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Sep 05, 2006


Paul H. Colman

This is almost as good as the kerning thing. Almost.

dan at innocent

Great reply. Thanks for taking the time to have a think, although it seems like you enjoyed the think. I will now go and investigate chiarascuro.


What a wonderful answer. I'd add strategic rigour, conceptual ability, and campaign thinking (in their particular advertising senses) to the list of the Ideal Art Director.

Nathan Miller

That's funny I always thought it was an aging member of an agency on a massive salary with no computer skills, a zany button up shirt undone to the second (or third depending on their silverback ranking) button that shows a bit of chest hair. Granted, I will concede that it must take time to trim said chest hair to an impactful level (not too bushy, not too gay) nestled as it is in some pearl buttoned Paul Smith number.


good golden selection reading:



beeker - I meant 'art direction' specifically as opposed to 'art director'. Which is what I thought Dan was asking.

Hope I got that right.


I'm sure you did get it right. I'd be incapable of the explanation you gave. My comments still stand for my version of agency art direction and art directors though - it's a very specific way of talking about a role, but I do think the best art direction has conceptual depth to it however you talk about it.


You've just opened my eyes to a big mistake I've been making for the last two years since going freelance. My MA in art history from the Courtauld has given me incredible expertise and breadth of knowledge in the very things you mention, but because I assumed it was not directly relevant to many of the built environment jobs I now have, I tend not to reference it to clients etc. How stupid! So thank you - am working with an incredibly gifted web designer and will relaunch my site in November, so I will now work on rewriting or perhpas refocusing some of my "about me" text. Thanks again!!


what is art direction?

art direction is much like an illusion...what u see is may or may not be what you really see.


it must take time to trim said chest hair to an impactful level (not too bushy, not too gay) nestled as it is in some pearl buttoned Paul Smith number.

My name is Kathleen, (crowd responds, "Hi Kathleen) and I trim my chest hairs.
It takes about 6 minutes with full focus.

Art direction is the salvation of small business. Anyone can buy ingredients, but Marthas cakes are different. It is the layering of compenents to interact with the chosen or created environment to emotionly reveal or accent the message through the visual medium.

Move the photos 3 centimetres to the left and the shadow creates dread and foreboding, to the right it becomes visual noise.

The cake made with CAFO safeways eggs cracked cold from the fridge are different from the cake crafted with fresh just laid today organic eggs, that were then stored in a cool place until they are resting at the exact same room temperature as the flour and the butter.

God, I need cake. And better art direction.


Kathleen, this blog needs more people like you.

Chris Grayson, Art Director

Funny how, thought the title has existed for ages, there is still a lot of debate about who/what an Art Director is. You give a good explanation, though I'd add to that Beeker's comment about 'strategic thinking, conceptual, and campaign-ability' as well. Those are often sited as the difference between an Art Director and a Design Director.

Stephen Hay wrote a piece several years ago for 'A List Apart', that I often see sighted when this conversation comes up.


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