Art jobs in advertising (also called visual communications) are plentiful, but competitive. If you work well under deadlines, come up with fast ideas and able to work long hours, then this may be your profession. The majority of advertising jobs in the United States are in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. You can also find many in smaller cities such as Pittsburgh, Phoenix, and Houston. Although a college degree is not required for most advertising creative jobs, it can help. Many students who graduate from art schools across the nation with associates degrees land successful careers.
Recruiters say the key to being a good candidate is to have a great portfolio. This portfolio should include a variety of layouts, thumbnail ideas, and if appropriate, storyboards. Most candidates have created their own websites to advertise themselves. Portfolios are digitized by scanning and/or pictures with a digital camera. If you have some experience, include printed samples. The candidate should also demonstrate a proficiency with the computer. Currently, the computer of choice for advertising creatives is the Macintosh with the Wintel platform growing in popularity. Programs you should be proficient in include Photoshop, Fireworks, Illustrator and/or Freehand, InDesign, Corel Draw, Flash, and Dreamweaver (You can buy most of these at the Amazon Adobe page). A strong knowledge of type faces and production is also helpful.
A company's logo is very important and can give the company personality. This Hook's Drug Store logo is no longer in use as the stores are now called CVS.
Frequently art directors and designers use stock photography for their campaigns to save money. For example, you may need photos of the Eiffel Tower and the Egyptian Pyramids. The cost for a creative team to go to these countries for photo shoots would be very high. Stock photo companies, like the one above, save thousands.
Artists in advertising agencies design packages, magazine advertisements, billboards, brochures, newsletters, television commercials and direct mail. Art and Creative Directors contact vendors such as photographers, printshops, illustrators, and many others to assist with a campaign. Campaigns can range from a simple newspaper advertisement to a major multi-million dollar campaign.
Only the best applicants land their first job in a well known advertising firm such as Leo Burnett, J. Walter Thompson, or DDB Needham. Getting some experience in high school and at an art school or college is one way to get a leg-up on other applicants. Printed samples of your work speak volumes more than marker or computer layouts of imaginary products.
Direct Response (Direct Advertising)
This involves the design of direct mail, e-mail, print, and interactive. Direct marketers create targeted e-mail newsletters, snail mail, and packaging. Everything is designed to encourage people to open their mailers and e-mail. A great rate of return for sales is between 3-5%. Because of this, direct marketers create thousands of mailers and e-mails to get a larger return. Companies will invest in e-mail and mailing lists to target their audiences. A mailing list can make or break a campaign.
Retail involves newspaper ads, catalogs, and inserts. A designer will sketch out the layout for the ad, select the fonts for the ad, and illustrate or insert photographs. Retail advertising centers around deadlines. The hours are long and the pressure intense. Decades ago, most retail advertising was markered or watercolored (see image at left). Today almost 100% of the advertising is done with photography. Models are utilized for fashion and design.
This was non-existent 15 years ago. Today you will find banner advertising on most websites. Some are simple word ads from Google and others are ads that take you to a companies website. Artists will design the banners to animate and more recently expand when the mouse is hovered over the ad. A banner artist will need to know Flash, XML, Photoshop, Illustrator and other programs. Two of the largest companies to use banner advertising are Google and Amazon. Google will place the ads according to key words or advertiser preference. Most browsers block pop-up advertising, but new scripts overcome these and now ads are once again popping up or expanding. An ad not only has to be attractive, but get everyone's attention and encourage them to click on the ad. Google will pay content providers anywhere from 4¢ to $50 per click. Most are in the 4¢ to 8¢ range. Companies will also pay Google to place their ads. They also pay per click.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average salary for a creative director is $108,260. This person is in charge of the creative portion of accounts. They must work carefully in a budget. After brainstorming in a creative session, the creative director will usually create fast thumbnail sketches and then pass them off to the art director for more careful rendering. Frequently the creative director also does some copywriting, but usually limited to slogans or headlines. Throughout all stages of the creative process, the project must be approved by the creative director who also works closely with the account executive and client. This person is usually present during crucial stages of a project such as a photo shoot or printing. Strong computer skills are needed for this position. A good illustration of a creative director is found in the movie Nothing in Common with Tom Hanks playing a creative director.
(Salary range: $34,471 - $88,265)
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average salary for an art director is $80,630. According to PayScale.com, the average salary for an art director in advertising ranges from $34,471 - $88,265. However, according to CareerBuilder, the national average is $100,122. in New York. This person also works within a budget. In smaller agencies they also manage some accounts. This person takes conceptual ideas from the creative director and puts them into a finished layout. Once the ideas are approved they also work closely with production to see the project through completion. Occasionally this person meets with clients and attends photo shoots and printing sessions. In larger agencies they have assistants who they delegate work to. For more information see this detailed page.
This person assists the art director. Work that can't be done by the art director due to time constraints or isn't "appropriate" to an art director is delegated to the assistant. Sometimes this position is an entry level position, but usually the gopher job is entry level in large agencies. Strong computer skills are needed for this position. Software includes Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash, Quark, and Contribute.
(Salary range: $15,000 - $80,000)
This person does a variety of work ranging from quick
illustration, keyline, rendering layouts, creating stats, and design.
Strong computer skills are needed for this position. Software includes
Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash, Quark, and Contribute. Some artists are production artists. According to payscale.com production artists make a range of $25,973 - $65,817.
(Go for this and go for that) (Salary range: $10,000 - $25,000)
In some agencies, this is an unpaid internship. This person usually does the jobs that no one else wants to do. The job is entry level and offers opportunities for advancement and to meet many people. Job duties range from delivery/pick-up, creating stats, clean-up, ordering supplies, taking inventory, and rendering if you're lucky. At my former agency, the
gopher later became the creative director. This illustrates the opportunity for advancement that this job has. Strong computer skills are helpful for this position.
(Salary range: $29,809 - $78,801)
This person usually acquires quotes from vendors on jobs. Once a competitive price is found, they work closely with printers and other vendors to assure quality in production. They also coordinate the flow of work in the agency and between vendors. Strong computer skills are needed for this position. Frequently production managers manage the printing process at printing companies.
(Salary range: $21,127 - $44,794)
Assists the production coordinator.
the same work but usually delegated work that the coordinator doesn't
have time for. Strong computer skills are needed for this position.
Production Artist/Multimedia Artists
(Salary range: $26,598 - $67,550)
Multimedia artists create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other media. They create two- and three-dimensional models and animation. Although most multimedia artists are self-employed, some work for the motion picture and video industry. They often work long hours, especially when deadlines are approaching.
(Salary range: Hourly fee or quote)
This person is a self-employed person frequently hired by agencies during a crunch. They do jobs that may range from illustration, design, and art direction.
(Salary range: $34,000 - $80,000)
This person may be a freelancer. In large agencies, they hire an illustrator full-time to save money. This person creates illustrations for ads, TV, brochures, etc., using a variety of media including the computer.
(Salary range: $22,323 - $81,094)
This is a deadline-heavy job. The hours are long and frequently run into the weekend. Storyboards are created for music videos and commercials for the screen or TV. They range in resolution from quick renderings to marker layouts and computer comps. This job has a high turnover rate but offers quick, easy cash and opportunities for other jobs. Sometimes multimedia artists do storyboards.
(Salary range: $22,323 - $81,094)
Creates ads using a variety of media from pencil, markers and computers. These ads have already been designed by an art director. In many studios and agencies, these duties are now carried out by multimedia artists.
(Salary range: $25,000 - $100,000)
This person oversees production in media. They may attend photo shoots, create PR campaigns, slide shows, video presentations, etc.
Business-to-Business: Like the name says, you're selling from one business to another business. Also called Trade Advertising. An example of this would be point-of-sale displays, package design, medical, etc. Retail: This is really deadline oriented. It may consist of designing newspaper ads, B&W watercolor figure rendering for clothing ads, inserts in stores, etc. Billboard: If you like working large, then this is for you. Design billboards you see along the highway. Consumer: You are creating ads for consumer products such as Kelloggs, General Mills, Nabisco, etc. Typically these companies pay the most for advertising.
There are literally thousands of advertising agencies and we don't have the room to list them here. We suggest using the links above or visiting major search engines on the internet to find what you are looking for.
Creative Directory with a list of agencies, design studios, audio visual, computer, media, production, photography, illustration and post production.
The Art Directors Club -connecting creative visual communications professionals from around the world.