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Difference Between Copywriter & Art Director

Art directors lead a team of creative professionals that includes copywriters. One takes charge, the other creates words. This article breaks down the differences between art directors and copywriters so that you can choose the career that fits your interest.

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Comparing Copywriters to Art Directors

Copywriters write ads and other persuasive pieces to grab reader's attention. Art directors are idea guys who work with teams to create an overall effect to sell something or get people to change their action. The education, salary and projected employment outlook of these two careers are compared below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary Job Growth* (2014-2024)
Copywriter High School Diploma $48,323 (2017)** 2%* (for all writers)
Art Director Bachelor's Degree $89,820 (2016)* 2%*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale.com

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Responsibilities of Copywriters vs. Art Directors

Copywriters are the team members that art directors depend on to use their knowledge and expertise with words to help sell a product. Their assignments may vary from developing slogans to writing company handouts. Art directors spend their time leading teams in finding those themes that will help them meet the needs of a client looking to sell something or push a campaign. Art directors use their years of experience to guide a project needing both visual and textual concepts.

Copywriters

Copywriters must be team players. They must be able to think and work quickly, and they must be able to take ideas and flesh them out in short text, slogans or brochures. A necessary skill for copywriters is to be a good listener and absorb what the client wants and what the team is visualizing. The copywriter needs to be creative and quick with suggestions until the team has singled out one usable theme. At that point, copywriters work on their own or in a small team to come up with text that works.

Job responsibilities of a copywriter include:

  • Travel to meetings with clients or team
  • Adhere to grammatical and writing standards to develop content
  • Develop text, logos, slogans that reach an audience
  • Meet with directors and/or clients for new work or updating an old project
  • Review and edit work before presentation to client

Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for combining the ideas, graphics and text into visual concepts. These experts meet with clients needing their expertise to help them push a product or market a candidate in an election. Art directors run design teams that are made up of various men and women with different graphic art backgrounds to come up with an overall design idea. Art directors may begin their careers as artists, photographers or editors. They could find initial employment at a magazine, newspaper or advertising firm.

Job responsibilities of an art director include:

  • Determine the best visual concepts for a project
  • Utilize various art styles, like photographs, animation, or art
  • Discuss all work and updates with clients
  • Supervise and advise team members on all work
  • Presents final project to client

Related Careers

Individuals interested in writing compelling copy or managing every aspect of an artistic project have several related career options to consider. For instance, the copywriter could move up as an editor-in-chief, taking the lead reviewing and editing for a magazine, newspaper or a publication company. Art directors might wish to use their talents to work as public relations specialists acting as the face for an organization, company or candidate.

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