Art Director job description

After the success of my advertising interviews, I figured it might help to give you all a bit more insight about the jobs and roles that I’ve been interviewing about. In this weeks role, we look at an Art Director job description. I’ll cover what the typical working hours are like, the day to day role and some general background information you might need to know.

Some of you may know what an Art Director does, but know nothing about the actual work demands, while others of you might be deciding which route in advertising to go down, in which case learning about these roles would help you – or so I hope. So to kick off, lets look at an Art Director job description.

Art Director job description: what does an Art Director do?

Art Directors are responsible for the aesthetics of an advert, in all formats, from print, TV, online etc… The final look and feel of the advert lies with the Art Director.
Working with a Copywriter, who they will partner with, they will create campaign ideas which answer the client brief they have been given. The Art Director will then work on designs, layouts, scamps and storyboards for the ad campaigns; some sort of visual which they can present back to the Creative Director or client.Unless the work is already covered in-house by the agency, an Art Director will also be expected to commission artists, designers, photographers and cameramen.

What is the work like?

An Art Director and their Copywriting partner will often be hired together as a creative team, though some Art Directors work for agencies as a freelancer, rather than a full time member of staff.

The work can be extremely demanding and stressful, with ground-breaking ideas needed thick and fast, for tight deadlines; working on several advertising accounts at once. With this in mind, an Art Director is expected to be highly creative and innovative, have an interest in everything and anything from architecture, novels, high fashion, art, social and cultural trends, have great people and communication skills, high presentation skills, a team player, be able to work to tight timescales, under pressure and within strict budgets. Attention to detail, an open mind and a thick skin is also necessary, as criticism can be a big part of day to day life.

Art Directors will spend most of their working hours in the office, though it seems very apparent that most creative teams will try to break out from the office when they need some time to think, clear their heads or break a creative brick wall, where they will go out to find some inspiration.

Moving from agency to agency is very common in this industry, that or being head hunted by another agency. It can be rare to find a creative team with a longstanding career history at just one agency.

What is the salary like?

Obviously I can’t give definite figures. An Art Director’s salary is all very much dependant on location and experience and varies from agency to agency. You will find the better salaries are in London at one of the top 100 ad agencies.

A Junior to mid-weight Art Director will normally land in the annual salary range of £15,000 to £25,000. While a Senior Art Director can earn in the range of £40,000 to £60,000. Substantial experience, or a role as a Creative Director (whichever comes first) can lead to a salary of near on £100,000 or more.

Art Directors move up the ladder via recognition for their work, awards and via training, which is normally under taken in-house by more experienced / Senior level colleagues.

What are the hours like?

Your average Art Directors working hours will be Monday to Friday 9am-6pm, though you will find, particularly in London agencies, that these standard hours can be more like 8am – 9pm, especially when deadlines are creeping up.

Art Directors are also expected to attend client meetings, whether at the agency or at the clients offices. For some global advertising accounts, weekend and abroad travelling will be required. Alongside this, Art Directors will also be expected to work ‘on-location’, for example: when filming a TV ad. This can be for a matter of hours, a day or 2 – 3 days. Basically however long it takes to complete.

What is the dress-code like?

Along with their Copywriting partner, an Art Director is classed as a “Creative”, meaning to keep them feeling comfortable and natural, so ideas come easily, dress-code tends to be very informal. T-shirts, shorts and jeans tend to be the norm for most agencies. However, some client meetings may require a formal attire.

Getting an Art Director role

There are a number of ‘advertising’ university courses in the UK and abroad. These courses will offer creative briefs for students to answer, building up a portfolio and putting some skills to the test. However, attending a university course doesn’t guarantee you a position at an agency. In fact, a university degree isn’t even compulsory in advertising, though some people do believe it helps.

Whether you have a degree or not, Creatives are expected to have a portfolio, which shows their work, their ideas and their ability to think. If the work is good enough, work placements will be offered. This tends to be the main way Creatives work their way into the industry until they are offered a full time position off the back of a placement. Another alternative is a Creative Grad Scheme, where a similar process is used.