With the fast-paced world that we now live in the lines have been completely dissolved of any perceived value that a true art director can bring to any situation.

There are, and should be, three levels of design in a studio.

The Role of the Art Director

In advertising and public relations, Art Directors ensure that their client’s desired message and image is 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.

The Role of the Graphic Designer

Graphic Designers create visual concepts, by hand or using computer software, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

The Role of the Finished Artist 

The Finished Artist role is about taking elements from multiple sources, such as clients, image libraries, creative Graphic Designers or Art Directors, laying it out on a page with appealing typefaces and images utilizing a variety of layout techniques. The finished artist is often more technical than creative.

The Three Levels of Design Involving the Art Director and Graphic Designer

These three levels of design are clearly indicated to show their strengths.

  1. The Art Director sets the path for the “look and feel” of the project. They create the vision, image style and choose the freelance talent, which involves the photographer, stylist, prop stylist, chef, artist, illustrator, and/or anything that they feel is needed for the project. 
  2. The Graphic Designer implements the concept, fleshing out the art directors vision. They layout the project, brochure, report or document as instructed by the art director. 
  3. The Finished Artist is a detail guru. They are often called the typesetter as well. As they are super-honed at their craft of laying out text, long documents and aligning type and images to the nth degree. 

Reflecting On My Role As An Art Director and Graphic Designer

Here in Australia, we have had to be “the jack of all trades” as there simply hasn’t been the big budgets, especially in the publishing world. More and more in this fast-changing world we need to adapt to what the market is wanting, as the pace increases, more and more I feel the need to take things slower. The stop this desire to “do everything” and just hone in on the things that I am really good at.

I started my journey handcrafting type, drawing, painting and sketching up ideas. We were trained to create detailed roughs (illustrations) with markers to portray an idea or concept to the creative managers. From here photo shoots were organised, and typeset galleys were made. Putting together the magazines in those early days required paste-up with carefully scalping small letters and words to assemble pages, and tracing images to scale. I would spend hours in there when I first started my career, tracing up sizes of an image so it was just so very perfect for the space on the page.

Of course, like many other aligned career pathways, the need to continue to upskill as we travel along our journey has asked me to upgrade my skillset on the computer each time. But in doing this, a lot seems to have been missed. And for me, the actual ideation of the idea, the first initial spark, is the one that gives me great joy. Working with the editors to formulate an idea, and then realise it on the page is what gives me great joy to realise and see an idea unfold.

Upgrading Creative Skills In The Digital World Of Design

I still have an absolute love of the crafting of publications, books and magazines are still my great love, but the need to adapt in an ever-changing market place sees me upskilling again, to learn new programs specific for interior design that I will be undertaking at the Sydney Design School in a diploma of Interior Design, (part-time) The programs I will be learning include CAD, Revit, SketchUp and other 3D modelling programs. My hope is that those original craft skills that I learnt will come in handy when I am sketching up those initial interior idea concepts, and be able to translate onto the digital page.

The Philsophy Of The Pace Of The Art Director and Graphic Designer Is Changing

I realise and appreciate that in many ways life has sped up, and we cannot stop things going that way. But it is a choice as to whether we just accept this, or try to do something about it. My aim in what I am doing now is to try and slow people down, even just a little. As I do really feel that they are missing out on the good stuff. Taking time to do things really well, rather than speeding up to a finish line. Really getting into every element of a task. I know this is a luxury in a lot of ways, but I feel that when we step back, even just a little, we create a bit more space to flow.

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