Art Director Vs Graphic Designer

Art directors and graphic designers do some work together, but have very different roles in the design field. Learn about the similarities and differences as well as important career information for each position.

View popular schools

Comparing Art Directors to Graphic Designers

Art directors and graphic designers work together to produce effective artwork used in various types of media. Art directors are in charge of supervising others working on the project, including graphic designers, while the graphic designers produce the actual designs. Though these two occupations work together to develop creative pieces, they have different responsibilities.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Art Director Bachelor's Degree $89,820 2%
Graphic Designer Bachelor's Degree $47,640 1%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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 Art Directors vs Graphic Designers

Art directors manage those who create the artwork and design layouts for newspapers, magazines, film, video games and television productions. Art directors work with the graphic designers on the development of printed media, however they also work with producers and directors to develop a style and set to use in movie productions. Graphic designers are often tasked to create or redesign advertisements, brochures, websites and magazine layouts. Though art directors and graphic designers are part of the same line of work, they are on different leadership levels as art directors typically do not create the art but do review it.

Art Director

Art directors work with different types of media to incorporate different visually appealing styles and images. Most of their work requires collaboration with designers and excellent communication skills to help others understand their vision for the project. They also rely on their leadership skills to ensure designers are completing projects on time and providing motivation. Though art directors typically do not actually create the artwork used on projects, they do help come up with ideas and layout options that designers can use. There is a lot of pressure that comes with this occupation which stems from the leadership that is required and deadlines set up for projects.

Job responsibilities of an art director include:

  • Communicating with clients to learn what they are looking for
  • Creating an overall theme or style to be used
  • Looking over and approving designs of other designers
  • Choosing which art to use in the final product
  • Staying under budget and within the time frame given

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers are responsible for creating layouts and designs for printed media, such as newspapers, magazines, and brochures, or websites. They create different designs, logos and illustrations for clients so they must have exceptional artistic abilities. Their designs must be creative and unique to effectively market and sell product and services. Graphic designers produce most of their images and designs on a computer, so they also must have excellent computer skills. They can continue their career to become art directors or chief designers, which are more supervisory roles.

Job responsibilities of a graphic designer include:

  • Creating logos or designs for organizations and businesses
  • Presenting designs to clients
  • Communicating ideas in art form
  • Using and staying up-to-date with software and computer programs

Related Careers

Those interested in a career as an art director might also find an industrial designer an interesting career option because they both design and plan out projects based on budget and a timeline, though industrial designers work on projects such as automobiles and home appliances. A multimedia artist is an alternative career option for those interested in graphic design as both positions require one to create artwork. However, a multimedia artist works with animation and visual effects in movies, television, and video games while graphic designers work most commonly in printed media or websites.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?