Advertising art director
Advertising & Marketing

Advertising art directors are responsible for the visual content of advertising campaigns across all media. Creatives influence how we think and what we buy.

Work Activities

Advertising art directors work with colleagues in advertising agencies to create advertising campaigns that satisfy the needs of the clients. Often known as 'creatives', they concentrate on producing visual imagery and collaborate with copywriters who are more concerned with the written and spoken words. Although this is a creative process, the advertising art directors need to be aware of the wishes of the clients, budgetary constraints and the resources available. It is important to keep up to date with technology as the media for advertisements may include not only newspapers and magazines, but also TV, films, the internet and social media.

Duties may include:

  • Interpreting account briefs
  • Discussing with copywriters what the 'feel' of the campaign should be
  • Thinking about what the visual aspects should be
  • Making preliminary sketches or storyboards
  • Feeding back these ideas to the creative art director and account executive
  • Presenting ideas to the client
  • Developing or amending these ideas in the light of feedback from and discussion with colleagues and clients
  • Hiring staff to realise these ideas eg film crew, graphic designers
  • Supervising staff
  • Attending film shoots
  • Making final adjustments to the projects
  • Budgeting

Hours of work tend to be 9-5 in an office. You may need to work longer hours close to deadlines or if you are on a shoot. You can progress to self-employment or to become an art director.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for an advertising art director

  • 'Creativity', 'talent' and so on are shorthand for being able to produce visually compelling images that sell the products being advertised
  • You need to be innovative, both in your campaign ideas and also to understand about how they will be delivered
  • You need the confidence to present your ideas and the tenacity to follow them through
  • Excellent IT skills. You may be asked for knowledge of specific packages such as Illustrator, Photoshop, the Adobe Creative Suite and so on
  • Good communication skills with empathy as you need to understand the views of both clients and colleagues
  • You will need to be able to work in a team as well as on your own
  • You need to have good project management skills with attention to detail and the ability to manage budgets and meet tight deadlines

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers

  • You would work for an advertising agency or creative agency.
  • Some large organisations employ their own creative teams.
  • With experience, you may be able to set up as a self-employed advertising art director.


Qualifications and training

To demonstrate that you have the level of creative talent needed, you need to show a portfolio of work.

In practice, it is likely that you will have HND/first degree/masters degree related to Advertising Design, Graphic Design, Fine Art or Advertising.

In Scotland there are HND courses in Graphic Design/Visual Communication/Art & Design requiring a relevant HNC, 1-2 Highers, often including Art and Design and/or English and a portfolio. Degree courses require 3-4 Highers often including English as well as Art & Design and an excellent portfolio. Check each institution carefully.

You will usually need to have completed periods of work experience before you are offered a full-time job. You may find it helpful to team up with a copywriter so that you can offer future employers the benefit of a creative team in tune with each other.

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