By Nsim Team
There is no set path for becoming a creative director; every great creative director has found his or her own individual path for getting into the role. In most cases however, you’ll launch your career from a hands-on creative position such as copywriter or designer, and work your way up from there. It helps if you have a degree in an area such as graphic design, fine arts, marketing, management or communications.
Whichever path you end up taking to start your career, you’ll need, among other skills and abilities, strong creative vision and the ability to lead and inspire others in order to succeed.
Creative directors are big-picture people, managing teams across multiple accounts with an inspiring 'book' or portfolio of work
Creative directors are the creative leads at advertising agencies or in-house for the marketing department of a company. They work with the creative team to create, plan and deliver a strategic vision for clients.
In this role you'll be involved in planning advertising, supervising the entire creative process and guiding the team that works under you. The creative team includes art directors, copywriters and designers.
This is a senior role for creative thinkers and proven leaders. The role carries fast-track promotion, international opportunities and a salary to match.
There is no specific education needed to become a creative director in general, and requirements may vary from job to job. Many employers however, prefer to hire creative directors with knowledge of marketing techniques as well as knowledge of art and graphic design.
A bachelor's or master’s degree in marketing, communications, fine arts or graphic design can serve as an excellent foundation for a career as a creative director, as it can allow you to gain skills, knowledge and competencies in these areas.
As this is often considered a senior-level career, employers prefer to hire candidates with at least 5 years of relevant work experience in addition to their degree. In many cases, the more education you have (provided it’s directly relevant), the less experience employers will require you have, and vice versa.
If you want to become a creative director, it is fundamentally necessary to have a strong creative vision and the ability to lead and inspire others to execute that vision. You will need skills and knowledge in areas such as marketing, advertising, digital media, art design, visual communication and graphic design. You don’t have to be the world’s foremost expert in all of these areas however. You will likely have to be an expert in some of these areas, and have good working knowledge of the others.
When employers look to hire creative directors, they know that every aspiring creative director brings something different to the table. For example, some may be stronger in management, others in creative vision; there are talented people all along the continuum. Regardless of their areas of strength, successful creative directors have most, if not all, of the following skills:
Art and Design Skills: Creative directors must be able to come up with campaign concepts and design briefs, as well as design and work with software such as Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver and other software.
Marketing, Communication and Advertising Skills: A good creative director must be able to make emotional connections with the consumer. They do so by paying attention to social and cultural trends, and absorbing subtle shifts in these trends, ultimately building on these influences to create work that feels both new and relevant.
Management and Leaderships Skills: A good creative director can look dispassionately at their work and throw away bad ideas, putting project first and ego second. They must be able to direct the workflow of team members and third party contractors, such as design studios. In addition to leading these individuals, a good creative director can inspire them.
Creative directors are typically employed on a full-time, permanent basis, and may work for a wide variety of organizations, ranging from advertising agencies to theatre companies. The following types of organizations generally hire creative directors, or positions of similar responsibility with different titles:
• Dance and theatre companies
• Television and film production companies
• Advertising and marketing agencies and consultancies
• Management consultancies
• Visual design companies
• Software companies
• Newspaper, periodical, book, and website publishers
• Public relations and communications departments of large organizations
• Public relations and communications firms and consultancies