For the average human being, the color green is, well, the color green. For art directors it’s a completely different ballgame. It’s lime green. Or emerald green. Or olive green with 10% more cyan for attitude. Art directors sweat all the other details that most don’t think about. They live for craft. It’s not just about making things look pretty – art directors must be strategic and conceptual. Working hand-in-hand with copywriters, art directors will brainstorm big ideas then go to work to bring them to life, whether through print, digital, outdoor, “made you look” non-traditional ideas and everything in between. A few tools of the trade are an exceptional understanding of color, layout, typography, and the occasional exacto-knife. You’ll also be well-versed in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, but bring those Sharpies and sketch pads, too. An art director just isn’t an art director without a hand full of Sharpies. These are just some of the reasons our reputation in creative industries is unparalleled & why we have a 100% placement rate for Art Direction.
The Creative Circus Art Direction curriculum is based on real-world practices. Course work is broken down into three basic areas of study – strategy, concept and execution. To work in the communication arts industry, an Art Director must show proficiency in all three areas. Strategy is the beginning of the creative process. In strategy classes, the student will get a firm understanding of branding, media integration and writing creative briefs.
Before an Art Director can begin thinking about a final portfolio, he or she must also master the fundamental skills required for visual communication. Typography, color theory, image creation and design principles, along with mastery of the Art Director’s primary tool – the computer – are all part of the process. And since Art Directors share responsibility for every project with their creative partner, early classes are offered in the basics of copywriting.
Once the fundamentals of strategy, creativity and design are learned, the art direction student applies these skills in the concept classes, the core of our curriculum, which is taught at all levels. In these classes the Art Director is teamed with a Copywriter to develop ideas for speculative real-world assignments. Once the creative team comes up with a concept based on a sound strategy, the execution is reviewed and refined in layout classes.
Here’s a small sample of the classes you’ll take as an Art Director.
Introduction to type as symbols, individual letter forms, shape and space.
Intro to Graphic Design
Develop a basic understanding of design principles and vocabulary for creative visual thinking.
Introduction to Art Direction
Via layout exercises and lecture, students learn basic principles of art direction and visual storytelling by working with various design and copy elements. Students learn basic production practices. Overview on the Art Director’s role in a team and agency environment.
Builds on lessons from Type 1 with projects that address the sentence, the paragraph(s), the page and grids.
Introduction to Creative Teams
Introduces the student to the basic work structure in which he or she will work through the remainder of both school and professional careers. Teamed with a partner, the student will be exposed to the techniques of joint brainstorming, concept development and execution of ideas through “thumbnails” or “comps.”
Copywriting for Art Directors
Introduces the Art Director to basic and best copywriting practices via writing exercises that focus on all aspects of advertising copy, including headlines, taglines and body copy.
Color Theory for Art Directors
This class begins the exploration of color as a foundation of design; exercises and projects apply color theory to specific and diverse creative problems with varied media and dimension.
Students learn that a logo is a simple visual representation (a symbol!) of a brand and it’s personality – and it’s not as easy as it looks, even in black-and-white. Brands vary, some deadlines are weekly, others longer, but the clarity and development of the idea is most important – not the execution.
Students from varied disciplines come together as a team to concept and develop an extension of an existing brand in an effort to enhance the client’s opportunities for revenue. The deliverables cross all media and dimension.
This course will utilize both in-class and out-of-class exercises to help the student brand themselves, develop marketing materials, as well as ask the student to do uniquely focused agency research.
To graduate from The Creative Circus, an Art Director’s final portfolio must show proficiency in strategic thinking, conceptual interpretation, and creative execution. The work in the portfolio should also show a range of creative solutions, audiences, types of media, and voices. Prior to graduation, every student creates a personal identity package, a résumé, and a website.
During the final quarter, students meet with the Director of Career Services to discuss career goals and objectives. Graduating Art Directors also work with an industry professional on personal presentation skills that will benefit them during interviews or presentations to a client. Graduates have access to our alumni listings, agency contacts, portfolio reviews and direct personal assistance from the Director of Career Services, whose services alumni can continue to use the throughout their career. *Department of Education Program Disclosure
Department Head, Art Direction
Jen is one of those elusive and rare species – an Atlanta native, through and through. After graduating from The Creative Circus in 2001, she worked for over a decade as an Art Director at stints with BBDO, Arnold Worldwide and The Martin Agency, on brands such as Cingular Wireless (now AT&T), Volkswagen, Royal Caribbean, McDonalds, Geico, Burt’s Bees and Wal-Mart. Jen adores teaching and mentoring, and has been a part of the Circus family since 2001. In addition to her duties as Art Direction Department Head, she also runs her own design, branding and luxe paper goods business, Miss Pickles Press. She believes in mixing Target jeans with a Michael Kors handbag. She usually has iced coffee in hand. She knows you catch more flies with honey, and that one is never too technologically advanced for handwritten thank you notes.
Jen is married to an overgrown boy scout software engineer from Rhode Island, and you can often find them traveling the backroads in the Airstream they share with their 4-legged wunderpup, Gussie.
Please don’t call her Mrs. Magoo. Seriously.
Department Head, Advertising
Dan has been in the ad business since 1987. And he has been a copywriter since 1990, with a decade in New York agencies both big and small. In addition to his duties as a full-time instructor and department head at The Creative Circus, Dan is a freelance creative director, podcaster, strategist, father, husband and blogger who’s never short of opinions. Check out his blog DGMS: A podcast about advertising.