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Senior Designer Vs Art Director

Both senior designers and art directors involve artistic design, leading others, and meeting some tight deadlines. However, while the jobs can be very similar, we'll explore some key distinctions between the two careers.

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Comparing Senior Designers to Art Directors

Senior designers and art directors are both responsible for the visual design style of packaging, advertisements, magazines, and other mediums. While senior graphic designers lead their team of designers in projects, art directors may be in charge of all designers, as they take a broader look at work and consider the entirety of the visual design. More similarities and differences are explored below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Senior Designer Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design or related field $59,574 (for senior graphic designers in 2017)** 1% (for all graphic designers)
Art Director Bachelor of Arts or Fine Arts Degree $89,820 (2016)* 2%

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale

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Responsibilities of Senior Designers vs. Art Directors

The visual designs we encounter in our daily lives are created by senior designers and art directors. Senior designers receive the specifications and requirements of a design project and then lead a team of designers in executing the vision. In some cases, senior designers report to art directors. Art directors oversee all designers and are in charge of shaping a look that makes clients happy and is cohesive with their brand. While the position of senior designer is most common in graphic design, the role of art director is used in a wider array of industries, such as advertising, film, and video games.

Senior Designer

A senior designer is in charge of a team of designers, generally in some form of graphic design. Senior designers work with clients to understand their needs and desires, and then work to assure that the team executes the vision. It is common for designers to have an associate's or bachelor's degree in design or attend art school. Most senior designers begin their careers by accumulating a great deal of experience as freelance or junior designers.

Job responsibilities of a senior designer include:

  • Excelling at using computer programs and other mediums for artistic design
  • Meeting client deadlines, even if it means working extended hours
  • Communicating with teams, providing suggestions and support
  • Giving final approval on all work before being handed in to the client

Art Director

Art directors are in charge of the overall visual design of mediums such as film, magazines, television, and product packaging. These directors oversee and approve the work of teams in order to execute this vision. Art directors tend to work in fast-paced office environments and must be able to handle the pressure of strict deadlines. Art directors should have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a design or an arts-related area. To become an art director you must have a portfolio that shows off your advanced level of experience, usually as a graphic designer, photographer, editor, or other position in the arts.

Job responsibilities of an art director include:

  • Communicating vision in a clear and concise way to teams of artists and designers
  • Coordinating artistic work with other departments
  • Maintaining strong relationships with clients
  • Overseeing budgets and deadlines

Related Careers

Senior designer and art director are both design careers that both focus heavily on leadership and management. If you are looking for something more strictly focused on the design side of things, there are many options, including becoming a computer or cartoon animator.

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