How To Become an Art Director

Like a chicken and an egg. Except, thats an opening bad joke to this inspiring article. However, you should know the type of skills you need, the responsibilities they carry, and the path you ought to take to become one or the other. Although art and creativity are closely related, there are plenty of specifics to the two roles. Regardless, they are complementary, and during ones career, it is quite possible to walk in both shoes.

Art directors need at least a bachelor’s degree in an art or design subject and previous work experience. Depending on the industry, they may have worked as graphic designers, fine artists, editors, or photographers, or in another art or design occupation before becoming art directors.

Become An Art Director In A Year

Requirements for art directors

Most art directors hold a minimum of a bachelors degree—typically a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts. Common degrees that a future art director may pursue include graphic design, visual communications or digital media. Some art directors may also choose to further their education by obtaining a Masters Degree in Business Administration or Fine Arts to advance their careers.

What does an art director do?

An art director is a professional who oversees a team of creatives such as designers within an organization. Art directors typically manage the overall design of a project and direct the individuals who work on various creative aspects of the project. An art directors primary focus is the style and aesthetic appeal of a project.

While this professionals duties can vary greatly depending on the company and industry as well as the project, a few common tasks an art director may be responsible for include:

An art director may work in several industries. Common companies that rely on the expertise of art directors include publishing, advertising, motion picture and video production and specialized design service businesses.

How to become an art director

The following are the steps you should take to pursue a career as an art director:

1. Earn a bachelors degree

Nearly every art director job will require you to have a minimum of a bachelors degree in terms of education. There are several degrees you can obtain to support your goal of becoming an art director, including degrees in advertising, fine arts and graphic design. There are also art management degrees available that combine business management with artistic practices.

2. Get an art-related internship

Either while you are in school for your bachelors degree or immediately after, you should consider working as an intern in the art field. If possible, you should seek an internship in the industry that you wish to pursue your career in, such as movie production or publishing.

3. Seek a full-time art position

These positions give you the opportunity to hone your artistic skills as well as obtain the required experience needed to go on to be an art director.

4. Consider further education

While not always required, many art directors also hold a masters degree in fine arts or a related field. Pursuing a masters degree can further prepare you for an art director position and equip you with valuable managerial skills needed to oversee a team of creatives.

5. Request or apply for promotion

If you are already working at a company that has an art director position, consider asking to be promoted to this job after you have obtained the necessary experience in a lower-level position. If an art director position opens within your company, dont be afraid to inquire and apply for it, even if you dont have three to five years of experience.

Showing interest is important to let your managers know you are driven and committed to the position of an art director. Additionally, you can apply for an art director position at another company or agency.

Skills for art directors

While being an art director requires a number of both soft and hard skills, the following are a few of the most important skills that most successful art directors share:

Leadership skills

Being a director of any kind requires strong leadership skills. As an art director, you will be in charge of managing individuals who work on a project and ensuring that the project is completed in a timely manner. Regardless of which industry you work in, you should hone your leadership skills if you are considering pursuing a career as an art director.

Project management skills

Art directors oversee every aspect of various creative projects, including the production of movies, media and advertising. Being organized and able to handle multiple components of a project including the timeline and budget is key to being a successful art director.

Communication skills

Art directors need to be able to communicate with both their team as well as their clients to successfully complete a project. Efficiently communicating timelines and expectations to team members as well as understanding and interpreting the desires of a client is an important part of being an art director.

Aesthetic judgment

As an art director, you will be in charge of creating and producing the overall aesthetics of a project. Whether you are implementing a new design for a client website or designing a video game, having strong aesthetic judgment is a primary skill needed by effective art directors.


Is it hard becoming an art director?

You have to work towards becoming one, and it takes time, effort, perseverance, and in many cases, a university degree. No doubt, attaining such height requires some level of skills and years of experience as you cannot just start in the industry as an Art Director. However, the reward of being one can be overwhelming.

How long does it take to become an art director?

Most art directors have 5 or more years of work experience in another occupation before becoming art directors. Depending upon the industry, they may have previously worked as graphic designers, fine artists, editors, photographers, or in another art or design occupation.

Do art directors make good money?

Art Directors made a median salary of $97,270 in 2020. The best-paid 25 percent made $136,310 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent made $71,610.

What degree is best for art director?

Top 10 Undergraduate Degrees That Will Help You Become a Creative Director
  • Graphic Design. This is the most logical choice for people who want to be creative directors. …
  • Multimedia Design or Animation. …
  • Advertising. …
  • Fashion Design. …
  • Journalism. …
  • Fine Arts. …
  • Marketing and Communications. …
  • Game Design.

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