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How Do I Become an Art Director?

Individuals who have an interest and art as well as leadership qualities often wonder how they can become an art director. While we tend to think of people who can draw when we hear the word “art,” many art directors do not know how to draw yet still possess an interest in different types of art. Another misconception about art directors is that they all have a specific degree. Although most art directors do possess a degree in art or a similar field, some are actually hired without a degree if they have the talent and experience in this field. Here is an overview of what art directors do and what they can expect in the career.

What it Takes to Become an Art Director

Although some art directors may be hired without a degree, a bachelor’s degree is generally the degree required for this position. The baccalaureate degree is usually in art or art design. The candidate must also have some work experience. Those who know they want to become art directors or managers often pursue a Master’s of Fine Art. Work experience is very important in this job because art directors work alongside other artists and graphic designers. In most cases, the art director has at least five years of experience working in an artistic setting before actually becoming art directors. They also have a portfolio of their creations to show to potential employers.

What Art Directors Do

Art directors have many duties as part of their job because they are the professionals responsible for how an idea or product is represented. They speak with clients to collaborate on the exact artistic style and concept required as well as determining the timelines and budget. They determine which art, pictures or design elements should be used to get the overall style or look required by the client.

Art directors may work on a television, movie or theater set, for an advertising campaign or a specific publication. Once they’ve determined what artistic media should be used, they determine the best way to present the concept. They also oversee the work of the design team, including set designers, graphic designers or similar members of the design staff.

The work environment for an art director depends on if the individual works for a company or is self-employed. While some work as part of a team of designers, more than 50 percent are self-employed. Because art directors are usually working under pressure to get the job done by a specific deadline, their work is usually done in a fast-paced work environment.

Career Outlook for Art Directors

Employment of art directors working in the publishing industry is expected to decline by 10 percent during the years 2018-2028 because digital media, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), are replacing many print publications. Art directors overall are expected to see little change in employment growth but will continue to be in demand to oversee the work of graphic designers, photographers, illustrators and similar artistic workers.

The heavy use of art directors in the movie and television industry will continue to result in art directing being a competitive field. As of May 2018, art director wages ranged from $52,160 to $172,570 with the average annual wage at $104,590. The highest wages earned by art directors were in the states of California, New York, Georgia, Oregon and Washington.

Art directors typically have the potential to have an exciting career because they may work not just in educational settings but also for television and movie productions. Their talent and work determine the overall background appearance of an art-based setting. It’s also a career chosen by aspiring artists once they determine what it takes to become an art director.

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