Art Director

As a Creative, corporate positions are usually not for us. It even feels restrictive when we say words like company position, job, salary, etc. As a graphic designer, this is the MOTHER of all creative corporate positions! Create the flow of video games, theater, concerts, music videos, magazines, and much more!

What It Takes and the Requirements:

What you do:

  • Manage the creative layout of publications, advertisements, film/theatrical/television/web/music productions, video games, magazines/newspapers, and industries in need of artistic representation
  • You need to know how to work with a team, put together their individual talents to create a unified vision for the project, present your information to the clients, a board, basically the people that say “Yes” or “No” to the project, and push that vision forward to present to the public
  • You need to be a leader, a communicator, professional, task-master, attention to details, and you need to know how to manage time for you and your team (meet deadlines


  • BA in art, advertising, graphic design or a reputable art field (although some of the best art directors don’t have a degree, they use their creativity, knowledge, communication skills, professionalism, and tenacity to earn their way to this position)
  • Minor in fine arts, media, and/or communications

Pros and Cons


  • High salary – approximately $95,000 – $150,000+
  • You make all of the creative work come together to represent the face of the company/product/service
  • Teamwork and independent  work – if you like that then you’ll do great
  • You are in charge


  • You are in charge – if things go bad it’s on YOU
  • You need to know how to communicate
  • Attention to detail and time managements are musts – as a Creative this may pose a little challenging
  • Don’t get power hungry

(Image Credit: Pixabay | sasint)

How to Start

  • Start by building an unforgettable portfolio – graphic art, prototypes, logos, layout designs for websites, creations for any media platforms, any ideas for relatable industries, any pitches/presentations, anything that makes you look good at what you do
  • Present yourself as a professional – efficient, manage time well, attentive to detail, everything you want in a leader
  • Make friends – people talking about how cool you are may get you in the door
  • Do your research. You need to know how to be an art director for a particular company or independent

Salary v.s. Freelance

Salary is amazing! You could earn approximately $75,000 – $150,000, the larger being in larger, thriving industries. Freelance, you can make approximately $40-$50/hr. It depends on the environment you feel more comfortable. If you are ok with corporations, I would suggest you go with a salary position because of the stability and benefits. You could also make a great living freelancing but know how to be a successful freelancer.

What the Experts Say

CreativeBloq | Creative Director: Pro Advice For Snagging The Top Spot

 | Advice For Freelance Illustrators From An Art Director

 | How To Make It: 10 Rules For Success From Art Directors


Places where this industry is thriving and Cost of Living (AnimationCareerReview | Expatistan and AreaVibes):

New York, NY – Cost of living in New York, NY

Boston, MA – Cost of living in Boston, MA

Los Angels, CA – Cost of living in Los Angeles, CA

Washington, DC – Cost of living in Washington, DC

Northern Virginia – Cost of living in Dulles, VA (AreaVibes)Cost of living in McLean, VA, Cost of living in Arlington, VA, and Cost of living in Alexandria, VA *Note: Click through the Index to see the actual costs*

Atlanta, GA – Cost of living in Atlanta, GA

(Image Credit: Pixabay | Ryan McGuire)


The future of being an Art or Creative Director is vastly changing. Now that we are into virtual reality, gaming is LIFE and streaming services are the new normal, creativity in delivering products/services/performances, etc. are going to rest on the shoulders of the directors. Here are some upcoming trends that pique the interest of consumers:

What Will Art Look Like In 20 Years

RiseArt – The Future of the Art Market: 4 Trends

Artsy – The Five Trends That Will Shape the Art Market in 2019


More Information | Could Justin Timberlake Be Your Boss? The Life of Art Directors and Creative Directors | The Difference Between an Art Director and a Creative Director

Forbes | Are These The Top 10 Creative Directors