What is art direction?

Art Direction and Design - Differences Between Them

So let me give you a description of "Art Direction":

What is Art Direction?

Art direction is the route taken for a particular visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. Art direction creates depth and humanity to the overall design which is usually overseen by an art director who manages the development of artwork or layouts on a particular project.

This means that art direction is much more than a unique design for an individual product. The goal is to combine visual imagery and language to enhance the meaning of the story, which may see a meaningful variation in design and not a change for the sake of change. In the example of a magazine, art direction will look at different ways to enhance a story, from choosing the design style, selecting related content features, and honing the story’s tone of voice.

Art direction brings clarity and definition to design work, to ensure that it portrays a specific message to a particular group of people to arouse a particular reaction or emotion that connects the viewer with what they are seeing and experiencing. It influences movies, music, websites, magazines and almost anything we interact with.


Difference between Art Direction and Design

The design is the process of imagining and planning the creation of physical objects or abstract systems that address a need or offer a solution to a problem so that the user interacts more naturally and completely with the environment. The design is such a broad concept that it can mean different things in different genres from product design, virtual reality, home interiors, car design and more.

The design has some elements from the arts, in that it creates something that expresses the author’s vision, ideas and feelings, though this is not the primary purpose of design. At the same time design takes on the problem-solving aspect of science, so the object does the job it has been created to do.

Great design is when the user does not notice its presence, particularly in navigating a user interface, which should feel natural and unhindered. The user should be able to understand its rules and the meaning of its elements almost immediately. The user is guided by an invisible hand made of colours, shapes, contrast, repetitions.

Simply put, the design is the “how” and art direction is the “why”, and usually the two go hand-in-hand, in that designers can do art direction and art directors also design, that's why we usually see them working together in the design studios. Art direction helps the design by acting as a filter for the choices made so they can be checked against the ideal. It is extremely helpful when struggling with design decisions within the constraints of the brief. Art directors do not have to be designers but must be able to understand it well enough to direct the designers and should be the ultimate arbiter of art and design. Whilst the design may look good; an art director will be able to gauge if the “feel,” matches rather than compromises the message. Art direction is seen to work in practice when the story and the design support each other and allow the concept to shine through and engages our imagination. This is why the two most common fields for an art director to be employed are advertising and editorial design. In each case, good design is vital, but the art direction encompasses everything.

How Art Design Advances Opportunity

Thanks to clever art design we now have cars that are beautiful to drive as well as to look at, we are now able to live in close proximity to others in accommodation built to purpose, with smart gadgets to keep our lives simple whether we live in towns, cities or villages. Designs have also allowed us to show objects of beauty in the form of luxury designed gifts, from everything such as a bottle of perfume to a piece of technology or software.

The design has brought together the arts and sciences to create something new. When art designers apply their principles to innovation, the success rate has been shown to improve. Some of the biggest companies are design-led and their results over the last decade have surpassed many others. These companies include Apple, Coca-Cola, IBM, Nike and Whirlpool. This is because great design is more appealing and desirable.


Design thinking

Such has been the success of design led companies that the ethos of design has evolved beyond making objects, as organisations want to think like designers, applying design principles to strategic development and organizational change. This means that firms become engaged in continuously redesigning their business to create improvements in how things are managed, led, created and innovated for a competitive edge.

You do not have to be a designer to think like one. Thinking like a designer, or ‘design thinking’ can be applied not just to making objects look good, but to systems, procedures, protocols, and customer/user experiences, to improve the quality of life for people and the planet. The design is not just what something looks like and feels like, but how something works. Design thinking is solution focused, drawing upon logic, imagination, intuition and systemic reasoning to create desired outcomes that benefit the customer, whether it’s the next version of the iPhone or a new kitchen tap design.

While training and practicing becoming a good designer takes many years, all individuals can think like a designer when considering ways to lead, manage, create and innovate. Design begins with setting a strategic intention. When a strategy is being mapped out, that is designing.