Powerful Geography
Art Directors

Art Directors

Art Directors


Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society

Overview:  Art directors typically oversee the work of other designers and artists who produce images for television, film, live performances, advertisements, or video games. They determine the overall style in which a message is communicated visually to its audience. For each project, they articulate their vision to artists. The artists then create images, such as illustrations, graphics, photographs, or charts and graphs, or design stage and movie sets, according to the art director’s vision. Art directors work with art and design staffs in advertising agencies, public relations firms, or book, magazine, or newspaper publishing to create designs and layouts. They also work with producers and directors of theater, television, or movie productions to oversee set designs. Their work requires them to understand the design elements of projects, inspire other creative workers, and keep projects on budget and on time. Sometimes they are responsible for developing budgets and timelines. The following are some specifics of what art directors do in different industries:

In advertising and public relations, art directors ensure that their clients’ desired message and image are conveyed to consumers. Art directors are responsible for the overall visual aspects of an advertising or media campaign and coordinate the work of other artistic or design staff, such as graphic designers.

In publishing, art directors typically oversee the page layout of catalogs, newspapers, or magazines. They also choose the cover art for books and periodicals. Often, this work includes publications for the Internet, so art directors oversee production of the websites used for publication.

In movie production, art directors collaborate with directors to determine what sets will be needed for the film and what style or look the sets should have. They hire and supervise a staff of assistant art directors or set designers to complete designs.

Geography skills and awareness are critical for art directors.  The advertising messaging, publication layouts, or film production designs that they oversee need to be culturally, socially, and economically sensitive for their target audiences.  Those variables are often tied to, and change with, location.  There are famous examples in cross-cultural advertising, for example, of slogans and designs used by companies that were inappropriate for the target culture, and often meant something completely different than intended by the business.  Geography skills prevent those mishaps by creating awareness of those differences.

Geographers at work:  Business geographer, industrial geographer, cultural geographer, economic geographer, environmental geographers, human geographers

Recommended College Courses:  Business geography, urban geography, economic geography, cultural geography, industrial geography, human geography, physical geography

Skills:  Understanding of economics, finance, markets, human behavior, as well as how artistic messaging is influenced by geography (people and places); critical thinking; teamwork

Occupation Group: Arts and Design

Learn more about Art Directors from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor:  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/art-directors.htm#tab-2

Written by Christopher Anderson


Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions.
Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions.