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What Does an Art Director Do? Where Does an Art Director Work? ACR Takes a Look.
|Cornell University||Ithaca||New York|
|Duke University||Durham||North Carolina|
|Iowa State University||Ames||Iowa|
|Maryland Institute College of Art||Baltimore||Maryland|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||Rochester||New York|
|Savannah College of Art and Design||Savannah||Georgia|
|School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Chicago||Illinois|
|School of Visual Arts||New York||New York|
|University at Buffalo||Buffalo||New York|
|University of Notre Dame||Notre Dame||Indiana|
What Does an Art Director Do?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design and direct others who develop artwork or layouts. Art directors review and approve designs, artwork, photography, and graphics developed by other staff members, talk to clients to develop an artistic approach and style, coordinate activities with other artistic and creative departments, develop detailed budgets and timelines, and present designs to clients for approval. Art directors may also hire and train staff.
Where Do Art Directors Work?
The BLS reports that art directors work with art and design staffs in advertising agencies, public relations firms, or book, magazine, or newspaper publishing. They also work with producers and directors of theater, television, or movie productions to oversee set designs. A hefty 59% of salaried art directors are self-employed (the largest employment group according to the BLS), while 13% work in advertising, public relations, and related services. Four percent of the population works in newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishing and 3% can be found in the motion picture and video industries. Around 3% of the workforce can be found in specialized design services.
“Even though most art directors are self-employed,” says the BLS, “they must still collaborate with designers or other staff on visual effects or marketing teams.” The work environment for art directors is usually fast-paced, and they typically work under pressure to meet strict deadlines.
Other Schools to Consider:
What is the Job Outlook for Art Directors?
The U.S. is home to 90,300 art directors. For the 2016-2026 decade, the BLS projects a 5% increase in employment, which is as fast as average for all occupations. A 5% increase means the industry will add 4,900 new jobs by 2026.
While art directors will continue to be needed to oversee the work of graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, and others engaged in artwork or layout design, employment is expected to decline in the publishing industry “as traditional print publications lose ground to other media forms.”
“Rather than focusing on the print layout of images and text, art directors for newspapers and magazines will increasingly design for web and mobile platforms.”
How Much Do Art Directors Make?
It takes years of experience, advanced technical skills, and advanced knowledge in the areas of art and management to become an art director. As such, art directors are among the highest paid artists in the art and design world. The median annual wage for art directors is $92,780. The highest paid art directors average more than $172,570 annually and the lowest paid average less than $52,160 annually.
Individual salaries vary based on geographic location, industry, type and size of company, and many other factors. For example, the highest paying states and metro areas for art directors are:
- California - $127,630; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward - $137,690
- New York - $124,710; New York-Newark-Jersey City - $124,940
- Georgia - $111,500; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell - $113,020
- Oregon - $108,830; Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA - $113,000
- Washington - $106,260; Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA - $113,000
Some of the lowest paying states are Mississippi ($58,350), Arkansas ($67,030), Louisiana ($68,040), Oklahoma ($68,420), and Idaho ($69,230).
The top paying industries for art directors are:
- Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services - $134,390
- Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing - $131,810
- Cut and Sew Apparel Manufacturing - $128,260
- Motion Picture and Video Industries - $126,030
- Software Publishers - $123,600
Salaries for the top five industries with the highest levels of employment for art directors are:
- Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services - $108,130
- Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers - $91,610
- Motion Picture and Video Industries - $126,030
- Specialized Design Services - $106,530
- Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services - $101,360
How Do I Become an Art Director?
The BLS says, “strong competition for jobs is expected as many talented designers and artists seek to move into art director positions. Prospective art directors with a strong understanding of how to create intuitive, user-friendly designs will have better prospects working with interactive digital platforms. Workers with a good portfolio, one that demonstrates strong visual design and conceptual work across all multimedia platforms, will have the best prospects.”
In addition to this and years of experience, most employers prefer to hire art directors with at least a bachelor’s degree in an art or design related field. To enhance employment opportunities, many aspiring art directors opt for an advanced degree. Fortunately, many colleges and universities offer MFA degrees in a range of art and design fields and some even offer PhD programs. Just a few options include:
- University at Buffalo (UB), PhD Visual Studies
- Duke University, MFA Experimental & Documentary Arts, PhD Art History and Visual Culture
- Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), MFA in 10 areas
- University of Notre Dame, MFA Studio Art with seven areas or a combination of all
- School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), MFA in Studio in 14 areas
- Iowa State University, MFA Integrated Visual Arts (IVA)
- Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), MFA in more than a dozen areas
- Cornell University, MFA Art
- School of Visual Arts, New York (SVA NY), MFA in 12 areas
- Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), MFA Fine Arts Studio
While many colleges and universities offer graduate art programs, just about every school offers undergraduate art programs. Aspiring art directors just starting out should determine which area they would like to specialize in and choose a program that will support it.
Awesome Animation Fact: Did you know that the next Pixar movie is always hidden in the previous one? To name a few: Nemo from Finding Nemo (2003) made a few early cameos in Monsters, Inc. (2001) and the new character of Finn McMissile from Cars 2 (2011) was featured on Andy's wall in Toy Story 3. -Source: Quora.com