“Art Direction is the intersection where Artistic Skill & Design meet Strategy”
My primary concern when providing good creative direction is making sure the art direction & design approaches always support the client’s vision. A good Director doesn’t direct the creative, but directs what is being created.
Regardless of what discipline an Art Director comes from, an important responsibility of the role is to value quality equally across all involved disciplines. If an Art Director whose background is in design only values design but doesn’t understand development well enough to know if the developer is doing a good job, that’s poor creative direction. Great Art Directors understand each portion of what’s being created and can push every member of the team to produce the utmost quality, quite often beyond what the creatives thought they were capable of themselves. The best Directors know not only whats required of those that report to them, but can perform to the highest levels at those same jobs themselves.
If an Art Director whose background as an Artist is mediocre, then how can they be expected to understand how to properly direct the creatives that report to them to a level they personally cannot reach themselves? Too often companies hire Art Directors that can’t draw, or are mediocre artists at best. You cannot expect excellence when your dealing with mediocrity. An Art Director has lots of responsibilities, like mentoring, growing teams, seeing a vision through for each project, establishing a positive culture, and more. While those are important traits of good leaders, they are also required traits of any good Art Director. A great Art Director should have the answer to everything, because it’s what you hire them for. When working on a project with an Art Director, that’s the expectation you should have of them—to make well-informed decisions amongst tough choices. On projects where I’m the Art Director, that’s exactly what I provide.