Level Up - Art Director

What’s it like?

As an Art Director, you work as an artistic chameleon while also bringing your own individual voice and vision to clients. At times you will be asked to modify or update pre-existing client material into a new context; in other times, you will be expected to create an entirely new look at a product or service that defies expectations.

You will be expected to have full mastery of both Photoshop and Illustrator while deftly moving between pitching and production phases. You can expect to work tightly with your Creative Director as you ideate through possible solutions together. You should be cultivating a wide range of references and inspirations that can be called upon to supplement the Creative Director’s concepts.

While you may not be animating “on-the-box” in this position, you will be expected to understand the animation process; knowing how your work will be handed off to the animation team when a job goes into production will help you rise through the ranks.

Good Example Projects

The definitive example of an Art Director’s demo reel, Nidia’s demo reel shows the range of looks, tools, and emotions that an Art Director will be expected to be capable of. Evocative use of type, clean corporate imagery that yet never feels stale or safe, impeccable use of color and composition across a wide selection of clients; Nidia’s work spans print, pitch, and animation production.

Across the span of work, the voice of the artist is never lost; despite a roster of clients that include HP, Microsoft, Nike, Audi, ESPN and more, Nidia’s interests and obsessions permeate to the surface.

A fascination of the natural world by way of the hyper detail found in study of surfaces.

Use of product design lighting and composition techniques to change the context of common objects.

An obsession with translucency in all forms.

Her voice as an artist with interests, inspirations, and obsessions draws in clients.

Need To Know Skills

To start your career as an Art Director you’ll need to be able to do the following.

  • 2D Design Mastery: Your understanding of 2D image creation is second to none; you know when to reach for vector tools and when to call on photo-based and raster image creation.
  • Storyboards + Styleframes: A strong understanding of film language and storytelling techniques allows you to photo-bash quick look styleframes for pitching as well as generating imagery from scratch in various illustration styles for final assets to be used by the animation team in the production phase.

Additional Skills

In addition to the skills above, you may want to sharpen your skills in the following areas:

  • Cinematography: Combine your mastery of design principles with an understanding of how to position and place lights and camera in a 3D environment to create theme and tone in the service of storytelling

What Course should I take?

Start Your Journey

  • Photoshop & Illustrator Unleashed: Create artwork from scratch in both raster and vector formats for logo lockups, storyboards, and styleframes with full confidence in the respective workflows of both Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Design Kickstart: Hone your understanding of Design Fundamentals; learn how they work individually and in concert together to help create theme and tone in your design work. You will learn how to see like a designer, simplify complex ideas, and wield type, color, and contrast with supreme confidence.
  • Design Bootcamp: Push your use of Design Fundamentals through deliberate and demanding exercises patterned after real-world assignments built to push your Photoshop and Illustrator skills into storyboarding and styleframing.

Grow Your Skills

  • Explainer Camp: Understand the process of taking a fully-realized piece from bid to final render and delivery to client as well as you understand tools like Photoshop and Illustrator.

Level Up!

To advance to the next level in your career check out the article(s) below that take you through what you’ll need to know to advance.

Not sure where to go next? Check out our free Level Up! course for more information on where you can go in your Motion Design Career.

Not Ready Yet?

If you’re looking to explore what comes before this level in your career check out these options that you can build on to reach this level: