How To Become An Art Director

If you have the passion for putting visual concepts on print media such as magazines and product packaging as well as in broadcast media such as in film and television productions, a career as an art director could be in your future. You will have the opportunity to use images, art and other elements to come up with the best visual representation of an idea or concept. You will also have the chance to think about the overall style of a print publication, film set, theater production or advertising campaign. Since this is a supervisory position, you will be in charge of evaluating and approving the work of those on your staff.

Although creativity, an eye for style and the ability to think outside the box are the main skills that will be required of you in this profession, you will also need to develop effective communication skills so that you can express your ideas to clients clearly. You also need to be a good listener since you want to ensure that you will be developing the concept based on what your clients want.

Why Become An Art Director

For those who are artistically-inclined, a career as an art director provides the opportunity to showcase one’s talents. It is very satisfying for the art director to watch his concept come to life and even inspire others with his work. A sense of fulfillment can also be felt by art directors when they become part of a successful production.

Art Director Work Environment

Art directors are usually found in advertising, public relations, motion picture and video and publishing industries. Those who are connected with a company work an office setting, often in a fast-paced and high-pressure environment. In 2012, however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 57 percent of art directors were self-employed. While they worked in home offices, they still need to coordinate closely with designers and other people involved in a project.

Art Director Salary

Art directors are well-paid. According to the May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, art directors received a mean annual wage of $96,650 or a median wage of 39.90 per hour. In the May 2012 report of the agency, art directors working in the motion and video industries followed by those working in specialized design services and then by those in the advertising, public relations and related services.

Average Art Director Annual Salary


The average annual salary for art directors is $103,510 a year. Salaries start at $51,130 a year and go up to $170,230 a year.

Average Art Director Hourly Wage


The average hourly wage for a art director is $49.76. Hourly wages are between $24.58 and $81.84 an hour.

Stats were based out of 38,110 employed art directors in the United States.

Highest Paying States For Art Directors

Top Paying Cities For Art Directors

Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Art Director Career Outlook

The ten-year job outlook for art directors from 2012 to 2022 is not rosy. Employment is expected to grow by only three percent which is slower than the average for all other job types. There will be intense competition for jobs as there will be more talented designers and artists looking to ascend to art director positions compared to the available vacancies. Because of the fewer jobs available, those with strong portfolios and hold solid experience in various media platforms are more likely to get the job.

Art Director Degree

Art directors typically complete a bachelor’s degree in art or fine arts. They then work as fine artists, graphic designers, editors, photographers or art designer positions for at least five years before they can get promoted as art directors. Just like any other artist, an art director needs to develop an excellent portfolio which they can show to clients in order to get a project. Those who would like to take on executive roles beef up their credentials by getting a master’s degree in fine arts.

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