jobs / Jobs/career

What is Art Direction?

art direction book


I borrowed the book – Basic Advertising 02: Art Direction, by Nik Mahon – so I could learn more about the role and how it differs from creative direction. I really like The AVA Series of books, they’ve got a really practical and easy to read series for applied visual arts.

What is the job:

  • an art director literally directs the visual elements of any communication media – print, moving image, digital…
  • the role is most commonly found in the advertising industry
  • you’ll be responsible for the ‘look’ of an advert – not just looking pretty but making sure it does its job and communication objectives are met
  • “The ad is the cake. The art direction is the icing.” Steve Dunn, Art Director – art direction is the means the creative idea is visually expressed, but it is not a substitute for the idea
  • a strong central idea is the key to success
  • good art direction works hand in hand with copy writing, and art directors work in a team with a copywriter
  • art direction determines the relationship between headline and image
  • the role starts with idea production, then into production once approved by the client
  • you will work with a wide range of creatives, including typographers, illustrators, photographer, film makers…

The book also talks about Creative Directors:

  • they decide which teams do what briefs
  • they make key decision regarding which ideas are progressed

In terms of getting a job as an Art Director:

  • it may take a while – be tough and take the knocks on the chin!
  • may need to already need to be in a team with a copywriter
  • need work examples in your book
  • avoid puns and innuendo in your examples
  • make sure your work stands out from others
  • use 6-8 campaigns comprise of at least 3-4 ideas that demonstrate campaignability
  • First impressions count – don’t be defensive about your work, show your creative talent as well as your passion, persistence, energy and hunger
  • you’ll probably do lots of work experience and internships before you get a job, just keep getting them lined up, don’t wait for one to be over before thinking about the next one

Places to go for help and more information


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