Difference Between Creative Director & Art Director

Creative directors and art directors have similar duties, though they work at different levels and stages. Read about these career options, salary information, and education requirements.

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Comparing Creative Director to Art Director

Creative directors and art directors are both high-level supervisory positions that require creative, artistic leadership. Creative directors, however, develop the ideas of a project, while art directors supervise the actual creation. Learn more about these creative career options and how they relate and differ.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Creative Director Bachelor's Degree $127,560 (Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers) 9% (Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers)
Art Director Bachelor's Degree $89,820 2%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Creative Director vs Art Director

Creative directors and art directors are both leaders in their profession, guiding others to create for the project they are working on. Creative directors decide on ideas and guide a company or project's overall vision; they often have business acumen and may work across departments, reporting to top executives or producers. Art directors, on the other hand, focus on the creative process. They lead teams of skilled artists to execute certain aspects of the overall creative plan (as devised by the creative director). Both types of professionals must have excellent leadership abilities and a background relating to art to effectively lead teams of designers. They also both work in a variety of fields, such as graphic design, advertising, music, magazines, newspapers, television and movie productions.

Creative Director

Since creative directors can work in a variety of fields, they have different tasks that they are responsible for depending on the industry they are working in. Most of their work takes places in an office type setting where they can supervise design campaigns as well as assist and lead other staff members. Some of the projects a creative director might oversee include website designs, commercials, casting, and leading artistic teams. Creative directors must be able to communicate effectively, work as part of a group, and supervise multiple groups.

Job responsibilities of a creative director include:

  • Leading marketing campaigns
  • Creating promotional products
  • Promoting product brands
  • Planning out an entire project from start to finish

Art Director

Art directors supervise designers in creating designs and layouts used for magazines, newspapers, movie productions, and packaging for products. They must have excellent communication skills to effectively inform team members of project goals and ideas. Art directors typically have important deadlines to meet for projects, so they must have good time-management skills to finish different projects by their projected deadline. Art directors work in an office setting, which is fast-paced and can be stressful to ensure deadlines are met.

Job responsibilities of an art director include:

  • Selecting designs used for projects
  • Developing a plan for art that should be used
  • Discussing with clients what they want
  • Following budgets

Related Careers

Individuals interested in becoming a creative director may also be interested in a career as an editor. Editors spend time editing publications though much of their job consists of planning and organizing, similar to what creative directors do. Prospective art directors may be interested in a career as a graphic designer, where they would do less leading and more creating of designs for printed and digital media.

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