What does a Design Director do?

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  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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A design director usually holds a supervisory role and is responsible for leading a creative team of individuals. A person in this position typically oversees others who work in unison to create an overall artistic atmosphere or final product. Using innovation and imagination, concepts may be created and visualized for advertising purposes, interior design, print graphics, website layouts, and even special event themed decor. A design director guides staff members and other creative professionals to bring collaborative visions to fruition.

Artists, production staff, copywriters, sculptors and other designers are usually supervised and inspired by a firm's design director. He leads creative meetings and brainstorming sessions. Whether a team is coming up with ideas for the design of a store window, a product catalog, an advertising campaign, themed events or website layouts, input from a variety of people often develops into groundbreaking and extraordinary ideas. Not only does the design director help come up with great concepts, he also leads a team toward implementation.


Sometimes referred to as creative directors, people in these positions frequently participate in client meetings and sales pitches. They often assist sales executives when proposing overall ideas or concepts. In advertising, for example, a design director may need to come up with innovative ideas very quickly to sell the design services for the firm. Since this person is often a visionary, he is usually able to figure out what the client is hoping to achieve and generate excitement about a campaign. He eloquently describes his vision with words; drawings; and many times, storyboards and print graphics.

Additionally, a design director is often responsible for the overall quality of work that all other departments are charged with producing. For this reason, he should be very hands-on and maintain an open line of communication with other team members. Checking the progress of various projects throughout the day, he can offer expert advice as to how improvements can be made. He may suggest alterations to color palettes, photographs used in print advertising or even subtle design changes that may ultimately improve the look of a presentation.

Most agencies require a design director to have a higher level of education. A bachelor's degree or master's degree is often desirable. Experienced individuals in this leadership position generally can earn lucrative salaries. The job can be quite demanding, but people in this creative industry usually find the work to be incredibly rewarding.


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