What Copywriters and Art Directors Do
Advertising and marketing are vast fields, with many different types of professionals working toward the common goal of building and promoting a brand. Amid this field are two specific types of advertising creatives, known as copywriters and art directors. They work with teams to gain a better understanding of what the organization’s marketing and branding goals are, then come up with unique ways to present the concepts to consumers and target customers.
Naturally, copywriters create the words and slogans associated with advertising messages, while art directors focus on creating eye-catching designs. Oftentimes, these marketing creatives pair up on a project to ensure the words and images flow into a cohesive message consumers respond to. Their work is seen on websites, brochures, ads, and other forms of media.
Who would enjoy a career in Creative Advertising?
Naturally, having an inborn inclination toward creative works is a good stepping stone, and having passion for creating unique concepts is important too. However, the best advertising creatives also have some kind of additional training in marketing and/or consumer psychology, and they must be fluid with technology too.
Across the board, advertising creatives do best when they’re team players and know how to collaborate and communicate effectively. Quality copywriters tend to have a background in English or creative writing, whereas art directors usually have some form of design training as well.
Who mightn't like the career?
A lot of creatives personally invest themselves in their projects, to the point where any critique of the work is hard to take. Moreover, even perfectly good concepts can be rejected, simply because upper management has an alternate idea they wish to pursue. For these reasons, having a thick skin is important; the career isn’t ideal for those who can’t take feedback and apply it to a project.
Because best practices in marketing and trends are always changing, it may not be a good field for those who aren’t committed to continuously developing new skills and concepts. Lastly, finding a single good, long-term employer is difficult for advertising creatives unless one finds consistent employment in a advertising agency. Many move between jobs and projects frequently, so it’s not a good career for someone who can only thrive in a stable environment.
Most advertising creatives have at least a bachelor’s degree related to their area of expertise. As one progresses into management, having a business degree and leadership skills is expected. Common degree titles include Marketing, Advertising, Business, Mass Communications, Psychology and Journalism.
Advertising creatives are often judged based on their portfolio of work, rather than through a traditional resume. For this reason, it’s important for copywriters and art directors to build up a solid portfolio to show to prospective employers and clients. It’s also a good idea to research the organization in advance and identify its marketing goals, branding messages, and audience ahead of time whenever possible.
- Copywriter Interview Questions
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- 9 Tips for Landing Your First Job at an Advertising Agency
Moving into Creative Advertising from another career
There are countless paths into a career as an advertising creative. Provided one has the skills and the portfolio to prove his strengths, anyone can make the transition. Moreover, moving into a career as a copywriter or art director can be an incredibly smooth transition when staying within the same sector. For example, someone who worked as a paralegal may do well creating ads for lawyers, while a nurse could be a medical copywriter. For more information, see “How to Shift to an Artistic Career in Midlife.”
Role: Copywriters work hand-in-hand with art directors, as well as a variety of other advertising specialists. They listen to the marketing team’s goals for content, and then create compelling copy to accompany art. Some agencies offer junior and senior copywriter roles, and those who wish to develop their careers beyond copywriting often move into creative director roles.
Role: Art directors work with copywriters and other advertising specialists to create eye-catching media. They may design storyboards for TV ads, create layouts for print ads, or sketch out ideas. They often present their ideas to the advertising firm and clients, and may oversee entire projects. Like copywriting, most firms offer junior and senior art director roles, and those who want to advance their careers further tend to move into creative director positions.
Role: Creative directors oversee the creation of advertisements. They develop brand-appropriate concepts that are in line with the marketing team’s goals. They also manage all creative staff, including copywriters, editors, graphic designers, and art directors, and may handle everything from planning to budgeting.
Advertising creatives rarely travel for work, though their skills enable them to work almost anywhere they choose.
Entry-Level (0-5 years): Data from PayScale indicates that base salaries average USD $43,680 in the United States, ₤21,600, in the United Kingdom, CAD$41,830, in Canada, and AU$54,150 in Australia.
Mid-Career (5-10 years): USD$55,200, £30,000, and CAD$51,230, and AU$59,280.
Late-Career (10-20 years): USD$69,120, £32,400, and CAD$51,230, and AU$66,690.
Experienced (20+ years): USD$69,120, £36,960, and CAD$80,370, and AU$66,690.
Entry-Level (0-5 years): USD$51,000, £30,000, and CAD$49,000, and AU$62,900.
Mid-Career (5-10 years): USD$63,000, £38,000, and CAD$63,000, and AU$70,300.
Late-Career (10-20 years): USD$72,000, £41,000, and CAD$65,000, and AU$81,400.
Experienced (20+ years): USD$70,000, £48,000, and CAD$62,000, and AU$82,140.
Entry-Level (0-5 years): USD$54,000, £35,000, and CAD$51,000, and AU$74,000.
Mid-Career (5-10 years): USD$79,000, £46,000, and CAD$72,000, and AU$89,000.
Late-Career (10-20 years): USD$101,000, £54,000, and CAD$83,000, and AU$110,000.
Experienced (20+ years): USD$106,000, £57,000, and CAD$98,000, and AU$136,000.
Profit sharing, commission, and bonuses can sometimes increase the pay of advertising creatives by 5-10%.
Why Copywriters and Art Directors move on
People who get into advertising creative roles usually do so because they have creative talent and want a job where they can utilize it on a daily basis. Although they have this opportunity, working beneath someone or following the direction of others can feel creatively stifling.
As such, many creatives move on to entrepreneurship or freelancing. The insecure nature of the advertising industry also causes some to leave for more stable and dependable work, while the managerial demands of senior positions can take the enjoyment out of the career for many creatives.
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