How to Set Yourself Apart Series: Art Director

Monday, February 12th, 2024

How to Set Yourself Apart Series: Art Director

An art director has the same responsibilities as a senior designer plus the added challenge of communicating with clients and giving presentations. It’s not as straightforward as graphic design (complex as graphic design may be)!

So how can you set yourself apart as an art director?

Find Your Unique Value Proposition

The first things you’ll need to set yourself apart as an art director are two of the skills you’ve likely already developed for yourself as a senior graphic designer: communication and the ability to sell a product or service. Naturally, presenting things well also requires an innate ability to design things in an aesthetically pleasing way, too. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Can I tell clear stories in a way that resonates with the audience?
  • Can I work well with multiple forms of media?
  • Do I have awesome problem-solving skills?
  • Do I have a knack for brand leadership?
  • Am I adept at multiple forms of media?
  • Can I lead a team well?

Consider Adding Technology to Your Service

As an art director, chances are that you’re already using Adobe Suite as the main piece of technology for your work. 

That said, there are a few other things you can look into:

  • WhatsApp or other communication platforms. (Slack, Discord, Google Suite, etc.) Client and team communication is extremely important, and staying connected through workflow tech is a great way to communicate.
  • YouTube tutorials/Google/other courses. Learning is an important part of honing and sharpening your skills. You can do that a variety of ways – some of them free!
  • Astropad. Some illustrators swear by Astropad – it gives you the ability to mirror your computer screen to your iPhone or iPad. Since there’s a lot of crossover between art director and illustrator, we thought it worth a mention.
  • CodePen. This is a social development community for code editors and web developers – but it’s also a useful tool for art directors to make prototypes!
  • Frame.io. If your work as an art director involves video, frame.io is a helpful resource. It makes it easier to see and understand what changes are needed during the post-production (editing) process. 
  • Grammarly. If you’re adding written copy to any of your presentations, it’s important to keep it as clear as possible. Grammarly can help spot potential mistakes. 
  • Mapbox. If you’re doing on-location shoots as an art director, Mapbox can be a huge help. It enables users to visualize geographical information.
  • Procreate. The Procreate app is great for illustration, sketching ideas, and adding hand-drawn details – indispensable for art directors!
  • Sketch. UI designers swear by Sketch. It enables idea visualization and design updates in a quick and easy way. 

Upskill As Much As You Can

While not everyone understands the daily labor that goes into being an art director, it’s important to show that you are well-versed in multiple areas and have any skills that your potential employer may require. 

Some great skills to add to your resume include: 

  • Creative vision. Are you able to see where a brand pivot or project is headed and how it will turn out, long before the first deliverables have arrived? That’s exactly the kind of vision an art director needs to deliver results.
  • Project management. There are a variety of skills and certifications that can show off your project management skills, so pick one that fits well into your existing schedule to learn. This skill can show that you will be able to manage people as you assemble projects and have the know-how to keep everything on track.
  • Graphic design. This is a great skill to have both so you can give better direction to designers on your team and so you can fill in for people in a pinch. 
  • Communication. From clients to your team to company leadership, it’s important to be able to get your message across.
  • Photography. Do you know what it takes to get that just-right shot? Learning about photography, like graphic design, can help you communicate your ideas better as well as being able to fill in when needed.

Make Saying “Yes” to You Easy

What gets clients excited to work with you? How do you make a lasting impression?

Here are some ways you can ensure that you are easy and fun to work with:

  • Send a little gift to a client once they sign on with you. Some great options include a branded notebook, some snacks, or a gift card to a nearby coffee shop.
  • Create some extra deliverables. While you don’t want to spend too much time on projects that aren’t your core goal, throwing in a few extra sizes of a graphic for various social platforms or adding a few bonus product photos to the album can be a great way to stand out and show that you want to add value.
  • Stay on top of communication. While replies within the minute may not be in the cards, it’s a good idea to respond as quickly as possible to client messages during the business day to ensure that their concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
  • Share reviews from past clients. Your past clients know how awesome you are – let them tell your next potential client about it! You may want to consider including reviews from past clients in your cover letter or online portfolio.

Get Project Help Matcha Design in Oklahoma

As a business owner, you’re used to leading teams – but sometimes you need to call in a bit of extra help with projects. If that’s you, it wouldn’t hurt to get an award-winning team on your side! Contact us for help with your next project.

About Matcha Design

Matcha Design is a full-service creative B2B agency with decades of experience executing its client’s visions. The award-winning company specializes in web design, logo design, branding, marketing campaign, print, UX/UI, video production, commercial photography, advertising, and more. Matcha Design upholds the highest personal standards for excellence and can see things from a unique perspective due to its multicultural background.  The company consistently delivers custom, high-quality, innovative solutions to its clients using technical savvy and endless creativity. For more information, visit MatchaDesign.com.

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