What is an Art Director?

The way a website appears to the viewer is essential in getting their attention – or losing their attention. The layout and the visual aesthetic must be appealing to the consumer first and foremost. Every detail that goes into a website effects the overall vision of what is seen. They are all created by the art director and their team of creative minds.

Job Description

An art director is the leader of a design team. They delegate responsibilities to the other designers on the team. The art director must make sure the website has a pleasant visual aesthetic.

An art director must be able to get along well with the other creatives on the team or else the website may not look as well as they wish. The art director's primary focus is to convey their vision (and the client's vision) to the end user.

So what does an art director actually do?

As an art director, your job will be to take an idea and translate it to visually pleasing website. You would be a part of a design team that works together and makes a vision into reality.  

One of the most important parts of the job is to develop a consistent look and feel to the website. You wouldn’t want a user looking at one page, then click on another and feel like it’s a completely different website. Have you ever looked at a website and thought, “Wow these colors are ugly”? If you have, and you felt the need to email someone about it, go to the art director, they are ultimately responsible for an ugly website.

Many web design clients may or may not already have a general idea of what they want their website to look like. The art director's job is to make sure they accomplish the client's business goal while representing the branding and personality of the client's brand online.

Many clients have no idea of what they want, so they will give full creative reign of the project over to the art director. While this sounds like a dream come true to many creatives, all fingers will be pointed at the art director if the project flops.

How to become an art director.

Generally, jobs openings want to see a Bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts in graphic design. However, if your portfolio is unarguably great and you don’t have a degree, that can work too. The only catch to that, is people with a degree tend to receive a higher salary according to salary.com.

According to princetonreview.com, it’s somewhat easy to get a job as an art director in web design (after you pay your dues, of course). You would most likely enter at a junior position given your experience, but after about 3-5 years at the position, you can move up to an art director.

In addition to having a lot of creativity, the web design field has a lot of technical wizards, so understanding hold a website is built from a technical standpoint will be a great benefit. Being able to understand code and what certain coding means is important in order to be a successful art director. A technical/coding background is something that can set you apart from the rest of the candidates. Gaining experience from real world jobs will help tremendously.

It would be very beneficial, bot not required to know Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Video Production, & General Marketing practices. 

How much money does an Art Director make?

Depending on level of experience, the salary range for an Art Director is about $75,000 - $135,000. The visual aid on salary.com shows that 50% of people are expected to make less than the median, which falls at about $108,000.

Having a college degree is actually beneficial to your pay because those who have one tend to make more than those who don’t. A lot of different variables can go into how much you make such as, location, size of company, years of experience, college degree and from where, and your performance at the job.

The difference between art director and creative director.

The difference between an art director and a creative director is that an art director leads a team of creative designers while a creative director is the person who sets the design and strategy and tell the art director what is needed.

A creative director is the sole mind that thinks up the ideas for what the company wants and decides what would be a good idea for them, and then passes the idea to an art director to develop.

The art director and their team work together to come up with an concept and design and execute it together. Then the final product showcased to the client and the creative director hoping it’s what they wanted.

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