecting, processing, checking and uploading files.

A successful production artist must possess a mix of both creative and technical skills. They must be able to work quickly but also remain extremely detail-oriented.

Here’s a look at the production artist salary range and job description.

Production artist salary benchmarks

The average starting salary range for a production artist with one to three years of experience is $37,250 to $54,250, according to The Creative Group Salary Guide. The average starting salary range for a production artist with three or more years of experience is $50,250 to $70,750. (Use our Salary Calculator to adjust these salaries for your city.)

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Production artist duties and expectations

While an art director comes up with creative concepts and a graphic designer executes them, it’s the production artist who brings them to life. That’s why strong typographic and layout skills, strict attention to detail, and outstanding organizational, project management, file-organization and archiving skills are a must.

The production artist job description often includes the ability to:

  • Collaborate closely with art directors, designers and developers
  • Prepare final press-ready files based on supplied specifications for several types of printing
  • Make various formats of supplied artwork production-ready and resolve any artwork issues that arise during production
  • Provide image retouching, clipping paths and additional image manipulation
  • Package and preflight files for release to printers or media partners
  • Create PDFs for print and client review
  • Conduct press checks
  • Prepare images for online and mobile applications
  • Catalog and reference art for future projects
  • Follow a development timeline to ensure tasks are being completed on time
  • Troubleshoot problems as they arise with both the creative team and the printer

Professional experience and skills

A bachelor’s degree in design or other related positions is preferred for the production artist position. Significant course work in graphic design, print production, visual arts or a related field, along with an outstanding portfolio and experience that demonstrates clear knowledge of print production and design, may suffice in the absence of a degree.

A production artist must have a solid knowledge of printing processes and should be adept with software applications such as FlightCheck, the Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office.

Experience with digital content such as websites, social media, online advertising and email campaigns may be required, along with basic knowledge of HTML 5, Adobe After Effects and web-development software.

A production artist should have strong analytical skills, excellent verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to handle multiple projects in a fast-paced environment. These creative professionals should also be process-oriented self-starters. And they must stay up to date with new production techniques and trends through research and education.

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