The wizardry of Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for the visual style of projects involving the use of graphics and images, which can be anything from publishing and advertising to movie and tv productions. Their primary role is to determine the overall style for each project and oversee the work of artists who must develop illustrations, graphics, photographs, or movie sets according to their guidelines. They also must be able to communicate effectively with both customers and creative staff. Moreover, they must act as acrobats to inspire artists while keeping an eye to budget and timelines. 

Requirements are so many in so many fields that sometimes they may seem gifted with some unique wizardry. 


What do Art Directors do?

When it comes to art directors, the list of responsibilities that fall within their role can be pretty long.

Their first task is to determine how best to represent a concept visually,  develop the overall look or style, and determine which visual elements are more suitable.

Art directors are held responsible for the whole process of creation, from the very beginning to the final product.  Sometimes they might even be asked to select professionals or work teams. They must supervise, review, and approve the artwork developed by the creative staff. Where different departments are involved, they should be able to coordinate their activities.  

Sometimes they might also be requested to develop detailed budgets and timelines in cooperation with producers.

They act as an intermediary between the client and the agency.


The role of art director in different industries.

Art directors work in a variety of industries, so their charges can differ accordingly. In the publishing industry, the art director is responsible for the look and feel of publications. In a single day, he may be able to juggle between the various stages of production, from choosing a cover or approve a layout for a catalog, to sending a book off to print. Part of the job is also about dealing with marketing and communication, creating press packages or generating consistent images for website and social media banners. 

In the last ten years web and social media have taken over traditional marketing and advertising agencies have been living a period of significant changes. They now offer clients new services such as media planning, brand management, visual content, and promotional events, which involve a more extensive range of tasks than in the past.

In the TV and movie production industry, Art Directors cooperate with directors and screenwriters to understand how to convey the feel of the story and set the right ambiance of a film or single episode.

They attend production meetings and deal with the various art departments, while keeping track of budgeting, scheduling, and quality control.


What kind of skills must have an Art Director?

Art directors are expected to be well-organized visionaries with solid artistic preparation and strong conceptual skills. Direct experience in one or more art departments – as graphic designers, photographers, movie editors – might provide them with accurate knowledge of production processes. 

Excellent communication and leadership skills are also essential. They act as intermediaries and must be able to verbalize visions, problems, and tasks. They must also be strong enough to take criticism and accept challenges but also be a self-confident leader, inspire work teams, recognize talents, and get the best from everyone.