Art Direction & Design

So you think you want to be an art director? Maybe you devoured comic books as a kid, sucked in by the beautifully drawn graphics, poring over the pages not so much for the story, but for the wonderful artwork. You look at things in our visual world and ask, “Why’d they make it that way?” telling yourself you could do better.

Everywhere you look, you notice the little things, like typeface choices in advertisements, opening credits and films. You delight in discovering hidden symbols in clever logo design. You often judge books by their cover. You concern yourself with color theory when you match your indigo blue jeans with your perfectly faded tangerine-colored vintage concert t-shirt before you dash out to face the day. You later doodle a really cool tiger wearing sunglasses on said pair of jeans with a ballpoint pen while having a conversation with your academic advisor.

You know you’re a different sort. Design matters to you. You know it has the power to influence, change minds, organize and make our drab little planet a happier place on which to dwell. Perhaps most importantly, you only use Comic Sans ironically.

Students who identify with these thoughts will find themselves at home in the art direction interest area of strategic communication. Through the area’s focused coursework, students will learn to think strategically and visually. They will hone their design skills as they are taught how to take an original idea from concept to completion. Students also will learn to collaborate with or lead a team effectively. In the process, they will develop a professional portfolio or “book,” which is the passport into the creative side of the communication business.

Within that business, they can expect varied design opportunities. They will create graphics, layouts, animations and a multitude of visual solutions for print, digital and video mediums. Designers often are tasked with composing advertisements, directing photoshoots, storyboarding commercials, developing logos, building brands, creating packaging, designing websites, and developing user interface and experience.

Skill sets valued in art direction and design

  • Strong technical skills in design software
    (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator)
  • Imagination
  • Creativity
  • Versatility
  • Mental dexterity
  • Clever wit
  • Non-conformity
  • Fearless thinking
  • Divergent thinking
  • Strategic thinking

Careers in art direction and design

Recommended elective coursework

Alumni profiles