How To Become A Professional Art Director: According To Experts

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A never-ending nightmare. Chaos in the streets. Cats and dogs living together… Why is that? Because an AD doesn’t just pull together the vision of what a project should look like…they also get everyone on board to row in the same direction. Like a film director, they’re the keeper of the vision. They take a roughmd- hewn idea and mold it into the final product—be it a beer la w commercial, a promo website, or a full magazine spread. jdsh Naturally, such an important gig takes a fair amount of skill w w w and experience. And when organizations go looking for a director, they can be more than a little picky.

Study your craft

Any professional position that becomes sufficiently important and well-respected will eventually attract a crowd. As a result of that crowd, things get…competitive. Art Direction is no exception. On the one hand, it’s a growing field, with bright prospects for new graduates. On the other, the best available positions have become coveted—and the gatekeepers that do the hiring have come to expect a certain level of ability from their new creatives. As a result, the expectation has come to be that any rising Art Director has studied the art and theory. It’s assumed that their new employers won’t necessarily be forced to do much training on the job. In their eyes, that’s what school and internships are for (we’ll talk more about interning in a minute). Is this to say that formal education is an absolute necessity for a would-be AD? Of course not. There are still those who can make their way alone, as there are in many fields. There are also, notably, those who train in another creative field (say design or copywriting) and then pivot to directing later on. Both are valid paths…but can be somewhat risky. Not least because you’ll inevitably be competing with young guns who

Student Anaya Reyes interns for MAD

Student Anaya Reyes interns for MAD

Intern (work experience)

How do you learn to build a table? How do you complete a marathon? In either case, it helps to read the best information available. You can find out what all the world’s experts have ever said about the endeavour at hand. But… When you’re standing there with the hammer in your hand. When you’re pacing at the starting line… You’ll want to have been there before. You’ll only know if you’re ready for the big time if you’ve practiced it all a million times. And that’s what an internship is. A real internship (not a half- summer gig in the coffee corps of an insurance company). Art Directors, in particular, will benefit from some on-the-job training. Your first serious project can be a serious kick in the pants (as well as as a serious thrill). There’s simply no way to replicate the high-speed, high-pressure exhilaration of a full- scale shoot or a rush to the deadline. You have to be there. That’s the only way to learn.

Passion projects

OK, you’re in school. You’re working as hard as you can on whatever projects your instructors can throw your way. In a perfect world, you’ve got a nice internship set up as well, coming up as soon as the semester ends.
Pretty good…but it’s not enough. Seriously. It’s great—but you’re still missing a critical piece.

You still need to discover your voice. And there’s one way to do that beyond anything else: self-driven projects.
Student Anaya Reyes interns for MAD

Student Anaya Reyes interns for MAD

Intern (work experience)

How do you learn to build a table? How do you complete a marathon? In either case, it helps to read the best information available. You can find out what all the world’s experts have ever said about the endeavour at hand. But… jsdkadsh ksnjckjksjnd When you’re standing there with the hammer in your hand. When you’re pacing at the starting line… ssnkksdsdssdd ndb You’ll want to have been there before. You’ll only know if you’re ready for the big time if you’ve practiced it all a million times. And that’s what an internship is. A real internship (not a half-

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