Design: Art Director (Advertising and Publishing) Job Description, Education, Training Requirements, Career, Salary, Employment

Job Description: Art directors in advertising and publishing develop design concepts and review material that is to appear in periodicals, newspapers, and other printed or digital media. They decide how best to present the information visually, so that it is eye catching, appealing, and organized. Art directors decide which photographs or artwork to use and oversee the layout design and production of the printed material. They may also direct workers engaged in artwork, layout design, and copywriting.

Training and Educational Qualifications: Art directors usually begin as entry-level artists in advertising, publishing, design, and motion picture production firms. An artist may be promoted to art director after demonstrating artistic and leadership abilities. Some art schools offer coursework in art direction as part of postsecondary training. Depending on the scope of their responsibilities, some art directors may elect to enhance their training by pursuing a degree in art administration.

Job Outlook: Art directors work in a variety of industries, such as advertising, public relations, publishing and design firms. Despite an expanding number of opportunities, competition will continue to be keen for available openings.

Salary: Median annual earnings of salaried art directors are $68,100. The middle 50 percent earn between $49,480 and $94,920. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $37,920, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $135,090. The median annual earnings for persons in advertising and related services are $70,630.

Significant Facts:

•    In 2004, there were 71,000 art directors in the United States.

•    Art directors work in a variety of industries, such as advertising, public relations, publishing and design firms.

•    Despite an expanding number of opportunities, art directors will experience keen competition for any available openings.

Where are the best cities to live to find jobs like yours?

There are publications or creative service jobs available in most cities. Obviously, the best paying ones are at larger companies.

What is your typical day like?

Surf the net for news and visual images. Read my emails. Make my “to do” list. Meet with my staff. Take care of administrative work such as contracts, bills and calendar. Attend various department meetings, including talking to the editor. Brainstorm on art concepts, commission artists and photographers, design pages and make corrections as needed.

What are your job responsibilities?

I am responsible for art concepts, designing and managing a staff to produce a monthly trade magazine. This includes establishing the work flow and standards, overseeing staffing projects, scheduling design resources, supervising associate designers, including outside vendors, and managing budgets effectively managing multiple projects from initial concept through final completion with extensive interaction at senior management levels. I also direct photo shoots, provide digital imagery support and attend press checks.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Designing covers and creating art for the magazine.

What do you dislike about your job?

The administrative part of managing people, budget and schedules.

How did you know you wanted to pursue this career?

I’ve always loved art so it only made sense to work in an area that I love.

Describe how you got into this industry and how you got your most recent job.

My roommate in college got a job at the local newspaper and told me about the opportunities. I wanted to be an illustrator but things were slow at the time. After a few years, I got a job at The Washington Times, then later at the Baltimore Sun, followed by The Washington Post. After a

number of years, I accepted a position with National Geographic Magazine. They began cutbacks so I left to join HR Magazine in 2003.

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?

Staying employed after all these years and being able to adapt to change. I started as a traditional artist. As computers became popular in my field, I switched gears and became a computer graphic artist. Then as those opportunities dried up, I began to design and finally became an art director.

If you weren’t doing this job, what similar careers might you consider?

Web design or advertising.

To what professional associations do you belong?

The Art Director’s Club.

What professional magazines/newspapers/journals/Web sites do you read?

I scan several sites that include snd.org, adcmw.org, spd.org and aiga.org.

What advice do you have for others who would like to pursue this career?

Study and learn as much as you can about the field. Practice your craft every day. Stay in tune with others in the field for contacts and don’t get comfortable.

CAREER LADDER:

Staff photographer for an advertising firm in NY; Photographer for music videos in Atlanta, GA; Co-owner of photography studio in Atlanta, GA; assistant propmaster on films; Props Department for Broadway Films at Savannah Civic Center; decorator on national commercial spots; art director PBS documentaries; art director for music videos; art director “Dinner and a Movie” TBS; propmaster “Movie and a Makeover” TBS; propmaster “Cartoon Fridays” Cartoon Network; propmaster TNT; art director TCM; art director “Iraq’s Most Wanted” CNN

Did you have an internship in this field prior to starting your job?

No, I sent out lots of resumes and made a lot of phone calls.

Do you know of which companies have the best internships in this field that are known to help launch a successful career?

Turner Broadcasting Services in Atlanta has one of the best internships that I know of.

Where are the best cities to live to find jobs like yours?

New York; Los Angeles; Wilmington, NC; and Atlanta, GA.

What are your job responsibilities?

It depends on what show I am doing. But basically I am responsible for the creative look of the show.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love to bring to life a writer’s script, especially when I am working on the Cartoon Network’s show “Cartoon Fridays.” I bring a lot of cartoons to life by creating their props and sets. It can be lots of fun.

What do you dislike about your job?

Sometimes I have to get up very early and work a lot of hours to meet the show deadlines. That is one of the most important points of this kind of career you have to be able to meet every deadline.

Have you had any turning-point or “light bulb” moments in your career that have helped you get to where you are today?

In 1988,1 was working for an advertising agency while living in New York City. One night a “Twelve K” (one of the largest lights used by the film industry to illuminate a set at night) shined right through my living room window. I ran to the window and saw a lot of commotion

going on in the street, so I decided to go downstairs and take a look. I asked the doorman and a lady with curly hair what was going on. The lady answered, “We are making a movie with Amy Irving called Crossing Delancey.”

I said, “That’s very cool. Where is she?”

And the woman replied, “That’s me and you are about to get in trouble because we are getting ready to film and you are in the shot.” She told me to go across the street and tell them that I could watch the monitor from her director’s chair. It was a great night. I wanted to be part of creating films. And that was my new goal: to go from two-dimensional to three-dimensional creations.

How did you get into this industry?

In 1990, a friend of mine was working on a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie and asked me if I could drive some of the crew members around the locations. I agreed to help and was driving the art director who asked me to tell her about my background because I recognized that some of the furniture she was using was Queen Ann era. I told her I graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design, which prompted her to respond that I shouldn’t be driving I should be helping her. So I got my first job in the film business. The photographs used in the frame were mine.

In 1991 I was interviewed and hired by Scott Stephens, the prop-master on a television series in Atlanta called “I’ll Fly Away.” Little did I know that one of his credits was Dances with Wolves. And one of his closest friends was the decorator who gave me my first job on that Hallmark movie. She recommended me for the assistant position with Scott Stephens. He taught me a lot about the film business and I went on to work on many films

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?

What I do now. I am allowed to have as much creative freedom as I want in order to accomplish the look and the feeling the writers want to see come to life.

If you weren’t doing this job, what similar careers might you consider?

I would consider designing scenery and props for Broadway plays.

To what professional associations do you belong?

I belong to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (IATSE) local 491 and to the Savannah Film book.

What professional magazines/newspapers/journals/Web sites do you read?

I read everything and anything from decorating books and magazines to Money Market and history books since I work with Cartoon Network, CNN, TCM, TBS, and now Court TV. I need to be well rounded in my knowledge.

What advice do you have for others who would like to pursue this career?

Networking is very important!