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Graphic Design Industry Role Descriptions

Graphic Design Industry Role Descriptions


The Art Director

Now that we understand a bit about the role of the designer in the workplace, what about more senior level positions like art director? What do art directors typically do? Do art directors get to design or do they spend most of their time managing staff and interacting with clients?

The art director can be a bit of a mystery to a newly graduated designer. I think mostly because there is very little formal training available for this position. Most of the training for this job occurs in an office, not a classroom and to make things even more confusing, the role of an art director can depend on the size of the company.

In fact, the role of the art director is often very similar to that of the senior designer; with some companies demanding a more hands on approach. I asked several art directors how they typically spent their time and many of them claimed to spend up to 50% of their time actually designing while spending the rest of their time managing staff and interacting with clients. Other art directors claimed not to spend much time at all actually designing. In fact, some of them seemed to be more of a project manager than anything else; managing staff and making sure that deadlines were met.

So if the role of the art director is so varied, is a design background really all that essential? Most everyone I spoke to agreed that a design background is essential. Just about everyone started out as a designer and worked their way up to art direction. They learned management and communication skills along the way but most of them agreed that above all else, the most important part of being a good art director is to have a good eye for design; and to understand the fundamentals.

In Conclusion

If you learned one thing from this article I hope it is that no two positions are alike. While the titles may be the same, the responsibilities can vary wildly depending on several factors. Learn to adapt, pick up new skills and responsibilities, and do your best to learn from the people you work with.

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