My top tips for Art Direction

I’ve been an Art Director for over 11 months now, which means I’m in a position whereby I can pass on my deep and profound knowledge of the subject. So I thought, since you asked, I’d indulge you all in what I consider to be the golden rules when it comes to making work look prettier and stuff.

  • If something looks not very nice, make it look nicer

This is essential. Absolutely essential. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tricky one to start with but that’s because it’s one of the most fundamental guidelines for being a top 40% Art Director, which we’re all trying to be at the end of the day. 

It’s the sort of thing that can’t be taught, but I’ll teach you how I do it. When I look at some work I’ve created, I take a step back, close my eyes, take several deep breaths, then immediately open my eyes and shout at the work, as if to make it jump. Seeing the work spooked as such gives me a new perspective on it. If after that I think the work looks not nice, I tell myself that I will make it look more nice. This will feel weird at first, but you’ll eventually get the hang of it.

  • Give your copywriter more autonomy

Believe it or not they aren’t just there to write the words. Luckily for me, my copywriter has quite an astute eye and is always suggesting great visual ideas to me (not that I’d ever tell him that). But if your copywriter isn’t as naturally visual as this, it can be taught. Try training their eye with some simple picture books. This will teach them to tell a story through the images, not their words. For instance, buy a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and cover up the words, then get them to read the story back to you. You’ll be amazed to see the results.

  • If in doubt, let AI do it

Now, there’s a lot of fear at the moment about AI and whether it’ll put us out of the job. The answer? No it won’t, dummy. It’s not a real person. But you can learn to harness its power. It will then become your best friend. Do you fear it, make love to it. It makes our jobs way easier. For instance, if I’m struggling to draw a pretty cat, I can simply summon one using AI. Gone are the days when I’d have to show my work to someone and they’d slate me for the shabby drawing of a cat. Phew.

  • Take longer than you need on everything

Don’t tell the writers this one, but if you’re ever feeling like you need to take it easy for a bit, act like you’re working on a really tricky bit of Art Direction, huff and puff a lot, moan about Adobe, all that jazz. Your copywriter, having finished his words or whatever he does, will feel guilty that you have more to do than him and will make you tea and stuff. It’s brill.

That’s all for now folks. But don’t be afraid to ask me questions if you found these tips helpful.


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