Art Direction, Where Art and Words MUST Meet
Here’s the complication in today’s creative in-studio sandwich.
While content is all consuming words carry less weight than visuals mulching together the worlds of copy and design and often pitting these two creative disciplines against one another, instead of in the same corner.
Not to mention that today, copywriters increasingly dare to tread on the ground of the traditional art director, to birth a new breed of art direction.
With such tectonic shifts at play in the discipline, we won’t get political.
Suffice it to say that if you want to shape the future of art direction there are important realities of the role to wrap your head around.
More than just a good eye and a way with words: It takes a combination of having a great eye for art direction, a way with and ear for words, and the discipline to understand the technical details behind Mac’s Makers to bring design to life.
In the words of James Fenton, founder of Blimp Creative: “An art director must appreciate the written content as much as visual, taking on the role of a storyteller, marrying together words and imagery, creating structure and order through layout and typography, providing weight and emphasis which conveys message and meaning, resulting in the ease of the audience’s understanding. You must be a mediator between writers and designers, understanding both disciplines and working closely with each.”
While that’s a lot of words they hold the key to art direction.
As an art director make visuals work hardest: If you are a lover of words, get over the heartbreak. Always visualise the benefits of your campaign message.
But know when headlines work best: David Bell, Executive Creative Director at MercerBell shared that his second best thing to know is: “Straight headlines need twisted pictures … and twisted pictures need straight headlines.” He illustrated them as follows:
Then there is something to be said about creative that veers the viewer to see the point unexpectedly, while colouring within the lines of the Brand Book: Besides good old Pantone parameters, typographical rules tend to be the bedrock that keep your brand compliance honest.
Keep religiously to the kerning, typeface, line width and point size stipulations but push creativity around these non-negotiables.
Always adhere to simplicity and take care with each element with which you choose to tell the story. In Bell’s words, “Crop with care” and words from his high school art teacher: “If it looks right, it is right” which takes us full circle to our first point.
To tread on the quick sand that can be art direction, you have to start with having a great eye for design and an ear for the words.
Of course there’s the dealing with the humans: To become great in art direction you need unspoken respect from designers and copywriters, whose two worlds strangely often do not see eye to eye.
What’s our take on art direction?
To become an art director is a choice in your career focus.
It is as unknown a journey as each person’s personality. It calls for self confidence in creativity, open mindedness and knowing the depth and breadth of creative strength in your studio.
What’s more is that art direction in the world of speed communication tests your ability to harness the talent and experience that you have at hand for multiple briefs, simultaneously. It insists that the art director is able to challenge this talent and build up each team member despite a deadline.
At the same time, art direction calls for you to be the creative conscience. To keep the output authentic to the message.
Otherwise what precisely is the point?