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A Day in the Life: Art Director

8:00 a.m.: Meet with creative director, copywriter, and graphic designer to review layouts for a presentation we’re giving next week to a pharma client. We’re almost there, but some of the images need to be changed. And legal needs to verify disclaimers and footnotes in copy.  

9:00 a.m.: Sketch out some ideas for a logo we’re working up for a new brand. I like to draw before getting on Illustrator. Freehand drawing often generates some really good, creative ideas. 

10:00 a.m.: Meet with new client, account executive, and copywriter to discuss the creative and marketing goals for their campaign. The client wants to reach a younger demographic. We talk about the various ways that can be done, and give examples of the other products we’ve successfully repositioned to the marketplace.

11:30 a.m.: Weekly creative department meeting. We share the status of our projects. Discuss challenges regarding the work for a client who has too many people giving various, conflicting directions. Things are getting dicey because the budget won’t allow us to spend too much more time reworking the creative. We decide to set a meeting with the account team to clarify direction and raise awareness of the budget and production schedule constraints.

12:30 p.m.: Settle down to some creative work—designing pages for a hotel brochure. Using InDesign for this one. 

2:00 p.m.: Meet with the interns—we have two to three students who work with us over the summer for school credit—to review their work, answer questions, give guidance, and assign them a mock presentation.

2:30 p.m.: Review another client’s brand guidelines that they revised recently. They merged with another company and made some changes to the rules on how to use their logos, taglines, etc. Will have to review with the designers and copywriters before we start on the next campaign, to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

3:30 p.m.: Photoshoot, in our studio. Happy not to have to travel anywhere today except to the 10th floor. I work with the photographer to direct the models. Have to watch my step: he’s excellent, and has a great eye, but doesn’t always like being art directed. I choose my words carefully to make sure we get the best results and everyone’s happy. We review the camera angles, the lighting in the studio and the setup, and the client’s main focus. We’re shooting images for a new shampoo, and will use the photos in magazine ads and online. We’re in fast turnaround on this. I’ll look at the digital images in a day or two and choose the ones that are most suitable to send to the client.

5:30 p.m.: Interview junior art director candidate. Found out last week that our current one accepted a position at an agency in another state. She was good enough to give a month’s notice. The day after we posted the job online, more than 300 resumes came in. Have scheduled six interviews so far with the people who stood out from the rest—good design work and thought behind it, and solid work backgrounds.

7:00 p.m.: Head out to Art Directors Club for panel discussion about using advertising and design to spark social and political change.