Last Updated: November 10, 2020

Without visionary art directors, advertisements wouldn’t be nearly as effective as they’ve proven to be in our society. Art directors are in change of overseeing the “art” of an advertisement. If you immediately imagined galleries featuring paintings, we’re sorry to say that isn’t quite what we mean.

Art in the advertising industry refers to any kind of picture or visual element that accompanies an advertisement. The art director creates the visual concepts of an advertisement, and works closely with the creative team to implement that vision. Read on to discover how art directors create successful advertising campaigns.

What do they do?

Location and Opportunity

According to, the following areas have the most opportunity for art directors:

  • New York, NY
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Aiea, HI

Art directors usually work in tandem with copywriters to develop an advertisement’s direction. While the copywriter develops the message of an advertisement, the art director seeks out the art elements that best compliment the message.

Usually working closely with a team of graphic designers, the art director brainstorms how to visually represent a product or service. Throughout the process, the art director develops a working budget, and approves designs and layouts created by the graphic design team.

In their position, art directors stay in constant communication with creative directors and account executives to ensure creative style is on course and pleasing to a client. Other professionals they work with include:


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Art directors usually start off their careers as graphic designers, honing their creative skills and providing input on visual direction. Most art directors typically earn bachelor’s degrees in graphic design or advertising before taking on this leadership role.

The art director is often the go-between to the creative and sales team members at an advertising agency, meaning strong communication skills are a must. They should also have extensive knowledge of page design, layout, and photo editing in order to effectively manage the visual elements of an advertisement.

Become an Art Director

Employment for art directors is projected to steadily increase by 9% through 2020, though employment prospects vary by location and experience.

Salary as an art director depends highly on previous experience and where you choose to work. In 2010, the median income for art directors was $80,630. If you’re interested in learning more about determining the artistic vision for advertisements, contact schools offering degrees in marketing and advertising.