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Design Manager Vs Art Director

Design managers and art directors both have design experience, but work in different industries with different tasks. Here you can learn more about each career option and employment information.

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Comparing Design Manager to Art Director

Design managers and art directors both supervise designers in designing various projects for clients. While art directors do take part in the creative process, design managers typically ensure productivity of the designers they are overseeing rather than actually creating art. Learn more about these creative occupations and how they compare to each other.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Design Manager Bachelor's Degree $78,546 (2017)** 9% (All Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers)
Art Director Bachelor's Degree $89,820 (2016)* 2%

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

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Advertising and Commercial Design
  • Commercial Photography
  • Fashion Design
  • General Visual Communications Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration and Drawing
  • Industrial Design
  • Interior Design and Decorating

Responsibilities of Design Manager vs Art Director

Design managers organize and maintain designs created by their designers for a project. They do not normally take part in the creative process of creating designs. On the other hand, art directors not only supervise other artists but they also assist with creating images and layouts that are used for magazines, newspapers, and television or movie productions. While art directors work closely with the design process, design managers typically ensure that production is running efficiently.

Design Manager

Design managers have several different career opportunities including working in web design, decorating, building, and marketing. Throughout these different fields, they have one common goal which is to oversee their team of designers. Design managers are responsible for finding new and improved plans to help with productivity as well as ensuring the team is completing projects in a timely manner. They need exceptional communication skills as they work closely with their design team to make certain that a project runs smoothly. Depending on the industry the design manager is working in, there may be other requirements including computer skills or engineering knowledge.

Job responsibilities of a design manager include:

  • Hiring staff
  • Training staff
  • Conducting performance reviews
  • Writing reports and giving presentations
  • Understanding client needs
  • Improving areas of production

Art Director

Art directors lead a group of designers in creating designs and layouts used for magazines, newspapers, movie productions, and packaging for products. In addition, they will come up with ideas and explain their ideas to their team members. They must have outstanding communication skills to effectively inform staff of project goals and keep them motivated. Art directors must be able to keep their team on a schedule to ensure their designers complete projects by the intended deadline. Art directors must understand what is going on with all aspects of a project and work with different design elements.

Job responsibilities of an art director include:

  • Choosing designs and layouts to be used
  • Planning a project
  • Meeting with clients to discuss design options
  • Following budgets

Related Careers

Those wanting to become a design manager might be interested in a career in project management, where they would do many of the same duties including managing staff and a project. An alternative career option for those wanting to be an art director could include becoming an industrial designer where they would be still creating, but they would be creating manufactured products like toys, and cars.

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