Specifically, art directors make decisions about whether to use art or photography
in print and film or animation in television and what type of artistic style to use.
They are trained in graphic design, including art, photography, typography, the
use of color, and computer design software.
Although art directors generally design the ad, they rarely create the finished art.
If they need an illustration, they hire an artist. Newspaper and Web advertising
visuals are often clip artorclick art, images from collections of copyright-free art
that anyone who buys the clip-art service can use.
In addition to advertising, art directors may also be involved in designing a brand
or corporate logo, as well as merchandising materials, store or corporate office
interiors, and other aspects of a brand’s visual presentation, such as shopping
bags, delivery trucks, and uniforms. A graphic designer explains in this chapter’s
Inside Story feature how she views the working environment of graphic designers.
The Designer’s Toolkit
One of the most difficult problems that art directors and those who work on the
creative side of advertising face is to transform a concept into words and pictures.
During the brainstorming process, both copywriters and art directors are engaged
in visualization, which means they are imagining what the finished ad might look
The art director, however, is responsible for translating the Big Idea into a visual
story. To do this, the art director relies upon a toolkit that consists of illustrations
or animation, photos or film shots, color, type, design principles, layout (print),
and composition (photography, video, or film) among other visual elements.
Illustrations and Photos
When art directors use the word “art,” they usually mean photographs and
illustrations, each of which serves different purposes in ads. Photography has an
authenticity and credibility that make it powerful, since most people believe that
pictures don’t lie (even though they can be altered.)
The decision to use a photograph or an illustration is usually determined by the
advertising strategy and its need for either realism or fanciful images. Generally, a
photograph is more realistic and an illustration is more fanciful. Illustrations, by
definition, eliminate many of the details in a photograph, which can make it easier
to understand since what remains are the “highlights” of the image. This ease of
perception can simplify the visual message because it can also focus attention on
key details of the image. Illustrations also use artistic techniques to intensify
meanings and moods, making illustrations ideal for fantasy.
It is also possible to manipulate a photograph and turn it into art, a technique that
brought recognition to Andy Warhol, among others. These practices have become