How to Become an Art Editor

students at art

The general layout of the front cover of a magazine or newspaper can make a difference in attracting more readers. Hence, publishing and print media firms hire art editors to oversee the task of ensuring photographs, charts, illustrations, maps and words are presented in a way that is compelling and easy to read. If you are looking for a profession that enables you to work in a creative environment where each day brings a new challenge, art editing can be a perfect choice.

What do art editors do?

The tasks of art editors can vary by size of the publishing firm. For example, art editors working in large media firms with several publications lead a team of designers and visual journalists, with an overall responsibility of ensuring consistency in product layout and design. On the other hand, those at small publishing houses are often the sole employees in charge of art editing. Nonetheless, the common duties of art editors include:

  • Using computer software to design magazine covers and ensure they look distinctive from competing brands
  • Discussing design issues with managing editors, especially regarding use of controversial images
  • Assigning duties to photographers and illustrators
  • Managing the finances allocated to the art department
  • Attending industry conferences and seminars to stay abreast of trends in magazine design and style

Education and training

Unlike most professions that require advanced training, art editing is a product of talent and creativity. Therefore, if you can prove your creativity to potential employers, you can get the job without any educational qualifications. However, the rise of digital magazines has made it essential for art editors to pursue first degrees majoring in;

  • Fine Art
  • Multimedia and Visual Communication
  • Sequential Imaging and Illustration
  • Animation and Art Design

The best schools to pursue an art course include;

  • University of the Arts, London
  • Shillington College, Reading
  • Shillington College, Lincoln
  • Glyndwr University, Wrexham

Most employers offer on-the-job training opportunities to help new art editors to make the more efficient in their work. Others provide sponsorships to professional training courses and workshops.

Important skills

To become an effective art editor you will need;

  • Creative skills to develop captivating designs on a daily basis
  • Strong IT skills to work with several computer applications
  • Good time management skills to beat deadlines
  • Team-working skills to collaborate with team members
  • An intricate understanding of the publishing industry

Salary prospects

Although the salaries of editors usually vary by employer, the average annual wages are as tabulated;


Potential Annual Wage

Trainee Art Editors


Experienced Art Editors

£25,00 - £32,000+

Senior Art Editors


Source: National Careers Service

Top employers

  • Local and national newspapers
  • News agencies
  • Books and journal publishers

Work Environment

Art editors typically work in an office environment from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, they can work late into the evening when there are tight deadlines to be met. Those who manage photo shoots may travel frequently.

Getting on

Most art editors who advance their careers move into managerial positions where they become managing editors, art directors, production editors, or publicity managers. These positions require vast work knowledge and increased competence, which can be obtained by;

  • Pursuing a Master’s degree in graphics design or a related field
  • Joining a professional association, such as the Charted Society of Designers, Design and Art Directors Association or National Society for Education in Art and Design.

With electronic magazines and Internet-based publications gaining popularity by the day, prospective art editors can expect the industry to create numerous employment opportunities. Your task is to nurture your creative ability and develop essential art editing skills.