Art Direction and the Web

by Stephen Hay

41 Reader Comments

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  1. >> Robert said:
    >>>>Our company has recently laid off its high priced art and creative directors because they realized the strongest concepts were coming from its junior and senior designers.

    >> and then apartness said
    >> … Or because they were downsizing and firing senior people to make the firm appear more profitable.

    Point 1: Or even worse…your company is run by someone who doesn’t understand the importance of idea generation or value of a good concept – I won’t pick on anyone in particular, but there’s an acronym that comes to mind. They work something like this:
    : the job is for x amount of dollars
    : your billing rate is y
    : you have z hours to poop this out so we can be profitable.

    To toss out the idea that you’d like to spend time “thinking” about this to come up with a memorable concept instead of just making it look pretty and getting it done is just shy of kicking them in the whoo-haas. And god bless you if you can generate a good (maybe great) concept AND execute it (yes, do the design part as well) in z hours (which is usually not more than 1 work day).

    I’m not in any way suggesting that profitability is bad, it’s not. The problem is that when a company is so focused on profitability that it’s creative suffers, they’re shooting themselves in the foot. They’re not building a strong portfolio. They’re not proving themselves worthy to take on “the big jobs” because everything they do lacks substance. It doesn’t show the larger companies (yes, with the bigger budgets) that they “get it” and therefore your company will never win a larger account…

    Point 2: I touched on this a little in the 86th paragraph above. There are a TON (read: lots) of us out there that work for small shops and are expected to where the hat of creative/art director, designer, user experience expert, html coder, barista, etc. It seems that a lot of the posters here are getting upset by the authors depiction of a designer. You Must Chill! It sounds like you’re all smart enough to figure out that you probably play both parts from time to time (or everyday), whatever. Read the article again and think to yourself, “when I’m directing, I’m creating the concept” and “when I’m designing, I’m choosing the colors, the typeface, etc.”—it’s really okay if you’re doing both of those things. You’re playing both parts. Maybe your resume needs updating because if you’re just calling yourself a designer, you’re really selling yourself short.

    Okay – enough of this – back to watching the Cubs lose.

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  2. Fantastic article – thanks. Personally I’ve always been unware of the differences in roles between an Art Director & Creative Director…

    …perhaps somebody could clear up my abiguity.

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  3. For those looking for concrete material on idea generation, I recomend Edward de Bono. He’s like the YODA on creativity. Amazon is full of his work and what I really enjoy is the pratical way you can apply his techniques.

    I especially recommend “the six thinking caps” & “serious creativity”. Happy reading to you and good luck with the websites.

    six thinking caps

    more books

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  4. Truly a useless article. I come to read an article highlighting the differences between art directors and the riff-raff, and not word one about the proper way to order a skim milk latte? Puhleeeeeze…

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  5. Art Director is just a title, it means a million things, people interpret it differently, there’s no authority dishing out certificates, it’s just words.
    I never know what to call myself, i do music and video as well as graphics, I direct as well as produce, so I just say “artist” or “director” or “designer” or “producer” depending on the person asking. Ironic that I can’t think of a catchy word for it. Art Engineer maybe. But if you say that people say “What?” and think you fix photocopiers or something.
    I am not a 100% artist, I do think my stuff should work, and serve its practical purpose, and the only way to ensure that is to get to know your medium in detail instead of conceptualising with little technical knowledge.
    The main problem is that people think art is optional, that practicality is everything, and it isn’t. Also it is impossible to commoditise, which really annoys the breadheads and makes freelancing a nightmare.

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  6. I’ve heard this word alot when dealing with the idea that a whole is greater than the sum of its parts – gestalt. it’s a fun word!

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  7. I’ll hand her this essay.

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  8. share the text with , umm, her as well!

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  9. Excellent Article. Informative, impressive. That was what I had been waiting for. Keep it up.

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  10. Mr. Hay did an excellent job writing this article. Informative, easily accessible to the layman, and interesting, Mr. Hay is to be commended for his work!

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  11. My design experience is growing

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