How Can I Become An Art Director?

"I am still in high school but I’d like to pursue a career related to the arts since creating art has always been my passion. We visited an advertising agency during our field trip in English and the art director of the company was having a brainstorming session with his team at that time. We were only able to observe a fragment of their meeting but the dynamism and creativity which I witnessed there is enough to convince me that I should become an art director. I’d like to ask where I should start if I want to pursue this career. How can I become an art director?"

asked by James D. from Concord, New Hampshire

Many art directors gain a foothold in this highly-competitive industry by obtaining a bachelor’s degree or a bachelor of fine arts degree. Some also beef up their credentials by pursuing postgraduate education and obtaining a Master of Fine arts degree. Because an art director is a managerial position, additional educational qualifications will certainly enhance your job prospects.

Aside from fine arts, a degree in graphic design, photography and drawing will still prepare you for the job. It is also a good idea to learn the different computer programs that will allow you to manipulate pictures and fonts since this is already a must in this job in this day and age.

Take note that you can’t be an art director right away. You will have to start at the bottom of the ladder and work your way upwards. You’ll generally have to work as an editor, fine artists, graphic designer or photographer for at least five years before you can become an art director.

These work opportunities are not going to be a waste of time because these are chances that will enable you to develop your portfolio as an artist. Your portfolio should be kept up-to-date as much as possible because clients and other employers will be asking for this to gauge your talent and skills and determine if you are going to be the right person for the job or not.

In addition to getting the necessary education, aspiring art directors must be good communicators as you will be talking with clients and the other people you work with. You also need to be creative and continue to come up with fresh and new ideas that will get your client’s attention. It is also important to have leadership skills so that the people under you will follow suit.

Art directors must also have a keen sense of time as clients usually want to see the finished product within the specified schedule and more importantly, without going over the budget.

Do your work with passion and love. Maintain good interpersonal relationships with all the people in your company as much as possible. While you are still chalking up work experience, always be on time and submit work on or before the set deadlines. This way, when a vacancy for an art director position opens in your advertising agency, you won’t be shy about applying for it. The road towards attaining this position is going to be tough but if you don’t lose sight of the goal, everything else will follow.

Career Spotlight: Art Director

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