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Advertising Art Director Profile

Advertising Art Director Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Advertising Art Director. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Advertising Art Director
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Advertising Art Director Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

An advertising art director is responsible for the visual aspects of an advertisement, whether it is a brochure, leaflet or press advert, specialist display material or TV ad.

Using background information from the creative team, they work with a copywriter to find the best way of communicating the idea for the advert. They present ideas in scripts and illustrative sketches known as 'storyboards' for TV, or 'roughs'.

When the client accepts the idea the art director oversees the work of designers, illustrators, and other creative personnel to produce the final advert.

Most work office hours, Monday to Friday, with evening and weekend work when deadlines approach. Art directors spend most of their time working indoors in comfortable offices or studios. They also travel to meet clients.

New entrants start at around £15,000. Successful art directors can earn over £50,000 a year.

An advertising art director needs:

• to be creative
• to be interested in art and design
• to understand photography, typography and printing techniques
• excellent communication skills
• an eye for detail
• able to work under pressure.

Most opportunities are in London. Other centres for advertising are Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester. Movement between agencies is common.

While there are no set qualifications, most art directors are graphic designers with degree or HND qualifications.

New entrants normally shadow experienced staff. Some larger agencies offer structured training programmes.

It may be possible to progress to senior art director or creative director.

What does the role encounter?

Advertising art directors are responsible for the visual aspects of an advertisement, whether it is a brochure, leaflet or press advert, specialist display material or TV ad.

They work as part of a creative team with a copywriter, who provides the words to go with the images.

The account management team briefs the art director with information about the client, the product, and the target audience. Art directors also need to be aware of the creative work produced by the client's competitors.

Usually, the account executive and the client decide the core message of the campaign. The art director’s job is to find the most effective way of communicating it. The art director and the copywriter consider the brief, rejecting some ideas and developing others until they come up with a final selection of ideas.

The ideas are shown to the creative director, as scripts and illustrative sketches known as 'storyboards' for TV, or 'roughs'. They may suggest modifications. Art directors may help to present the ideas to the client, and further negotiation and changes often follow until an idea is finally accepted.

The art director then oversees the production of the finished ad, which may involve overseeing designers, commissioning illustrators, directing photo shoots, and liaising with TV production companies.

Most art directors work under the supervision of a creative director and usually work on several projects at once. Some of their time is also spent in meetings.

Starting salaries are around £15,000 a year.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Working hours are usually 9am to 5pm, or 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, but art directors must be flexible enough to work evenings and weekends when needed. Some agencies have flexible working hours on the understanding that staff will work late when deadlines demand it.

Art directors spend most of their time working indoors in comfortable offices or studios. Much of their time is spent sitting.

They spend some time travelling to meet clients, and to visit TV studios or locations where ads are being filmed.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are only a guide.

London agencies usually offer the highest wages.

New entrants start at around £15,000 a year.
Experienced art directors earn £30,000 to £40,000.
Successful art directors in leading agencies can earn over £50,000.

What type of skills will I need?

Advertising art directors need:

• to be creative
• understanding of the target market
• understanding of photography, typography and printing techniques
• good communication skills
• to work well in a team and with a range of people
• good computer skills
• to be able to work under pressure
• a good eye for detail
• to be able to cope with criticism
• to be able to see other people's points of view
• enthusiasm for their work without becoming too attached to it
• to be able to work within strict budgets.

What type of training will I receive?

Training varies according to the size of agency. Trainees may spend time shadowing more experienced staff, while larger agencies are likely to have structured training programmes.

Career Progression:

In large agencies, it may be possible to progress to senior art director or creative director.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Advertising Account Executive
Fine Artist
Graphic Designer
Internet/Web Professional
Multimedia Designer

Where can I find further information?

Account Planning Group, 16 Creighton Avenue, London N10 1NU. 020 8444 3692. Website:

The Advertising Association, Abford House, 15 Wilton Road, London SW1V 1NJ. 020 7828 2771. Website:

Communication, Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation Ltd (CAM), Moor Hall, Cookham, Maidenhead SL6 9QH. 01628 427 120. Website:

The Creative Circle, 22 Poland Street, London W1F 8QQ. 020 7734 9334. Website:

Design and Art Directors Association, 9 Graphite Square, Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5EE. 020 7840 1111. Website:

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), 44 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8QS. 020 7235 7020. Website:

What trade magazines are available for this industry?

All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:

Creative Review
Marketing Week
Media Week
The Guardian

Other Useful Advertising Art Director Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Advertising Art Director job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Advertising Art Director Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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