Creative directors normally work on advertising and branding campaigns through a range of mediums such as film, digital, animation and apps. They sometimes work on product, packaging and location design. They lead a team comprising art directors, copywriters and designers, who execute the projects they conceive.
In this article:
- The day-to-day
- Key skills
- Relevant experience
- Career opportunities
The day-to-day role of a creative director typically involves:
Developing concepts for advertising or promotional campaigns
Pitching ideas to clients if working for an agency or present to directors if working in-house
Negotiating with clients to amend ideas in line with their wishes and explain what is and is not possible
Keeping clients abreast of progress and answering their questions.
Storyboarding or translating ideas to the creative team of art directors and designers
Leading multiple projects from conception to completion in accordance with deadlines
Evaluating and, if necessary altering, the content of projects before completion
Hiring, developing and managing the creative team
Ensuring all the organisation’s or client’s visuals are consistent with the overall brand
Steering or writing scripts
Overseeing photo or TV shoots
Select external suppliers when necessary
Sign off projects before they are presented to the client
Creativity skills: First and foremost creative directors must be good at creating concepts for others to work on. They must have a keen awareness of current trends in advertising and graphic design.
Communication and presentation skills: They need excellent communication (written and verbal) and confident presentation skills in order to pitch ideas to clients or directors and also explain their ideas to members of their creative team.
Interpersonal skills: Excellent interpersonal skills are a must. They need a clear creative vision while remaining open to others’ ideas.
Leadership skills: Creative directors need leadership skills in order to hire, develop and oversee their creative team.
Digital and graphic design skills: Extensive knowledge of graphic design and relevant software is vital. Familiarity with film-making techniques is very useful. Video editing, copywriting and HTML skills are usually needed.
- You get to make a big impact: As a creative director your innovative work could change history, influence the news and create a new outlook or vision. This is a hugely rewarding aspect of the role.
- Very competitive salary: Creative directors can earn in excess of £100k.
Flexible working: Being truly creative involves being able to work from different locations to inspire new ideas, and to have enough headspace to think creatively. Creative directors can typically have a good work/life balance with the opportunity to work from home or from other remotes spaces outside the main office.
An undergraduate degree in graphic design, fine arts, visual communication, typography or a related subject is often required. A postgraduate degree in these subjects can be an advantage.
Between four and seven years’ experience working in the advertising, marketing or design sectors. Especially in smaller firms, creative directors are often promoted from art director, designer or copywriter positions. Supervisory experience, including leadership, team-building and delegation, is an advantage because creative directors have to manage a creative team.
The average salary for a creative director can range from £40,000 - £110,000 per annum depending on place of work and years of experience.
Regular office hours of 9am to 6pm but creative directors are expected to attend evening functions and launches as well as work longer hours as project deadlines approach. Creative directors spend a lot of time away from their office at meetings. A willingness to travel is assumed and creative directors will be a frequent presence at networking events, industry trade shows and exhibitions.
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