The Conversation Starter

Contributed by Patty Clark
Advertising can often be filled with industry lingo and terminology. If the differences between an art director and designer have ever confused you, here is a quick explanation of their differences.

While the definitions of an art director and designer will vary from agency to agency, there are a few basic differences between the two.

Many use the term art director to define any designer that also has advertising experience. Here at PPBH, we have art directors, designers and production designers, and differentiate between all three within an advertising context.

Chuck Penna, founding partner of the company, says all art directors need to be excellent designers first. Designers are experts at making something look good. They understand what white space, composition or designing within a grid mean.

Art directors usually have more experience. They not only make things look good, they design according to a strategy. They are concerned with the messaging and concept. They also often guide designers to help them accomplish the art director’s vision.

Eric Larson, senior art director at PPBH, says a designer concentrates on how something looks, while an art director concentrates on what something says visually.

How do you differentiate between art directors and designers?

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  • Julene Thompson
    Julene Thompson 8 months ago Reply

    Great topic

  • Traci 8 months ago Reply

    I can only differentiate between PPBH’s Art Directors and Designers and other firm’s. PPBH’s entire creative team is BRILLIANT!

  • Samuel 7 months ago Reply

    I totally agree.

    Art direction is just a process of design, that comes with maturity, experience, and knowledge.

    People just like to mystify it and add status so they can think they are something apart, different, and you can’t separate them because, where is devision there is comparison and, consequently, conflict.

  • Ruhi 3 months ago Reply

    It never occurred to me that there is such huge difference between art director and art designer as I though both are the almost same thing. Thanks for clearing the misunderstanding through this wonderful article.

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