How To Become An Art Director? Qualification, Skills & Salary

Updated on November 1, 2022 in Ecommerce by

How To Become An Art Director? Qualification, Skills & Salary

Are you looking to become an art director and have some serious questions about it? This article is all you want.

Here, I am sharing everything on How To Become An Art Director? So by the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly what you need to do and if or not this field excites you.

Becoming an art director is a great career decision if you are a creative and people person. It is a career, filled with opportunities, scalability, and rewards. But more importantly, when you become an art director, you’ll know that it is in high demand.

Art directors are highly valuable in the advertising, public relations, and eCommerce industry.

But let’s keep these random chit-chats for further in this article. Here, let’s get started with the ultimate guide to becoming an art director.

What is art direction?

Art direction is a way to present a product, person or place creatively to evoke a sense of a particular culture, emotional reaction, or sometimes even action from the audience.

Art direction also helps in communicating and sharing certain information through visual mediums only. This is a very important aspect of films, digital & print media, advertising as well as the growing eCommerce industry.

Who is an art director?

Who is an art director?

An art director is a person who manages other creative people on the team, keeps track of their progress, and ensures that all the creative projects are completed effectively as well as on time.

When you become an art director, you are also responsible for reporting your team’s progress to other managers and aligning your team’s efforts with the whole organization.

It’s a role best suited for the creative person who has an interest and experience in design, art, communication, and project management.

It requires both creative and people skills to scale in this field of career. If you believe you are creative and are able to manage people, you can become an art director.

What does an art director do?

What does an art director do?

When you become an art director, your day-to-day responsibility as an art director can vary from industry to industry; organization to organization.

But one thing that is for sure is the role’s dependency on the creative and aesthetic side of the business.

Becoming an art director means making sure that every tiny and visual detail related to the representation of a product, a model, or a concept is done through and through.

Now be it the background you choose for your product photos, the font style you follow on the ads, or the tone of the whole shot that will be followed.

In short, when you become an art director, it’s your responsibility to manage all the creative, aesthetic, and visual sides of a campaign.

Eligibility & Qualification to becoming an art director

When you become an art director, you’ll be dealing with a lot of creative work. So while looking for the most common eligibility & qualification criteria, I found that companies are looking for the following qualifications in their next art director:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, business, design,, or another relevant schooling
  • Strong knowledge of creative tools in the industry like Photoshop, photography, Illustration, In-design, Figma, etc.
  • Internship or previous experience in project management or teamwork
  • Graphic designing or photography portfolio (depending on the organization)

While there are other few skills that you’ll be learning further in the article, these four are the top qualifications that companies are looking for in an art director on LinkedIn.

Skills you need to become an art director

To become an art director, one need’s more than just qualifications. Just like you can learn skills in design, Photoshop, and Adobe Creative Cloud; you can also learn the following. 

Time management

Skills to become an art director - Time management

Time management is a crucial skill that one needs in every field of career. But this is a skill that will come into practice regularly when you become an art director.

You’ll be working on strict deadlines that you’ll have to match because the whole team and project depend on it.

To be specific, your work will act as a foundation on which the whole campaign will be built.

As you can see, being punctual will pay you well when you become an art director.

People skills

Skills to become an art director - People Skills

When you are an art director, you’ll be managing a group of creative people and will be involved with other managerial activities. That means you’ll be in touch with a lot of people daily.

In addition to that, you’ll also be helping your team and getting the work done on time, and sticking to the schedule.

If you are good with people, it’ll be a breeze of work as it allows you to interact with different personalities and manage all of them together.


Skills to become an art director - organized

No matter what type or size of organization you work in. Being organized is something that will help you in your professional and personal life.

As an art director, you’ll be working on different projects and campaigns with multiple people. and different teams at the same time.

Your work will involve keeping things organized so that it becomes easy for other people to find and access your work. The easier you make people work, the more likely you are likely to escalate your career in an organization.


Skills to become an art director - Goal oriented

Being goal-oriented means, taking steps for a reason. When you become an art director, your job will be to lay a strong foundation for the campaign and your team.

If you are in a large organization, you’ll have a goal to work along the strategy to achieve a certain creative goal.

So it is expected from you that every decision and step you take is to achieve your goal much more efficiently.

Eye for detail

Skills to become an art director - eye for detail

When you become an art director, you are responsible for getting the work done. More importantly, getting it done with accuracy and efficiency. 

Since you are already expected to have experience/portfolio in design or photography, you must be aware of the importance of the details.

A slight addition or cleaning in the frame can take it from good to WOW! Something that every organization and team is looking for.

Creatively Updated

Skills to become an art director - creatively updated

In order to become an art director, you’ll have to be aware of creative trends in the industry. And being in a creative field, means you will be expected to stay with ‌the trends and give professional advice to get better results.

And this is only possible when you are keeping up with the upcoming professionals in your industry. In addition to that, keeping a mood board of styles and designs can also help you keep track of all the designs and artwork that inspire you.

This is also great to connect with people with similar interests as yours and work together on creating within the same range.

Steps to becoming an art director

When you become an art director is something really valuable and field with practical learning. In addition to that, while many art directors’ roles ask for a professional degree and qualification, they always value skills more.

Here are the steps that you can follow to become an art director.

Work on the skills

When you become an art director, skills are your only true assets. Even if you are holding a degree/certificate you must have the required skills for the job to land it. These skills will mainly depend on the industry that you want to be part of.

For example, if you want to become an art director in the eCommerce and retail industry, having a good knowledge of photography and photoshop will be helpful. These skills will help you manage product photography and product photo editing.

Similarly, if you are working in a different industry, you will be dependent on your skills. It will be a great idea to work on your skills before you start your journey of becoming an art director.

Create a portfolio

A portfolio is a beautiful collection of all your best work, organized and arranged in a way that you can share with someone.

Having a portfolio of work can be rewarding as you can showcase your past work and give a good understanding of your skills.

This also showcases your professionalism and commitment to the work. You can create an online and offline portfolio that you can share with clients or the talent acquisition team, hiring an art director.

Build a network

When I say build a network, I mean connect with other art directors and teams that are hiring art directors.

When you become an art director you need a mix of both in your network, as this will help you be in touch with people who can help keep learning, as well as give you a professional opportunity to scale your career.

In addition to that, it would be great if you could share your progress on a daily or weekly basis. This simple way will allow people to connect with you, engage and help you whenever you have any questions.

Apply for your dream job

You have your skills, you have your portfolio/experience and you have a network. With all this, you are all set to apply for your next best job. You might find the right fit on your first go or after through multiple interviews and organizations.

But whatever the case may be, I highly encourage you to ask questions. During interviews, you must learn about the expectations they have from the person fulfilling the role.

In case they decide to move ahead with another candidate, you can always ask how you can make yourself a better fit before applying next time. This will help you learn exactly what you need to do and how you can improve your skills and become a better candidate.

Why is the art director so important?

Why is the art director so important?

An art director is responsible for managing the visual aspect of the campaign. Now be it for advertising, eCommerce product photography, or something else.

When you become an Art Director you’ll have to ensure that everything aligns with the strategy and helps in achieving the desired output throughout the campaign.

As an Art Director, you manage other creative people like photographers, content creators, models, photo editors, designers, etc, and coordinate the whole team to get the work done on time and effectively.

Creative Director Vs Art Director – What’s the difference?

Creative Director Vs Art Director - What's the difference?

The roles of Creative Director and Art Director are very different from each other. But due to being in the same category of work, people often tend to get confused between them.

A creative director is a person who understands the requirements of the client or the project, studies the customer, and comes up with a strategy. Creative Director manages the whole campaign, with the messaging, the theme, the text, and everything that will help the campaign achieve its goal.

An Art Director, on the other hand, will ensure that the visuals are aligning with what the creative director wanted. If you become an art director, you’ll be responsible for turning the overall concept of the campaign into reality.

In simple words, a creative director will know what message to write, and an art director will know what style should be used.

If you are joining a small team, chances are you’ll be responsible for both strategizing and executing the strategy as an art director. But if the organization is big and 8handles multiple projects at a time, the responsibilities will be divided.

Average Art Directors Salary

According to, as of January 27, 2022, the average Art Director Salary in the USA is $127,411. It ranges between $107,714 and $151,867 and is highly influenced dependent on various factors like skills, certificates, experience, organization, and more.

In addition to that, becoming an Art Director now is a great choice as it is still a growing field and with expansion in the marketing and advertising industry, there are a lot of new job opportunities around the globe.

Bonus Read

And with that, you know exactly how to become an art director. And you can see, it is a role that will require creativity and people skills regularly. Becoming an art director is great for many reasons.

First, it keeps your creative juices flowing, and second, your work makes a huge difference for the organization and the project. But does this mean you will have to do all the things by yourself?

Well, certainly not. You’ll be doing this with a team. With a growing workload, you’ll have to outsource your work to experts in order to get effective results. In the case of eCommerce, it is product photo editing.

You need all your images to be consistent and according to your own specifications. That’s when PixelPhant can help you.

PixelPhant is a leading professional product photo editing service that works with art directors and creative directors across the globe to deliver a high-quality image editing service.

Want to enhance your product photography portfolio? Get a free trial of PixelPhant product photo editing service by clicking on the Get started button below 👇.

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