Art directors execute conceptual ideas in graphic design, advertising, publishing, film, television, video games and other related industries. Even if you have the skills and experience to create a good resume, you still need some guidance about writing the best one for the job you want. Take a look at this page to improve your chances of getting that job; start by checking out the three different standard resume formats below to choose the one that best suits you.
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Job duties of an art director
Known for setting the projects’ artistic tone, the art director adds life to various design elements by expressing their ideas to other designers and coordinating work with other creative departments.
Some of their most common duties include:
Determining resources to be utilized, such as photographs, artwork and other design elements.
Understanding marketing initiatives, strategic positioning and target audiences.
Reviewing project production factors, such as background information, objectives, budget, styles and techniques to deliver high-quality products.
Generating design ideas through effective communication with copywriters.
Producing attractive layouts based on designs by creative directors.
Communicating with clients and presenting designs for their approval.
Developing detailed budget plans and schedules for meetups, monitoring expense poses and implementing decisions for cost-cutting.
Resolving operational problems and identifying work process improvements.
Improving the output design quality by evaluating and redesigning.
Art director median salaries
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says an art director’s median salary is around $94,220 a year as of May 2020. This job’s career growth depends on job specialties in fields like advertising and public relations firms.
Top skills for art directors
An eye for design and mastery of design toolsAs an art director, your primary responsibility is to conceptualize and deliver visuals or other media across multiple mediums for marketing campaigns. For this, you must first and foremost be a designer and master designing software. Adobe Creative Suite is usually what you’d use to design aesthetic pieces of content, especially Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Animate. During some projects, you will be giving feedback and suggestions on designs made by your team, so having a good sense of aesthetics and communicating how to execute your requests is essential.
Marketing and advertising expertiseArt directors must have a solid understanding of digital marketing, advertising and data analytics because they provide visual and media deliverables for their companies. This includes mastery in developing and adhering to branding and design standards, Google and Facebook ads best practices, public relations, sales funnels, social media and more. To get the targeted conversions of a marketing campaign, you must be familiar with your target customers. For this purpose, you will need knowledge in data analytics to measure reach, impact, engagement and even search engine optimization (SEO).
Effective leadershipAn art director must conceive design ideas, execute and delegate to their team. You must lead the creative teams and motivate them to do their best work by empowering them and avoiding falling into micromanagement practices. As an effective leader, you must trust your team to get the job done and guide them by offering feedback on best design practices, giving praise where praise is due and critiquing when necessary.
Project managementArt directors work on all project stages, from inception to end, knowledge of project management practices and software is essential for on-time project completion. Having a good grasp of fundamental management concepts and strategies will allow you to work effectively with your team and project managers. Despite not being the official project manager, avoiding “scope creep” to keep the project running on time and within budget are essential functions of an art director.
Interpersonal skillsListening to your team, clients and colleagues allow art directors to grasp a project’s full scope. This is important because an art director must create assets and deliverables that meet client expectations and satisfy demands. You should tactfully address objections and present solutions when collaborating with graphic designers, copywriters, videographers, strategists, production designers and other team members. Once they understand the project’s scope, art directors must also communicate their vision and strategy effectively to get it executed. You’ll also have to create a healthy work environment where everyone feels open to sharing — this is crucial for productivity, creativity and employee work satisfaction.
Educational requirements for art directors
DegreeA bachelor's degree in Design, Fine Arts, Graphic Design or any art-related subject is the minimum educational qualification required for becoming an art director. Though most art directors have a bachelor's degree, some aspiring ones get master’s in Arts, Fine Arts or Business to gain a competitive edge. For this role, you can pursue a degree from any of the 360 accredited universities by the National Association of School of Art and Design (NASAD). This organization of schools, colleges and universities lays out standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees.
If you’re interested in pursuing a B.A. in graphic design, you can check out programs offered by Southern New Hampshire University, North Carolina State University and Full Sail University, or take a look at the list of art schools compiled by The Art Career Project.
Already have a BFA or similar qualifying degree and prefer to pursue a master’s degree to pursue executive roles instead? In that case, you should consider the Master’s in Strategic Communication and Leadership from Maryville University or opt for a dual degree such as a Master of Fine Arts and Master of Business Administration from NYU. Alternatively, to acquire managerial skills and business acumen, you can also pursue a Master's of Business Administration from Harvard University, Stanford Graduate School of Business or Boston University.
Along with a degree, one needs to have sufficient work experience in the art industry as a graphic designer, photographer or visual artist before becoming an art director.
CertificationIf you already have a qualifying B.A. and would like to enhance your skills to give your candidacy a boost, a certification might just be what you need. Certificates in Art, Design, Journalism and similar other concentrations can give you an added advantage by enhancing your credibility and can help you land a high-paying job.
Technology companies: The most popular software collection in graphic design is Adobe Creative Suite, so it’s beneficial to get certified as an Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Alternatively, you could consider becoming an Adobe Certified Professional, Expert or Master. Some roles also ask for UX/UI design software such as Sketch Master and Figma, so if the part you have an eye on asks for these, you must master them even though they don’t offer official certifications.
Member associations: Art directors are expected to master multiple mediums, so doing a specialized course in disciplines such as multimedia, print design, web publishing, typography and 3D design can enhance your qualifications. Joining professional membership organizations such as The American Institute of Graphic Arts, the International Council of Design and the Graphic Arts Guild, you can find globally recognized courses in many of these areas. To find one that best suits your needs, you can also check out this list of professional organizations from UCLA on Design Media Arts.
For-profit educational platforms: Skillshare, Coursera, Udemy and edX offer self-paced courses that help learners acquire new skills. Some of their courses give you a certification while others don’t. If your goal is to get certified make sure you select ones that lead to certification. As an art director, you’ll be working inside a wide range of mediums, including but not limited to illustration, photography, 3D, video, animation, typography, journalism and UX/UI design. You’ll also be working across multiple marketing and communications channels such as web, app stores, social media, event, email, video, advertising and a little bit of print. Out of all of these, there’s sure to be a few you’re interested in to get certified or take courses to develop the skills you’ll need to strengthen your resume.
You can also check out Creative Beacon, which offers educational articles and courses on creative digital arts and marketing.
A certification like the Google Project Management Certificate offered by Coursera is an excellent option to enhance your management and organizational skills, better work on projects with your team and collaborate with project managers more effectively.
Art director resume-writing tips
While writing your resume, make sure that the resume reflects your abilities, skills and past experiences related to your work in the art industry. The following tips will improve the chances of landing your desired interview.
- Pitch yourself with a strong summary. Pitch yourself to your potential employer in two to three sentences where you can include your related skills, accomplishments and past experiences. Cite your past work experiences using numbers while writing your summary statement to highlight the number of years you have been working or how many projects you have worked on.
- Incorporate design and marketing-related keywords. Major companies employ an applicant tracking system (ATS) to select applications from applicants. The ATS qualifies and filters those resumes with required keywords as pointed out by companies in their job descriptions. Ensure that you include the keywords in your resume related to the job requirements of the position you want, such as creative design, team leader, marketing and management, to add more relevance to your resume. Adding keywords will help your resume clear the screening test.
- Emphasize your achievement and KPI’s. Although mentioning your previous experiences and achievements adds relevancy to your resume, quantifying and highlighting your past can strengthen your job candidacy. You should say the number of projects completed within a specified time limit and related key performance indicator (KPI) values like increased engagement rate/conversion rate and reduction in the bounce rate gained by your client.
Who do you define as an art director?
Art directors are responsible for creating designs that are sure to convey the right message to their clients' customers. They develop strategies and presentations for their clients in the visual media industries, including print media, broadcasting and film. They work under the art department of an organization and handle multiple projects with a team of junior artists and designers. They are adept at understanding their client's target audiences and producing work that resonates with the ongoing marketing and industry trends.
How do you initiate your career as an art director?
Apart from earning degrees to acquire a position as an art director, you need to develop fresh ideas and have a solid artistic view. Art directors should be able to match the pace of emerging trends and adapt themselves to deliver high-quality results. Your dedication and detail-oriented nature will take you ahead in producing eye-catching visuals.
Is art director a promising career?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an art director's employment will decline by 2% from 2019 to 2029. The projected result is mainly due to the increasing demand for digital media and decreasing demand for print media. For a passionate art director, the rising demand for work in digital media provides an enticing opportunity to shift paths into a bright career in the field.