Last year, I started documenting weekly conversations with one of my young art directors. She was an extremely talented artist on the verge of being a great creative lead. She sought guidance on how to lead. Advice for Young Art Directors is what came out of those conversations. For the sake of these posts, we’ll call her “Priscilla”.

Priscilla came to me because she hated giving feedback to the team that may make them hate her. I understand this reluctance. Like Priscilla, I came through the ranks of design production and empathized with the plight of the production artist—the ever-shifting changes, the monotonous details and going back and re-doing what the creative lead already told me to do. The reality is, after seeing the creative executed, sometimes it doesn’t work and it needs to be crafted a bit more.

My advice to Priscilla: Be prepared for people to hate you for doing more work because of a creative-driven decision. Art Directors need to follow what the think and feel are the right decisions for the client and for the end user. And if this means making the production artist spend another 20% of their time getting it right, then so be it. It’s better than presenting something to the client that you know isn’t quite right and then burning another round of revisions.

It isn’t easy. As a manager, it’s unavoidable. But it’s for the good of the project. If anything couch the undesirable request in a light that explains the reason for the additional work. Turn it into a learning moment that you’re both part of.


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