Advertising Art Director Careers

How to become an Advertising Art Director

What does a Advertising Art Director do?

Advertising art directors are responsible for producing the visual aspects of advertising material. They work in a creative team with a copywriter (who provides the words to go with the visual images), designing advertising posters, leaflets, and brochures, display material or film and television advertisements. The creative team is given a brief by an account executive and/or account planner. The art director and the copywriter work closely together and influence each other’s work to come up with ideas for an advertisement or advertising campaign.

Their aim is to present the product or service attractively and persuasively, to draw the attention of the target group. They come up with a number of ideas, in the form of illustrative sketches known as ‘storyboards’ (for television) or ‘roughs’, which they present to the agency’s creative director and account team, and then to the client. When the proposal has been accepted the art director oversees the production of the finished piece of work. The art director may commission an artist, Mac (Apple Macintosh Computer)/PC operator/designer, photographer or filmmaker to help in the final production of the work. Art directors are usually responsible for working on briefs from several clients, sometimes more than one at a time.

What's the working environment like working as a Advertising Art Director?

Art directors usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, but must be flexible, as pressure to meet deadlines may frequently lead to evening and weekend work. The work is in offices or studios.

What does it take to become a Advertising Art Director?

To be an advertising art director you should:

  • be creative
  • have an understanding of the target market
  • have an understanding of photography, typography and printing techniques
  • have an interest in art and design with a good eye for detail
  • have good communication skills with the ability to work as part of a team
  • have good computer skills
  • be resilient, able to work under pressure and be able to cope with criticism
  • have enthusiasm for your work without becoming too attached to it
  • be able to work within strict budgets.

Advertising Art Director Career Opportunities

Competition for entry is strong. Advertising is a very popular career amongst graduates, and applicants often outnumber vacancies. Agencies with a structured graduate recruitment programme are listed in the IPA Factfile (see website listed in Further Information), although the best approach may be to contact agencies directly.

Advertising agencies take on around 500 graduates a year, the majority of which are based in London. Other centres for advertising are Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester. It may be possible to work abroad.

Some art directors work on a freelance basis. In large agencies, you may be able to progress to senior art director or creative director. Movement between agencies is common.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Advertising Art Director that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Advertising Association
7th Floor North
Artillery House
11-19 Artillery Row
Tel: 020 7340 1100

Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA)
44 Belgrave Square
Tel: 020 7235 7020

CAM Foundation
Moor Hall
Tel: 01628 427120

Design and Art Directors Association
9 Graphite Square
Vauxhall Walk
SE11 5EE
Tel: 020 7840 1111

Facts and Stats:

  • The Advertising Standards Association received 589 complaints in 1998 against the Irn Bru drinks advert that featured a cow with the caption ''When I''m a burger I want to be washed down by Irn Bru''
  • The first colour advert on TV in 1969 was for Birds Eye peas
  • Salman Rushdie once worked as an advertising copy writer
  • Advertising is not permitted on the Champs Elysées in Paris
  • ''Advertising insults my intelligence'', say 42 per cent of people in the UK, 23 per cent in Ireland and 49 per cent in the USA