Job description

Art directors are responsible for the visual design concepts and presentation strategies in media, including print, advertising, television and film. They direct staff who develop artwork, photos, logos and other creative elements according to the client's overall vision and goals. Art directors can design everything from movie sets and advertising layouts to book covers and websites.


    • Meet clients or project manager to discuss their goals and overall vision
    • Determine the best way to present the concept visually
    • Choose which artwork, photographs, logos, font and other design elements to use
    • Create the overall design of an advertising layout, film or TV set, book cover, or website
    • Create custom graphic elements to suit the project
    • Direct creative staff and approve all designs, layouts, artwork and other elements
    • Coordinate plans, assignments and overall vision with other department heads
    • Supervise photo shoots, set construction activities, printing sessions and other creative development
    • Research current design trends and new technology, including photo and graphics software
    • Formulate budget projections and timelines
    • Present designs and budget projections to clients or project manager for approval

Skills and qualities

Cad software
Graphics and photo imaging software
Project management software
Fine arts
Time management
Attention to detail
Social perceptiveness

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

Art directors with a variety of experience in both project management and creative endeavours will typically land jobs with more responsibility and autonomy. You may start out with small projects at ad agencies or low-budget films in the entertainment industry. Success in these smaller ventures, plus networking with other art or project directors, can lead to more prestigious and lucrative assignments.

Art directors may eventually transition to positions with control over more than just the visual elements of a project. This can include creative director, film director and managing director.

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Standard business hours

Most art directors are self-employed, which means there can be some flexibility with scheduling. However, jobs typically include extensive collaboration with other staff in advertising, public relations and media during standard office hours.

Art directors usually work in offices, though those in movies and TV may visit sets and filming locations. You'll often be working under pressure to fulfil the project director's vision and meet strict deadlines.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Bachelor’s degree in art or design

Study time

4 years

Most art directors have a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, specialising in the area that best suits their desired occupation. You will typically spend at least five years honing your skills in another role before taking on the director position. Relevant work experience includes jobs like graphic artist, editor and photographer.

A portfolio featuring your best work is essential to showcasing your style and abilities in a job interview. Some art directors also go on to earn a master's degree in fine arts to boost their résumé.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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