How to Become an Art Director

What is an art director?
Art directors are professionals who are responsible for the images and visuals found in places such as magazine, newspapers, item packaging, film, and television. Their main task is to create and develop the overall design and oversee the workers who then develop the art and layout based on the initial design. Sometimes art directors are also known as creative directors, while the names are interchanged, their roles and duties are the same.
What are the educational requirements to become an art director?
For those who are interested in this career field, it is ideal to focus on an education in graphic or visual design. Marketing is another major that an art director may want to look into as well, since branding and product packaging is a certain area of specialization. Many employers look and prefer for potential candidates to have some knowledge in marketing techniques and also knowledge in graphic and art design. So when you are taking your courses in college, it’s best to take classes in both specializations as it will help lay your initial foundation toward your art directing career.
While it’s not mandatory but extremely helpful, you should also look into taking an internship program while in college. This will allow you to experience the fast paced life that could be your potential career. It also provides you with field experience and any work or projects you work on can be added to your portfolio.
Another educational step you can take toward your career in art directing is earning your graduate degree. Again while it’s not mandatory, it’s something can be beneficial for you. The amount of education you learn is priceless and can help you in your future endeavors. Those who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design may want to pursue a master’s degree in marketing communication. Again having knowledge of the marketing world will help you determine how to apply your creativity to marketing techniques.
What other requirements are needed to be an art director?
Besides education, time and experience is extremely important. Being an art director is not something that happens overnight and it can take many years before you are even viable for an art directing position. Generally, employers look for applicants who have the minimum of five years of work experience. Depending on which field you are interested in, you will need to spend your first few years as either a graphic designer, editor, photographer, or any other position that is in art or design. Your experience will help lay down the strong foundation needed to be a successful art director.
As mentioned above, it’s imperative to have a portfolio that showcases your work. Your portfolio is an extended part of yourself that displays and demonstrates your particular style and also your abilities. You can have an outstanding personality but if you don’t have a stellar portfolio or work experience to go along with it, you will find that applying for a job in this field very difficult.
Sources:
1. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/art-directors.htm#tab-4

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