Design Director Vs Creative Director

Creative directors and design directors work for a variety of companies to produce products that are appealing artistically. Learn about these two director positions, what they do and what they pay in the following article.

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Comparing Design Directors to Creative Directors

Design directors and creative directors lead teams of professionals that are responsible for curating the appeal of a product or project, and they can work in a variety of areas, including interior design, marketing, architecture, and entertainment. Design directors, however, work with teams to conceive and produce the visual layout of a variety of media, including websites and magazines, while creative directors assist in activities such as writing, casting roles in films, or overseeing the art direction of a project. These two professions are compared below with some additional vital information about them both.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary* (2017) Job Growth** (2014-2024)
Design Director Bachelor's degree $105,979 (for design directors, advertising); $91,283 (for design directors, interior design) 2% (for all art directors)
Creative Director Bachelor's degree $86,063 (for creative directors) 2% (for all art directors)

Sources: *Payscale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Design Directors vs. Creative Directors

Design directors and creative directors share supervisory job responsibilities, such as handling the hiring and mentoring of team members, inspiring and encouraging the artists and designers, and reviewing work before the final submission. The design director oversees the creation of the initial design for a project that meets the needs and desires of a client. Creative directors, on the other hand, work on selecting specific images or photographs to include in a layout, producing digital or audio programming, or coming up with advertisements. Design and creative directors typically have years of experience that helps them to guide the progress and creative output of their team members.

Design Director

Design directors are vital to the worlds of video or film, computer gaming, and digital design, to name a few. They can also be important in the development of software and websites. Along with a team of other professionals, design directors come up with visual strategies for the production of a new brand, marketing a new product or laying out the pages for a magazine. When employed by a major corporation, design directors will need to be agile enough to juggle several projects at the same time.

Job responsibilities of a design director include:

  • Fostering a design oriented atmosphere
  • Staying updated with the latest in technology
  • Creating positive production with team building feedback and critiques
  • Making sure all deadlines are met with all work completed to the client's and company's requirements

Creative Director

Creative directors are often tasked with various projects aimed at meeting the needs of a client in art forms such as animation, film, video, or fashion. These professionals run teams working on such projects as graphics, motion capture, fine arts, or other digital art techniques. They might work on a movie or television show, reviewing scripts and watching auditions, or they might write copy for a company's website. Creative directors are hands-on with their responsibilities, and this might include becoming a mentor, instructor or coach to new hires.

Job responsibilities of a creative director include:

  • Discussing possible concepts design director and graphics teams
  • Modeling presentations when necessary for clients or executives
  • Determining use and placement of art, images, photographs, etc.
  • Monitoring collaboration between graphics teams and management

Related Careers

Industrial designers, like design directors, are innovative thinkers who work with engineers and scientists to create products like auto parts, HD televisions, waffle irons, and more. Creative directors often oversee the production of websites, so those interested in web design and programming may like a job as a web developer.

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