Are you looking for an exciting career that represents the perfect way to marry your love of art with your passion for bringing other people’s visions to life? If so, a career as an art director may be ideal for you. Read on to learn more about what an art director does, the qualifications that every good art director has, and what freelance tools are out there that can help bring your career as an art director to the next level.
What Does An Art Director Do?
Art directors are responsible for serving as the liaison between a client with a specific need and the graphic designers who are capable of bringing a creative vision to life to meet that need. What does that actually mean? Well, while a creative director will dream up a creative vision that they want to bring to life, an art director will sit down and actually figure out how to make that vision a reality. The art director is the one who is responsible for bringing a team of artists on board, communicating the vision to them, and helping to manage the entire project.
Art direction is the perfect career for someone who’s interested in both the artistic side of the design process, as they get to work with and manage a team of artists to execute a creative vision, as well as the business side of things, since they work closely with design clients to ensure that they’re receiving their deliverables on time and under budget. The day-to-day life of an art director is varied, fast-paced, and perfect for anyone who enjoys challenging themselves.
What Qualifications Does An Art Director Need To Have?
Fortunately, because art directors thrive in a creative field, there’s no one path to take in order to become an art director. Generally, all art directors need to have a college degree, with most possessing a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and some having earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. Many art directors transition to becoming an art director after first spending several years as an artist, such as a photographer, graphic designer, or fine artist. This artistic career is important for generating a portfolio of your work that can be shown to prospective clients to demonstrate your aesthetic and artistic vision.
Beyond educational qualifications, all art directors must also possess a wide variety of additional characteristics. Successful art directors are well-versed in design, as well as different programs and styles of design; additionally, they are good at communicating, time management, budgeting, and leadership. Because 56% of art directors are self-employed, it is also extremely important for art directors to be capable of managing their time and money. Fortunately, there are freelance platforms that provide tools to create graphic design contracts, keep track of clients and projects, and more.
How Can You Launch A Career As An Art Director?
As stated above, there is no single correct path that one must take in order to become an art director. One possible route is to work as a graphic designer or copywriter at a company until eventually being promoted to a management position. Alternatively, you can start your own trial run as an art director by looking for graphic design projects that involve collaborating with other artists and overseeing the projects yourself. These projects can be your own or somebody else’s; all that matters is that you gain some experience in managing other designers to create a finished product instead of simply creating it yourself. As with many careers in the arts, the best way to determine if becoming an art director is right for you is simply by trying it out for yourself.
If you don’t feel quite ready to engage in managing a series of artists to bring a project to life, you can always try to establish and run a design review group. Simply assemble a group of designers and set a time to meet once a week or even once a month to review each other’s work and provide feedback to each other. You’ll learn how to give feedback in a constructive, meaningful way, and when you’re ready to begin your career as an art director, you’ll have a great pool of talent from which to draw.
Finally, if you’re currently working as a designer, another way you can experiment with what it’s like to become an art director is to try talking to your current design clients about their wants and needs. Instead of simply creating a website for your client, talk to them and determine if their needs could be better suited by a well-designed piece of physical media, such as a print ad. Starting to think like an art director will impress your clients and start to give you the experience you need to take the next step in your career.