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What is a typical career path like in art management?

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I started in the paste-up room. A lot of agencies have paste-u rooms where a group of beginners do the real mechanics of putting the advertisements together. All you really did was spray mount things o pieces of foam board. Our most creative efforts were special projects like birthday cards for executives, things like that. After about three months was promoted and so was almost everyone else.

The average at this point is about two years for each creative person at any one agency. What happens is you get offered a better opportunity as far as accounts to work on. If you've an account that gives you the chance to do the creative work you want to do, it's a green opportunity. You're offered accounts by other agencies that will be exciting and promote your career. And they'll always offer you a little more money.

I started in the paste-up room doing mechanicals, compositions, paste-ups, and lettering, basically an assistant's assistant. For someone right out of school, with no experience, it was a great way to learn how the agency worked, to meet the other people in the agency and to learn just what an art director really does.

Most art directors are always looking for another job. They usually stay two to three years. You don't want to stay anywhere toe long, because as a creative person you start to get stagnant. You're always looking for a new exciting account to work on, because you can only come up with so many creative ideas for one account before you've fizzled out.

Q - What are your main responsibilities?

A - As an art director working in an agency you get an idea of the client's needs from your account executive, who has the client contact An art director and a writer work as a team, so you sit down with the writer and conceptualize the whole thing, and hopefully come up with new idea that's going to solve the problem for the client. Then as an art director you design the advertisement using that idea. Once that's laid out and the client has approved it, I hire a photographer if it was a photograph I have indicated, if it's an illustration, I hire an illustrator. Everything is supervised by the art director. 1 order all the type and pick out the type face, so it all fits my design.

We get a terrific graphic idea or some nice copy. Sometimes the copy comes from the art director, and sometimes it comes from the writer, but I have to put it all together. The art director's job at that point is to draw lp a story board. It has to be approved at different levels of the agency. If t is good enough to go to the client, then the client sees, maybe, three ideas, with one recommendation from the agency. If the client likes it, I start working on film reels. I have to decide what director I want. Usually I select three directors and then send out the story board so they can make an estimate of costs and see how the job would work. After I make the selection, I start the job. I talk with the director about how I would like to see the framing, what the idea of the commercial is, how to cast the talent. Then I get into filming it. The filming should go pretty smoothly if I've done a good job of establishing the preliminaries. After that, I look at "dailies" (all the film that has been shot) with the producer. Then I take the film, which hopefully I love a lot, to an editor, again preselected. With my guidance the editor puts it together, so that everybody is happy. There are finishing stages, and then the whole thing starts all over again. ?

A regular part of my job is reviewing the portfolios of photographers, re-touchers, and illustrators. I'm responsible for hiring people for each job. A TV director is hired from a sample reel. The art director, copywriter, and producer must agree on which director will add the most to the particular commercial being produced.

As work proceeds up through the company, higher levels of management within our organization are involved. The project may start with myself as the art director, but as it becomes more finalized and it indicates an art director working for a manufacturer rather than an advertising agency.

Together with management we prepare the budgets. Our job is to administer the budget am spend it efficiently. The amount of the budget is a result of costing and bidding. We have to know how much work is going to be involved in the project and how much that will cost. We'll tell them what we think th budget should be, and hopefully they will approve that expenditure.

There is a never-ending battle, it's common in every agency that the creative department does not always get along with the account executives. The account executives have to look out for the client's needs, and they have to please the client and try to placate the creative department. They usually want to go the safe way. If the creative team comes up with something a little outrageous, they fight it, because they're afraid to take it to the client.

Some account executives do appreciate the creative side o things. The creative department makes the product. They'll try to sell it and usually they are successful. If not and if the client won't budge, they simply have to come back and tell you all the reasons why the client didn't accept it. Then you do exactly what the client wants. You may not get a lot of creativity in it, but you've solved their problem.

As associate manager of the art package and design section I'm responsible for package and display material for two of our separate divisions, about twenty-five products.

When you are right out of school, no one is going to give you the opportunity to do TV. You might not get into it for five years, and you've got to break down doors to get the chance. As soon as art directors get into TV, they hold onto it. It's too much money to be blowing and there's a lot of responsibility resting on your shoulders. To get a shot at TV, I screamed and yelled a lot. I totally conceptualized the TV spots, and eventually they trusted me.

As an art director you don't even have to recruit photographers and illustrators, they come to you. They haunt you. They all work on a free-lance basis, so they are dying to get in and see any new art director in any agency. They show you their work, and you use your own personal taste as to whether a certain photographer would work for a certain photograph you have in mind. If it's food, there are good food photographers; if it's fashion, there are good fashion photographers. No one photographer can serve all your needs.
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