Creative Director vs. Art Director

Popcrn Team

Which does your brand need?

So you have a brand and you are wondering which of these you should hire: a Creative Director or an Art Director? Well, you have come to the right place. This article will explore their differences, roles and if these terms are interchangeable.

Difference between the roles of a Creative and Art Director

The creative director pitches your business offers to your prospects, then handles the execution and follow-through on those offers. Through the entirety of the assignment, from the idea to the development phase and delivery of the finished project, the creative director is involved. Creative directors serve as mentors for employees in their departments. They unify their teams and foster a positive work environment.

The major difference between creative and art direction is in the scope of responsibilities of each role. The art director role marries art and design. By definition, they are solely focused on aesthetics. For instance, in ad agencies, the traditional distinction is that creative directors are behind creative strategies, and oversee art directors and copywriters who create the campaigns that implement those strategies. Art directors, in turn, supervise the services of production designers, photographers and illustrators.

For example, a creative director may request a bolder font to suggest strength; an art director will know the names of the fonts that could suggest the intended quality. When a strategy is approved for a client, the art director executes the ideas for the client. They work on things that a creative director likely wouldn't handle directly. For instance, color choices, fonts, spacing, the appearance of the finished product.

What kinds of projects do the two roles work on?

Creative directors oversee both the creative and the business aspects of a campaign. They build relationships with clients, stakeholders, and strategic partners. They also have an eye for design, media, production, marketing, and branding. They supervise content development and ensure the success of clients. Creative directors must have leadership qualities. This is important because they project the vision to their team members. They also help foster company culture and values.

Art directors are professionals in the skill economy. They provide conceptual ideas and the design skills required per project. Their artistic eye guarantees that campaign creatives are aesthetically pleasing and will grasp the attention of the audience or consumer. They supervise the visual aesthetics of a particular piece of advertising or marketing material, whether it may be illustrations, graphic design, or motion graphics.

Art directors also have team members they manage so leadership qualities are needed here as well. They ensure other members of their team carry out the project as intended. Art directors alongside creative directors guide the whole vision into completion.

Are these terms used interchangeably? (no) and why not?

The terms creative director and art director should not be used as replacements for each other. This is particularly because of the differences in the role they play in any organization. To use the terms interchangeably is to confuse roles. It would be easier if there were personnel that could double as such, but this is rare and ideally is not the case.