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Art Director Jobs

Art Directors Jobs, Salary, and Job Outlook


Art Director Jobs | Act Directors Careers



Art directors are responsible for the visual images in newspapers, magazines, film, and TV productions. They create the basic design and help to direct others who develop artwork and various layouts.

Art directors typically perform these duties: 

  • Determine how best to represent a visual concept
  • Determine which phots, art, or design elements to use
  • Develop the overall look and style of a publication, ad campaign, or a theater, television, or movie set
  • Manage various design employees
  • Review / approve designs, art, photos, and graphics developed by staff 
  • Talk to clients to develop an approach and style of art
  • Show designs to clients for approval

Art directors typically oversee the work of designers and artists who produce images for TV, film, live performances, ads, or video games. They determine the overall style desired for each project and articulate their vision to art workers. The artists then create images, such as illustrations, graphics, photographs, or charts and graphs, or design stage and movie sets, according to the art directors vision.

Art directors work with art and design staffs in ad agencies, public relations firms, and book, magazine, or newspaper publishers to create designs and various layouts. They also work with producers and directors of theater, TV, or film productions to oversee set designs. Their work requires them to understand the design elements of many projects, inspire other workers creativity, and keep projects on time and budget.

Art directors work in many industries, and the type of work they do varies. Almost all art directors set the artistic style and visual image to be created for each project.  They may oversee a staff of designers, artists, photographers, writers, or editors who are responsible for creating the items / works that collectively make up a product.

Work Environment for Art Directors

Art directors held about 74,800 jobs in 2012. About 15 % of art directors worked for advertising and public relations firms. Others worked for newspaper and magazine publishers, design firms, and film and video industries.

The industries that employed the most art directors::

  • Advertising, public relations, and related services 15%
  • Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 5%
  • Motion picture and video industries 3%
  • Specialized design services 4%
  • Manufacturing 2%

About 57 % of art directors were self-employed in 2012. Even though the majority of art directors are self employed, they still collaborate with designers or taff on visual effects or marketing team projects. Art directors usually work in a fast paced office environment. They often work under pressure to meet strict deadlines.


How To Become an Art Director

Art directors need at least a bachelors degree in art or design and work experience. They may have worked as graphic designers, artists, editors, or photographers. 


Many art directors start out as graphic, industrial, or set designers. They gain the appropriate education for that occupation by typically earning a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Some complete a Master of Fine Arts degree.

Work Experience

Most art directors work 5 yrs. or more in another occupation before becoming art directors.

For many artists, including art directors, developing a portfolio is essential. Managers, clients, and others review an artists portfolios when they are making hiring decisions on whether to hire an employee.

Qualities That Make for a Good Art Director

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Leadership
  • Time Management

Art Director Pay and Earnings

The median annual earnings for art directors was $80,880 in 2012. The lowest 10 % earned less than $43,870, and the top 10 % earned more than $162,800.

In 2012, the median annual salary for art directors in the top five industries were as follows:

  • Motion picture and video $104,630
  • Specialized design $90,210
  • Advertising, public relations, and related services $85,390
  • Manufacturing $68,210
  • Newspaper, periodical, book, and publishers $67,170

Job Outlook

Employment of art directors is projected to grow 3 % from 2012 to 2022, which is slower than the average. Art directors will continue to be needed to oversee graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, and others.

Employment of art directors is projected to decline in the publishing job industry from 2012 to 2022. Although job opportunities may decline, new opportunities may arise, as the number of electronic media magazines and Internet based publications grows. Rather than focusing on the print layout of images and text, art directors for newspapers and magazines will design website pages that incorporate a variety of phots, illustrations, graphics, graphic designs, and text images.


Job Prospects

Strong competition is expected as many designers and artists seek to move into art director positions. Workers with a strong portfolio, which demonstrates strong visual design and conceptual work across multimedia platforms, will have the best prospects in the future.

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Art Directors