The look and feel of design & art direction
I began my career as a graphic designer and art director more than 12 years ago. I enjoyed the level of detail, artistry and technical skill that came along with being a designer, but I quickly realized that my true love was bigger than design.
I loved to think. I loved coming up with the idea and the strategy behind the design. I loved identifying the emotion and the tone of the concept. I loved art direction.
And what exactly is the difference between art direction and design?
Art direction is the “feel” of an idea. It is creating a visual and experiential connection between the audience and a particular piece of work. A print campaign, an outdoor board, a television commercial, a website — the art director is responsible for making sure all of the pieces within a campaign convey the same emotion and visual cues that relate the campaign back to its core message. Art direction drives the design.
Design is the “look” of an idea. It is executing the idea in a way that deepens the connection established by the art direction. Color, typeface, hierarchy, grid-structure — the designer works with the art director to establish the design elements that convey the emotion of the original idea. Design is the precision and the technique that brings art direction to life.
Art direction and design have a symbiotic relationship. They have equally important roles that rely on each other to create and to execute ideas. I’ve always found that the designer will bring out subtle nuances and details in a piece in a way the art director may not find. And an art director will look at a design and see ways of enhancing the overall piece a designer may not see.
When the art director and the designer work together, creative forces play in harmony-and form, most likely, follows function.
Feature image: Dodos | Dan Stiles