Advertising & Arts

Art Director

Art directors create visual ideas to be used in developing printed layouts, advertising campaigns, online media or film sets.

  • Entry-level education

    Junior secondary school certificate or equivalent

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does an Art Director do?

Art directors create visual ideas to be used in developing printed layouts, advertising campaigns, online media or film sets.


Work activities

In publishing, art directors usually supervise the page layout of magazines, journals and newspapers. They also select cover art for books and periodicals. Often, this work now includes online publications, so art directors oversee the website content and layout.

In advertising and public relations, art directors are responsible for making sure the clients' targeted message, logos and branding are clear to consumers. Art directors oversee the visual aspects of an advertising or media campaign and work with other specialists in the team such as graphic designers to get the best result.

In movie production, art directors read through the script and work with the director to map out the visual themes of the production and what sets will be required. They work with a team of staff including assistant art directors or set designers.

As an art director, you would:

  • determine how best to represent a concept visually
  • determine which photographs, art, or other design elements to use
  • develop the overall look or style of a publication, an advertising campaign, or a theatre, television, or film set
  • supervise design staff
  • 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
  • present designs to clients for approval.

Key skills and interests

To become an art director, you would need:

  • creativity and imagination
  • good art and design skills, including an understanding of photography and printing
  • excellent communication and teamworking skills
  • good computer skills
  • a good eye for detail
  • the ability to work under pressure and to strict deadlines.

Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

An art director's hours could vary depending on the industry in which you work. You may be required to work at night time, or on weekends.


If your work is office-based, you may also travel to meet clients or visit studios or production locations.


How to become an Art Director?

Entry Level Education

You can work as an art director without formal qualifications, but employers usually require junior secondary school certificate or equivalent. You will probably get some on-the-job training.

Your employment prospects may be improved if you have a degree in graphic design, theatre studies or video / television production and have considerable experience in your chosen industry. You may also consider degrees in advertising, communications or fine arts. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent.

Most art directors work for a number of years before being eligible for employment as an art director. Their background will depend on the industry they are specialists in and may include working as a graphic designer, set designer, photographer or fine artist before stepping into an art director role.


Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

There will be steady opportunities for art directors due to the need to oversee the work of graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, and others engaged in artwork or layout design.

In publishing, job opportunities may decline as traditional print publications lose ground to other media forms, but new opportunities are expected to arise, as the number of electronic magazines and internet-based publications grows.

In theatre or television, art directors are often self-employed and engaged on a project basis.


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