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What does an Assistant Art Director do?

Vicki Hogue-Davies
Vicki Hogue-Davies

Assistant art directors work in various industries, usually under the direction of art directors. Assistant art directors work for magazine and book publishing companies, for advertising agencies and in the art departments of larger corporations and organizations. Assistant art directors also work on theater and stage productions and for movie and film companies. The specific duties that assistant art directors perform depend on the industry in which they work.

Assistant art directors often have graphic design and artistic responsibilities as well as coordination and managerial duties. They sometimes are referred to as junior art directors. Depending on the wishes of the individual art directors, assistant art directors might perform duties that are very similar to those of their bosses, or they might work in role that are more supportive.

An assistant art director might work with photographers.
An assistant art director might work with photographers.

Some of the typical tasks for an assistant art director working in magazine or book publishing might involve laying out the publication using a computer software design tool, resizing and editing photographs and preparing files for the printer. He or she would ensure consistency of design and adherence to the publication's design standards. Depending on the wishes of the art director, the assistant art director might assist in developing the design for the publication.

Assistant art directors for advertising agencies work with art directors and other team members to create advertisements for print, television, the Internet and billboards. They might be involved with client meetings, brainstorming design concepts, laying out advertisements, helping keep track of budgets and more. Assistant art directors might help art directors with ad campaigns or have responsibility for their own campaigns from concept to completion, depending on the size and structure of the agency.

In corporate and organizational creative services departments, an assistant art director might coordinate and keep track of multiple projects from beginning to end. Projects can include brochures, newsletters, web pages, posters and more. He or she also might develop designs for different pieces and have responsibility for production of those pieces, or the assistant might work with the art director to develop designs. The assistant art director also might oversee the work of artists and graphic designers within the organization.

Assistant art directors in the performing arts assist production designers and art directors for stage and film sets. They coordinate with various personnel, such as painters, shop workers, construction coordinators and others to ensure that various aspects of sets are completed. They also are responsible for acquiring materials needed for productions and researching design elements to ensure time period authenticity.

Discussion Comments


@KoiwiGal - To be fair, if you were working on book covers and in magazines, you're basically working on advertising there too. A book cover is a major ad for a book. And advertising might not be as "pure" as working in an art gallery, but in some cases I would still call it art and I don't think it's always souless.

When people really work on an advertising campaign and go for quality over quantity it can actually be really memorable and enjoyable. And if you're lucky you can work on the whole brand, which is pretty fun for an art director.


@croydon - It is difficult to do any kind of art if you aren't a trained professional, but one of the nice things about working assistant art director jobs is that they do work with trained professionals and they are usually a trained professional as well.

So, while I'm sure there are prima donnas in there just like anywhere else, I think if the team knows what they are doing they probably really enjoy their jobs. I know I think it would be really fun to be able to create covers for books or work with a magazine. It would be one of the more practical art director jobs you could get I guess, without being in advertising.

That's the job I don't think I'd like. I'd much rather work in a lovely little gallery or for a random corporations or something like that. Advertising always seems so souless.


I recently had to design a book cover for someone and it is much more difficult than I thought it would be. I don't know if my design looks at all professional either. I can't imagine having to work for a book publishing company and being in charge of this kind of work.

I'd be very happy to be the assistant, I think. Because, not only is it very hard to get something right, you'd also have the author complaining about what they want done as well as the artists complaining about what they want done and the people who need to sell the book complaining about what they want done.

It seems like the kind of job that looks like it would be fun and arty but really would be a bunch of liaising with unhappy people and trying to find a compromise that everyone can agree on.

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    • An assistant art director might work with photographers.
      By: olly
      An assistant art director might work with photographers.