version 3, draft 3

How To Become An Advertising Art Director

Advertising Art Directors (known as creatives in industry parlance) are responsible for the design of the visual concepts for advertising campaigns. If you have a creative imagination and a talent for art and design, this could be your ideal career.

As well as artistic flair, you also need to have good communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team. The ability to work under pressure and to deadlines is also important.

The job

An Advertising Art Director works as part of a team with a copywriter who supplies the copy to accompany the visual images you create. Every project begins with a briefing about each new client, their product, their target audience and the message the advert is desired to deliver. You would usually work on several projects simultaneously.

You duties would include:

  • Working with the copywriter to create concepts in line with the client’s brief
  • Putting together story boards or sketches of your ideas
  • Presenting your concepts to the creative director and account team
  • Assisting in presenting ideas to the client
  • Effecting any changes required
  • Working with designers, photographers, artists or film companies to produce the TV ads or artwork
  • Ensuring that deadlines and budgets are observed
  • Overseeing the editing of the finished advertisements

Working hours and conditions

You would work a standard Monday to Friday working week although your hours may be longer than 9am to 5pm in order to meet deadlines.

Much of your time would be spent working in the agency’s offices, although you would also be required to travel to visit filming locations, clients’ offices or production studios.


Starting salary:

£18,000 to £25,000 per annum

With more experience:

£25,000 to £50,000 per annum

Senior Advertising Art Director

Up to £100,000 per annum

Skills, interests and qualities

As a successful Advertising Art Director you would have the following skills and qualities:

  • Imagination and creativity
  • Design and artistic skills including photography and printing
  • Good communication and team-work skills
  • Computer literacy
  • An eye for detail
  • The ability to take criticism of your work and to cope with strict deadlines
  • Keen business acumen and budget awareness

Entry requirements

Most Advertising Art Directors have a BTEC, HND or degree level qualification in graphic design, illustration, fine art or advertising design.  You can find out if you might be suited to a career in advertising by visiting the Diagonal Thinking website.

Work experience is a very useful way of getting a foot in the door in the advertising industry.  This not only gets you in front of prospective employers, but also helps you to make valuable industry contacts. 

It’s also a good idea to contact agencies directly as many offer graduate placements. Check out the Work Experience section of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) website for more information. 

You will need a portfolio of your work (known as a book in the industry) to showcase your ideas and artwork to potential employers. D&AD has plenty of helpful information about development programmes, building a portfolio and making advertising industry contacts. Have a look at their website for more details. 

Training and development

If you join a larger advertising agency, you might be trained through a graduate scheme; otherwise you would begin your career as a junior and develop your skills as you work under the supervision of more senior creatives.  

There are professional development opportunities available and you should avail yourself of these throughout your career. The IPA and D&AD websites have more details and information about what’s available.

Job opportunities

Any career in advertising is very popular with graduates and competition for jobs is fierce. Most of the opportunities are with agencies based in London or other major UK cities so you should be prepared to relocate depending on where you find a job.

Vacancies are advertised in the trade and national press, at IPA Jobs Online and via specialist recruitment agencies. It’s also worth approaching agencies directly as not all positions are advertised.

As you gain experience, you could decide to progress to a more senior position as a director or you could become self-employed and work freelance.

More useful information and job vacancies can be found at the following websites: (Campaign) (Creative Review) (Marketing Week) (Media Guardian) (Major Players) (Adforum)


Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'





Get our FREE eBook!
'6 Steps to Landing Your Next Job'

G up arrow
</script> </script>