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.
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.
To be an advertising art director you should:
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.
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