As one of the more lucrative fields in the United States, a career as an art director has been growing in popularity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for this role in 2016 was just short of $93,000. Also, there were as many as 90,000 art directors across the nation. Such numbers make it clear that the sector is becoming quite favorable and the true growth has yet to take place. So, what are some of the most important characteristics that prospective art directors will need to develop?
Persistence and Dedication
One of the most important traits that every person who is aspiring for this position should have is dedication. Since becoming an art director requires a few promotions and a good amount of professional experience, one will have to spend some time building their reputation and knowledge. After obtaining the necessary skills and technical abilities, they will eventually become eligible to hold the said leadership position. To make it that far, however, it is crucial that one has enough dedication to overcome the never-ending challenges and adversity along the way.
Also, persistence is an accompanying skill that gets developed alongside dedication. The difference between the two mostly relates to the timelines in which they function. Someone who has outstanding persistence will be able to pursue short-term projects and ensure that they are completed in a timely and effective manner. Those who are dedicated will be able to stay behind their long-term objectives and pursue the dream vision of attaining the art director status. Regardless of their differences, both of these are necessary to succeed.
Creativity and Confidence
Anyone working in the field of arts has to possess a high dose of creativity and confidence. The reason why these two go together is that confidence is what permits one to display their creativity. Lacking self-esteem will make it much less likely that the person reaches their full potential as they struggle with self-criticism. Unlike most other skills on the list, creativity is one of the few that cannot be taught. While there are many strategies to help someone boost their imagination, being creative is a talent that people are usually born with.
Contrary to the popular belief, art directors spend the vast majority of their time working with others. Sometimes, this includes clients who are negotiating a project and trying to convey their ideas. There is usually also a lot of communication taking place between the director and the artists themselves. To ensure that no issues are arising due to misunderstandings, developing professional communication skills is crucial. Luckily, learning how to express oneself is often an essential part of a future art director’s college education. Not to mention that it is a skill that gets better with practice. That means that experience will facilitate more efficient communication that, according to Forbes, is an elemental part of overall leadership.
Financial knowledge is plausibly the most overlooked skill that every art director has to possess. This is because many people who do not work in this market fail to realize the number of budgeting responsibilities that these professionals carry. For example, the vast majority of pricing, long-term spending plans, and cash flow analyses are handled by art directors. Given that they are the ones who help overview the company’s operations from one of the high-leadership roles, they have the broadest perspective. Thus, they can properly execute their budgets and ensure that the company is staying within the limits of forecasted expenditures and cash inflows.
While the number of administrative duties handled by art directors is quite high, they still have a fair amount of hands-on work. For instance, they are usually the first on the scene to communicate with clients who want to begin a new project. Based on their ability to perceive ideas, subordinate artists are instructed to fulfill those projects. To ensure that clients keep coming back and that the demand remains strong, one has to have some unorthodox originality. In translation, they must possess the ability to take a seemingly simple idea and turn it into a masterpiece distinguished by uniqueness. Not to mention that art directors work directly with artists who often require mentorship to reach their full potential. So, knowing how to inspire creativity in others will determine the longevity of one’s career as well as the success of their enterprise.
Organization and Multi-Tasking
As said, art directors have to deal with a plethora of high-level responsibilities that include management of subordinates, long-term planning, company growth strategies, and similar. Since these types of duties are extremely time consuming and often overlap, they need to be able to work in a fast-paced, deadline-oriented environment effectively. One way to do so is to develop excellent organization and multi-tasking skills. Fortunately, the experience will allow these talents to flourish as trial and error is the best way to master them.
Flexibility That Facilitates Learning and Growth
It is not uncommon for art directors to find themselves in situations where they may not hold the answer or know the right course of action. After all, they face various scenarios that require specialized solutions almost every day. What matters is that they know how to continuously learn and improve themselves to a point where they can overcome practically anything. So, they must possess enough flexibility to learn from others and acknowledge when they may not be up to par with their technical knowledge. That flexibility will play a crucial role in their non-stop learning and professional growth that facilitates better leadership.
Some other skills that are worthy of mention combine strategic thinking, attention to detail, and proficiency with information systems. Most of those, however, are usually prioritized in the early stages of the career or educational institutions that these professionals attend. Hence why the seven categories mentioned above are ordinarily the most prominent characteristics and common denominators of prosperous art directors.