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The Column icon The Column: Issue 58

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The Column is a monthly feature that explores the world of creativity and aesthetics.

The Creative and Artistic Director

The Creative Director oversees and co-ordinates branding and advertising campaigns from the ground up through to publication. In the performance art world the equivalent role is that of the Artistic Director whose purpose is not about the presentation and branding of a product or service, but about making aesthetic choices and defining the artistic direction of a performance. This column describes these roles and considers their common ground.

The Creative Director

The Creative Director guides the communication output of an organization and is responsible for all aspects of the creative department. The Creative Director manages copywriters, designers, and in addition must work with clients and marketing departments, product managers, higher management, and on occasion computer programmers.

The usual role of the Creative Director is to oversee the design of branding and advertising that promotes their company and/or products and services, and to initiate and stimulate creative ideas for and from everyone involved in the creative process. In more rare cases the Creative Director is also a key member of the design team and contributes to the development of products and services from concept, through to production.

The Creative Director requires a comprehensive understanding of the products and/or services which are to be presented to the target audience, and should also be familiar with the different contexts in which the promotional material will be experienced (print and web media, email, TV etc.). They not only require talent and interpersonal skills as they work with their creative staff, they must also have a great deal of hands-on experience.

Creative Directors are appointed after they have proved themselves in the field and are often promoted within a company after a long career as a designer or copywriter. The Creative Director has strong opinions in matters of taste and presentation, and persuade and assert their views to an often rebellious and independent thinking team through his/her management ability and self-confidence. On average three quarters of a Creative Director's time is devoted to management and non-creative tasks.

The Artistic Director

The Artistic Director is the individual with ultimate artistic control over a company's production, directorial choices, and overall artistic vision. An Artistic Director may be appointed to a dance company, a multimedia project, music video, television or theatre production, and on occasion a movie. S/he may choose the material performed, the hiring of creative and production personnel. S/he may also direct productions for the company in the event the chosen director is unable to complete their duties. S/he is frequently regarded as the artistic representative of the company and the spokesperson for the press.

The Artistic Director should not be confused with the "Art Director", who is generally responsible for the visual look and feel of the creative product, and works with the Copywriter and who has ultimate responsibility for the product's verbal and textual content. The Art Director/Copywriter tandem is overseen by the Creative Director. Art Directors may also oversee a team of junior designers, image developers and production artists.

An Art Director of a movie works directly below the production designer, and above the set designer and set decorator. A large part of their duties include the administrative aspects of the art department. They are responsible for assigning tasks to personnel, keeping track of the art department budget and scheduling, as well as overall quality control. They often also liaise with other departments, especially the construction department.

Common Ground

The Creative and Artistic Director have much in common. Both roles require considerable interpersonal skills and an ability to see the wood for the trees, but perhaps their most crucial quality is the talent to envision the final production in its entirety. The production will have very many elements, be it a promotional campaign or performance. The audience must experience a consistent style and message if they are to be satisfied. The performers, text, image, design, and print media, must serve a clear purpose. It is the responsibility of the Creative and Artistic Director to ensure their team work together so the audience hear a single voice.

Good Creative and Artistic Directors are rare. They not only have an innate creative flair, but are also able to manage their time and people supremely well. The general public have no particular interest in these roles, despite the strength of ego that generally occupies them. The attention of the audience is focused towards the creative product, not with those who create.

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Authors background
Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author. Mike is also the Creative Director of 2BrightSparks, a software company. This column uses information published at Wikipedia which is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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