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Topic Art Directors, Creative Directors: How? Go to previous topic Go to next topic Go to higher level

By deadulasch On 08/20/02  

I just finished my B.A. in Art History about five minutes ago but I know, without a doubt (okay, with some vague tingles of doubt), that art direction is where i want to be. I've taken a few visual arts classes and I'm thinking about studying graphic design and photography somewhere now--maybe RISD. I'm in NYC but i want to go back to California for a while to work on my . . . work (screen printing, painting, photography, drinking, sewing.) because i can't think here.

Problem: I have no idea how one BECOMES an art director. What is the path to this slightly ambiguous, dream position? Any advice?

By monkeyrocker On 08/20/02  

Hey, that's my dream job too. I'm planning on getting there with my intense charm and a little bit of, I figure I got what it takes: I've got defined taste, a good eye, am mean as a rattle-snake, and think I'm always right! ha ha ha.

Seriously, as long as you're in NY, you might as well try and do some networking. Perhaps you could try getting an appointment with
(or at least an e-mail address for) an art director at a publication you admire and ask THEM how they got where they are. And, um, my suggestion would be to try and fenagle an internship somewhere. That way you can figure out if it's really worth paying for a second degree to pursue this career.

By seventwelve On 08/20/02  

heh... every job listing I've ever seen says "five years of experience as an art director..." Well, as it always goes, how the hell am I supposed to get experience if you won't give me any?

By lindastar On 08/20/02  

i second the get an internship. $$$. i'm working as a "jr. graphic designer" right now, although it didn't work out how i'd hoped (not much designing.... no wonder she hired me w/o a design portfolio).

now i have to leave and do something else.

i'm in NYC too. I'm sure there are glittery graphic designers on here. can i meet any of you for dinner/drinks? networking party?

By Lacey On 08/20/02  

I'm not an art director but thought I wanted to go that direction for a while then changed my mind and am now thinking of pursuing it again.
First you must be either a junior art director or assistant art director.
In most cases this means you should have a very good understanding of Quark and Illustrator.
Also, as in assistant in many cases this means that you will be the gopher for every art director and creative director above you for a while until you are hired as one yourself.
If I ended up going that way again then I'd go for a smaller company. I worked for one of the top 10 advertising agencies in NYC a few years ago and was suprized by how "sharky" advertising can be. I will now only go for smaller places. I'm a bit too sensitive to be in a big company. Healthy competition is nice...but people who will do any dirty thing to get a certain commercial pisses me off.

I'm sure there are other glitter girls who will have more advice.

By deadulasch On 08/20/02  

Ah. the sweet sound of advice.

I do know two art directors-both of whom work for magazines that i love/salivate over ( Wallpaper* and *Surface) and both of whom got said positions by either knowing the publisher when the magazine launched (he was a photographer at the time) or by being the editors friend.

Even design internships require training i don't really have. And I'm done with internships. I want an MFA regardless and money's not really a problem. I'm just not trying to stay in New York right now. I'd like to leave, and then come back in 16 months and fall into a kick ass jr. art director or assistant art director's position like That. High hopes? Pipe dreams? No doubt. Won't schoolin' help? Even a little?

By PL_SausageQueen On 08/20/02  

I started as an assistant art director (which was pretty lucky, cuz I jumped over few stepping stones) now I am waiting for my promotion... which should be arriving sometimes this week (so psyched!!!)

But this is how it goes—these the steps you have to take:
most of all, good art education/knowledge is pretty much manditory, so is a strong graphic design background/portfolio...( if you want to art direct others, you must first know the basics yourself :how to, why and where...)
~if you're persuing advertising:
normally you start as a designer (alto some places have a cheek to star you as production stuff) — year or two later (if you work hard and shine—it's usually sooner) you get an assistant art director position— another year of two you're art director —senior art director fallows—assistant creative director—creative director

~if you're persuing graphic design: (much longer process)
normally you start as a junior designer (some places again could star you as production stuff) — year or two later designer— another year of two senior designer —year or two later you get an assistant art director position—another year of two you're art director —senior art director fallows—assistant creative director—creative director

meanwhile this's what I would do in your position:
~get a portfolio together (give yourself projects: self stationary, posters, promo pieces,[redesign exsisting] book covers, booklets, cd covers [pick really bad ones] fake: magazine spread layouts....etc) even if its not perfect it's ok just do your best

~get as much and any experience; an intenship—the non-paid ones are easier to get, voluntary design, keep making contaccs connections....etc

~and keep taking classes (schooling cannot hurt you but help!)—you're already have a degree so it should be no problem, so you can either take non credit (cheaper) clasess or work up toward the second degree in design...

good luck!

ps.Lindastar, designer connection dinner sounds great let's get together!

By lindastar On 08/21/02  

I'm working on getting a portfolio together (mostly painting/drawing stuff just for lack of actual design work at actual "graphic design" job). maybe i can show you that, you can give me harsh criticisms, advice, etc etc. i'll let you know when its together (def by this friday) and perhaps we can meet next week? i'll probably meet you at the picnic! we can plan then :)

oh i am so excited about all of the cool glitter girls!

By PL_SausageQueen On 08/21/02  

lindastar ,
yeah, I 'll be glag to ;)

~I might have to work for few hours this weekend so if I am not at the picnic maybe we can meet up in some coffeshop....

By Lacey On 08/21/02  

Wallpaper and Surface!!!!!!!!!
* I just fainted *

By ursonate On 08/21/02  

A friend of mine who became an art director where we used to work together worked as a graphic designer for a few years at a few different places. He became the art director when the previous art director left the company. You have to ideally get a lot of experience and become a kickass designer. Work on a lot of personal projects as most corporate work is not exciting to look at. Creative directors can be a little different depending on the type of company you are at. When I worked at a big web company, some of the creative directors were not artists. They were writers..

anyway, hang out alot at or and you'll get the vibe...

By lindastar On 08/21/02  

sounds great. i just finished my portfolio today. of course its hardly graphic design related but oh well. i've got lots of ???s for you anyway. :)


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