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How do I Become an Art Director?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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If you want to become an art director, you'll need to decide on which area you'll be focusing on, such as film, books or advertising. Your decision should be reflected by the types of job prospects available in your area as well as your preference. Once you've done some basic career planning, you can then choose the best art director education and training.

Commonly in advertising, an art director works in partnership with a senior copywriter who manages a team of writers. This working style is especially prevalent in advertising agencies. If you hope to become an art director working in an ad agency, you'll have to be able to design compelling graphics that illustrate the persuasive messages created by the copywriting team. It's possible for either a copywriter or art director to move up into the position of creative director, but up to ten years of experience may be needed.

In the publishing industry, art directors work mainly in overseeing the design of book covers. Unless you live in a large city, or are willing to relocate to one, you may not be able to have the opportunity to become an art director for a book publisher. Many book cover art directors work in large publishing centers, such as New York City. They typically must start as an assistant art director and then progress to the full position, hiring designers to carry out their ideas for book covers.

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If the idea of working in the film industry inspires you to want to become an art director, it definitely can be done, but you're likely to have to do free internships in the beginning. Becoming part of a student film club at a university, especially in Southern California or other movie making hub, can help you make industry contacts. Watch movies to pay attention to set details and how the artistic elements create space as well as mood.

No matter what type of workplace you hope to be a part of as an art director, you'll have to be skilled at using computer technology. Whether you'll need Adobe Photoshop, QuarkXPress or skills in other programs, develop your ability to work effectively with art industry tools. You'll also need an excellent ability to use all types of computer-aided design (CAD) art software.

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