Associate Art Director Vs Art Director

Associate art directors and art directors begin their careers with similar academic backgrounds, however, they both have different responsibilities. This article discusses those differences as well as some important financial information.

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Comparing Associate Art Directors to Art Director

Associate art directors and art directors are creatively inclined professionals that work on projects in a variety of media spanning from magazines to film. Associate art directors are professionals that work under the supervision of art directors to assist in the graphic design of brands, layouts, advertisements, or other creative-driven tasks. Art directors are placed in total charge of the visual stylings for stage productions, television shows, or newspapers. Below is a contrast of these two professionals along with salary and job growth figures.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017) Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Associate Art Director Bachelor's degree $62,964* 2% (art directors)
Art Director Bachelor's degree $89,820** 2%

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

Responsibilities of Associate Art Directors vs. Art Directors

Both of these positions hold backgrounds in design or art and apply their knowledge to create presentations that will bring about an emotion in clients and/or the public. Associate art directors are typically assistants to other directors in charge of graphic productions for magazines, branding companies, websites and other organizations. Associate directors work on specific designs for the company and may be the first people to see finished work. Art directors, on the other hand, are the people in charge of creating the concepts and design ideas for movie productions, newspapers, or internet layouts. Since they are focused on the big-picture, they often delegate work to team members and oversee the process from brainstorming to final product.

Associate Art Directors

Associate art directors work for a variety of companies who need help with their promotions, advertising or marketing, and work under a senior director, art director or other graphic directors to achieve creative and artistic goals. These experts bring a variety of knowledge and experience to the table with their design abilities as well as having the pulse of the client and customer in their sites. They also know the various fields they work in - internet media, press, entertainment, film. They typically possess an associate degree or bachelor's degree in graphic art design and are able to use various design software.

Job responsibilities of an associate art director include:

  • Staying current on the latest in computer aided design techniques
  • Mediating between directors and artists and designers
  • Designing prototypes, models, concept blueprints, and other layouts
  • Training employees on company's strategies

Art Director

An art director can be found working on a Hollywood production casting for a film. Other art directors might design layouts for an international magazine; and others, still, might work for a packaging company designing products for a new brand of candy. Art directors create the overall style and design for all of these projects and lead teams to make sure the productions fulfill the goals of the company. Most art directors work for advertising firms, public relations organizations or publishing companies leading teams of artists whose job it is to bring concepts to life. This position typically requires years of experience along with a bachelor's degree in art or design or related field.

Job responsibilities of an art director include:

  • Mentoring new artists and designers
  • Brainstorming concepts with executives and other directors
  • Working to meet deadlines and stay on budget
  • Developing staff and project schedules
  • Collaborating with outside subcontracted artists and designers

Related Careers

Those interested in designing brands or graphics, similar duties performed by associate art directors, might look into becoming computer animators. Alternatively, those with experience directing teams and projects may also consider becoming an industrial designer creating toys or products for automobiles.

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