- Determine how best to represent a concept visually
- Determine which photographs, art, or other design elements to use
- Develop the overall look or style of a publication, an advertising campaign, or a theater, television, or film set
- Supervise design staff
- Review and approve designs, artwork, photography, and graphics developed by staff members
- Talk to clients to develop an artistic approach and style
- Coordinate activities with other artistic or creative departments
- Develop detailed budgets and timelines
- Present designs to clients for approval
Art directors typically oversee the work of other designers and artists who produce images for television, film, live performances, advertisements, or video games. They determine the overall style or tone desired for each project and articulate their vision to artists who submit images, such as illustrations, graphics, photographs, charts and graphs, or stage and movie sets. Art directors work with art and design staffs in advertising agencies, public relations firms, and book, magazine, or newspaper publishers to create designs and layouts.
They also work with producers and directors of theater, television, or movie productions to oversee set designs. Their work requires them to understand the design elements of projects, inspire other creative workers, and keep projects on budget and on time. Sometimes, they are responsible for developing the budgets and timelines.
In publishing , art directors typically oversee the page layout of newspapers and magazines. They also choose the cover art for books and periodicals. Often, this work includes Web publications. In advertising and public relations, art directors ensure that their clients’ desired message and image is conveyed to consumers. Art directors are responsible for the overall visual aspects of an advertising or media campaign and may coordinate the work of other artistic or design staff, such as graphic designers. In movie production, art directors collaborate with directors to determine what sets will be needed for the film and what style or look the sets should have. They hire and supervise a staff of assistant art directors or set designers to complete designs.
Many art directors start out as graphic, industrial, or set designers or in another art occupation, such as fine artists or photographers. They gain the appropriate education for that occupation, usually earning a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
To supplement their work experience in those occupations and show their ability to take on a more creative or a more managerial role, some complete a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
Art directors often work for 3 to 5 years in another occupation before being selected for positions as art directors. Depending upon the industry, they may work as graphic designers, illustrators, copyeditors, photographers, or in another art or design occupation, before becoming art directors.
For many artists, including art directors, developing a portfolio—a collection of an artist’s work that demonstrates his or her styles and abilities—is essential. Managers, clients, and others look at an artist’s portfolio when they are deciding whether to hire the person or contract for his or her work.