The Differences Between Graphic Designers And Art Directors

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Do you know the difference between a graphic designer and an art director? Well, corporate-ladder wise, you might assume that an art director is the higher-up of a graphic designer. In reality, though, they both share generally the same skills!

So, do you want to know the real difference between an art director and a graphic designer? Let’s talk about the job titles, skills, responsibilities, and more:

1. The Job Titles

A graphic designer is an illustrator, graphic artist, and visual merchandiser. While a designer uses many tools like logos, printed artwork, illustrative art, typography and more, a graphic designer puts all of these things together to create a visual idea that uniquely communicates the brand.

On the other hand, art directors are responsible for managing and coordinating the work of all members of a creative team. This includes graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, animators, etc.

2. The Skills

A graphic designer, or a person who identifies with the title of graphic designer, is in charge of creating artwork that is in the form of branding, logos, advertisements, brochures, magazines, etc.

A graphic designer, who is the sole owner of their own company and/or has a small team of one or two, will also handle all of the other aspects of a project, such as the ideation of the creative direction and the hands-on execution.

Meanwhile, an art director is responsible for managing these teams, hiring and directing them, and making sure that the final product meets the clients’ needs. That said, that’s in terms of hierarchy. Skill-wise, some may also be the same as graphic designers.

3. The Responsibilities

Graphic designers are responsible for visually representing a brand’s identity. They are in charge of defining a brand’s visual language and design style and adapting it to the desired medium.

Other responsibilities of a graphic designer include:

Produce consistent, aesthetic graphic design

Develop print and digital communication materials

Propose bold ideas, new concepts, and fresh ways to communicate the brand’s message

Collaborate with fellow designers, other creatives, and clients

On the other hand, art directors carry with them the responsibilities of hiring a team, writing briefs, creating a visual direction and style, overseeing their work, and making sure that their team is delivering the highest quality and aesthetic to their clients.

4. The Salary

The graphic designer’s salary is a great starting point for the art director’s salary. According to Indeed, the average salary ranges from $30,000 to $67,000.

The graphic designer’s salary can be anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000, much depending on the experience and on the work being done. A graphic designer’s salary for a junior can range from $40,000 to $60,000, while an experienced graphic designer can get paid over $80,000.

Art directors, meanwhile, can make anywhere from $25,000 to $90,000, depending on their skills and experience.

Again, these numbers can vary greatly from company to company!


So, what’s the real difference between an art director and a graphic designer? The answer is not much! Both art directors and graphic designers can do similar work, and they’re both responsible for creating visual artwork and ideas. Both also determine the look, feel, and design of a project. The main difference between an art director and a graphic designer is that an art director is usually in charge of a team. In other words, an art director has more responsibility than a graphic designer! 

That being said, if you’re looking for a designer to work with, just remember that these two are more of specialisations than anything. Know what you need and see which position can fulfil your need effectively to maximise your investment!

Fruitbowl Studio is an expert at creating websites that help to streamline and automate business operations for faster and better results! If you are looking for graphic designers in Australia, reach out to us today!

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