The Art Director Job Description In 2021

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are almost 100,000 art director jobs in the U.S. in 2019. It may seem like a promising career, but the art director job description includes many particular requirements and criteria.

The Art Director Job Description Of Duties

A close look at the art director job description would reveal his/her duties, working environment, salary range, and other benefits. Regarding their duties, art directors shoulder the responsibilities for every aspect of the project. They manage the project, take care of the whole team and work closely with clients.

Specifically, art directors lay the foundation for the project by formulating basic layout design or approach, determining material details, and delivery format. They also have to review the plan to make sure it is within budget and match production scheduling. They decide the minor elements of the project, such as typography, graphics, animation effects, or sounds.

In addition, art directors need to work directly with clients. Knowing the clients’ requirements, they will discuss with the project’s department heads. Once there is a plan with final layouts, they have to present it to clients for their approval. Until the final production stage, art directors have to manage all stakeholders to ensure the deliverables meet all requirements.

This final responsibility adds to the long list of duties in the art director job description is to manage the team. In fact, as the department manager, art directors also take care of recruiting new talents and training them to join the team. Art directors need to update the technical knowledge of the new staff and guide them on how to work effectively as team members. 

The Requirements For An Art Director

Art directors need to have a bachelor’s degree in any art or design subject, along with work experience. Some have experience as graphic designers, video editors, illustrators, or any other design occupation. Most agencies require at least five to eight years of design-related work to consider a candidate for the art director position. 

However, for candidates with less experience, their knowledge of creative tools could be an advantage. For example, candidates who master Adobe Creative Suite, After Effects, or Blackmagic Fusion stand a chance of getting the art director jobs.

The Requirements For An Art Director

Art directors need experience and related skills in arts. Image: freepik

Besides, an art director needs to possess efficient interpersonal and communication skills. They must also have outstanding project management skills and a good sense of creative trends. It is also necessary for them to demonstrate top-notch problem-solving and collaboration skills to connect team members for the common goal within projects.

Ultimately, for those applying for this job, what needs to be on the art director cover letter and resume? Besides their bachelor’s degree and relevant certificates, an art director’s resume and cover letter must specify soft skills that will help them manage efficiently. In addition, they can state how well they use creative tools and demonstrates their experience in portfolios.

The Salary Range And Other Benefits

As an art director, you can expect a handsome salary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shares in their May 2020 report that the average art director salary is $46.77 per hour. However, the salary range for art directors would depend on many factors, including their location. For example, an art director in Austin (Texas) has a salary range from $74,938 to $132,980. Meanwhile, art directors in Iowa City can make only $106,750 at most.

According to the U.S. News newspaper, the metropolitan areas pay the highest salary in the art director profession. The top-rank city is Los Angeles in California, where an art director can earn $142,650 per year, while in San Francisco, the annual salary is slightly lower, at $135,970. In the city of New York, art directors can expect a paycheck of $134,810 per year. Such competitive salary ranges might be due to the economic situation in these metropolitans and the higher requirements for art directors.

Depending on the agency, art directors have different extra benefits. For example, an art director at Creative Circle can receive a health insurance package including dental, vision, and term life insurance. They are also eligible for the 401K financial and retirement plan. Creative Circle offers up to 3 holidays per calendar year along with sick leaves. 

The Working Environment Of Art Directors

Despite their office working hours, they often have to put in extra hours. It is common to see them at work even after hours and sometimes during weekends. They often work indoors, either in their office or art studios. There are dress code expectations in the office, but in general, art directors typically dress pretty informally.

The Working Environment Of Art Directors

The art directors’ working environment. Image: shelly palmer

As one of their duties is to meet clients and other partners like TV studios or filming sets, art directors travel a lot. Therefore, they may make short business trips depending on the project scale. Art directors can flexibly decide their work hours and workstations, as long as they ensure the expected work productivity of the team and the timely delivery of products for clients.

The Job Outlook For Art Directors In The U.S.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of art directors to decline two percent over the next ten years. Notably, we can expect a fall in demand for art directors in the traditional publishing areas. For example, there will be fewer positions available for art directors in publishing newspapers, periodicals, books, or directories. As more modern media forms are replacing traditional print publications, the labor market will shift accordingly.

Therefore, there is stronger competition for art director positions. We are now in the multimedia age, with very frequently disruptive changes. Hence, candidates with robust visual design and conceptual work across all multimedia platforms can have the best career prospects. For example, video game directors have a positive job outlook worldwide due to the booming gaming market.

The Related Careers To Art Director Job

If you are interested in working in the creative industry, there are other options with a good salary. Depending on your experience and expertise, you have several pathways to choose from besides being an art director.

JobsDutiesAnnual salary
Creative DirectorDevelop new branding campaigns for the company.
Monitor trends to advise the company or client on the most efficient branding campaigns.
Manage the creative department, assign tasks and manage workflow.
Conduct other duties related to branding for a specific brand.
UX Lead DesignerTake responsibility for usability testing, creating wireframes, sitemaps, and more.
Manage the whole process, from sketching to prototyping the digital product. 
Other related duties to ensure the timely delivery of products.
Senior fashion designerHandle the design of new clothing, accessories, and related lines according to the current trends and target a particular audience.
Manage everything from researching fabrics and trending colors to design production.
Other related duties assigned by the leader.
The Related Careers To Art Director Job

UX Designers’ work is more technical than art directors’. Image: atomicdust

The Final Thought

As Henri Matisse, a French artist of the twentieth century, “Creativity takes courage.” Therefore, if you measure up to the art director job description, start to build your career from today. It would take some time to get to the top, but it is the journey that will build you up.

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John Hobbs

At Jobandedu, John Hobbs holds the position of senior blogger. Though Hobbs has achieved massive success as a researcher, adviser, and writer, he still had to undergo multiple trials and tribulations before finding his true calling. He considered it his life's work to assist others in discovering and developing their full potential. His broad expertise in diverse fields and specifications allows him to provide insightful, real-world advice. His writings offer in-depth guidance on finding and excelling in a career, using information gleaned from extensive study and his personal experience. Hobbs also has a creative and engaging writing style, which he uses to publish pieces wherein he discusses his interests, views, and studies.