Art Direction

What is it?

An art director is the person in charge of how a brand, agency, magazine or other publication communicates its visual identity. Unlike a creative director, whose role is to come up with big-picture ideas, art directors deal with the small details of transforming a concept into a physical product.

They manage a team of creatives, including graphic designers, illustrators, and photographers, and have the final say over campaign imagery, cover design, copy, and page layouts. It’s a highly creative role but it also involves many administrative and managerial tasks to communicate the creative vision of the company while balancing budgets and deadlines.

The career ladder

An art director is not an entry-level role — it can only be achieved after working in the fashion industry for several years. Art directors often start out their careers as editors, stylists, graphic designers or in other design-related roles at a brand, agency, or publication.

They work their way up the ladder through roles like a junior creative, senior creative, graphic designer, and designer to gain the experience needed to be a successful art director.

Daily tasks

Whether working on a brand campaign or magazine issue, art directors are in charge of the daily tasks needed to complete the final product. They create the strategy for how to achieve it, then brief and manage their teams, track the progress of a project, and oversee the budget.

In fashion, this role may include being on set to oversee a photo shoot, or working with a publication to storyboard a new issue of their magazine. Art directors work closely with other teams, such as marketing and editorial, to ensure that the visual elements are cohesive and on-brand.


For an art director, a career highlight could include working with your favourite brand or publication to create a beautiful image or magazine issue.

What should you study? What skill do you need?

To become an art director, you can study a range of courses, from graphic design to fine art, web design, or fashion branding and communications. Art directors need to be able to communicate well, manage a team of creative minds, think strategically, and be detail-oriented. They also need to have developed their own artistic vision and be able to execute the aesthetic of the company they work for.


You don’t have to be a fashion expert to work in art direction.
In fact, gaining inspiration from areas outside of fashion like music, travel, food and architecture is a great way to develop a unique sense of style!

Want to learn more?

It’s never too early to start learning the skills needed to become an art director. Whether that’s learning how to use InDesign or Photoshop, practicing your photography and editing skills, or designing your own portfolio, the skills you need to become an art director can be honed over many years.

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