Production Designer Vs Art Director

Production designers and art directors walk in big shoes. Directors take charge and visualize a main idea. Production makes that idea come to life. This article contains a comparison of these two careers.

Comparing Production Designers to Art Directors

Production designers and art directors work under the big art umbrella. Both use art techniques to create designs for an audience. Production designers work with marketing or graphic designers for specific projects. Art directors are in charge of art campaigns and develop themes and concepts for magazines, brands or film productions. Below is a comparison of these art based careers and some interesting information about both.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Production Designer Bachelor's Degree $45,839** 1% (for all graphic designers)
Art Director Bachelor's Degree $89,820 2%

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com (2017 salary)

Responsibilities of Production Designers vs. Art Directors

Production designers and art directors work with art concepts. The major differences between the two is that production designers, like graphic designers, work on the creation of the idea. Art directors work with clients and design teams on the project conception. This kind of work can be seen in magazine layouts, product brands and television productions.

Production Designers

Production designers earn bachelor's degrees in areas like advertising or marketing. They also have a background and experience in computer design. Production designers need experience with various art styles and need to know how to use these styles to create a response for an audience. Designers could create items such as web layouts, banners and media promotional materials. These experts must be able to not only visualize a production campaign but follow it from concept to completion.

Job responsibilities of a production designer include:

  • Meet with art directors to consider a concept's scope
  • Use digital processes to create different types of artistic designs
  • Make presentations to directors or clients
  • Create visuals, animations and/or stagings
  • Review work before finalizing

Art Directors

Art directors are expected to take responsibility of the overall image of a publication or production. They work for clients who need their expertise to sell a product or run an advertising campaign. Design and art staff members look to art directors for approval, supervision and direction to fulfill the overall design theme. Many art directors start with bachelor's degree in art or design and begin their careers as artists, photographers, or editors.

Job responsibilities of an art director include:

  • Determine the best process for presenting visuals for a project
  • Decide which art styles to use: photographs, animation, or art
  • Discuss concept ideas with clients to determine artistic approach
  • Coordinate teams and supervise all work
  • Present visual models for clients pre-approval before final production

Related Careers

Production designers and art directors work in a variety of art styles. While one creates ideas, the other brings the ideas to life. One related career to consider is film/video editing for movies or television shows. Industrial designers on the other hand create products like cars, toys or appliances that are both functional and appealing to the eye.

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