Career as an Art Director

Day in the life as an Art Director

Ben Hogan
IT Specialty:
Digital Design, Visual Communications, and Web Design
Job Title:
Art Director
Internet Marketing Company
B.A. in Graphic Design

Q. Do you feel your degree adequately prepared you for your technology career?
A. I feel my degree gave me a thorough knowledge in most graphic and web-based computer programs along with a basic knowledge of the industry.  I was doing freelance graphic design before I got my degree and going to school really helped me clean up my skills.  It was also good for me to take 2 years out of my life to concentrate solely on my design skills and not be distracted by many of life’s pleasures.

Q. Do you have any certifications in addition to your degree?
A. If so, what are they in?   I took a separate Dreamweaver class at Bardo Tech. in Seattle.

Q. Have the extra certifications you've received prepare you for your IT career?  
A. They really helped me on the HTML and programming side of my career which I was lacking in the past. The extra classes I have taken have taught me a lot about the program Adobe Dreamweaver which I use a lot working with my current company.  This program is a great tool for beginners all the way up to advanced web development. 

Q. How many years have you been in the IT field?  
A. I have been doing digital design for almost 10 years using many design programs to create visual communication for print, textiles, and clothing design, and web design.  I have been doing more web development and html programming for the last two years with my current company. 

Q. Have you ever worked in a field outside IT?
A. Before I got more interested in graphic design and web design I used to slide down the hill on a snowboard for a living.  I did this for around 10 years, traveling from mountain to mountain as a marketing pawn for many of my sponsors.  I had a great time and I learned a lot about many aspects of business and life. 

Q. What personality traits and skills do you possess that you feel help you in your specific IT field?
A. It helps to be detail orientated when dealing with bigger sites.  Also, along with being creative you need to be a bit mathematically savvy dealing with pixel dimensions for web layout. 

Q. What steps does someone go through to get a job in this field?  
A. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to have a career without a traditional education.  But first I would research all sections of IT degrees and jobs you would like to pursue.  Then I would research good schools.  I went to The Art Institute of San Diego.  I would look at the quality of the school versus the price you will be paying for your education since tuition prices are on the rise.  Next I would use the school’s resources to find good job references.  Make a good portfolio if possible and use the time getting your education to do as much freelance work on your own time as possible.   Be serious about your education and absorb as much from your teachers as possible.  Stay after and grill them for job experience knowledge. 

Q. What are ways to advance in your field?
A. I feel some education is important, but nothing is better than experience.  Learn your skills on your own and then apply them doing freelance.  I feel you will learn more doing freelance work than in a classroom.  Even get a job at the bottom and if you are driven enough you can easily work your way up to the position you want if you try hard enough.

Q. What is the most enjoyable thing about your job?  
A. The best part of my job is easily being creative.  Starting from scratch and watching it grow into the final product is fun and can be satisfying.  Even if you are coding some ones else's design there is still a sense of accomplishment when you see what you made in action.

Q. What is the biggest challenge regarding your job?  
A. Keeping up with the technology and having to learn new ways to keep up with optimization and coding for browsers.

Q. What are your daily tasks like?
A. Each day is different for me which is a plus in my eyes.  I usually first check with my co-workers and affiliates through email to find out what tasks they will need from me which will usually be images or creatives for one of our many sites.  Next I continue on one of the projects that our company has going which will be a big site or smaller forms that will need to be created and then built.  I will research the demographic of the site traffic first and then I will use many creative programs to get the look of the site figured out.  Once the look is done I will continue to build the site out, sometimes with flash animation, and then I will make most of the other functionalities work.  Sometimes I will pass the site to my co-worker to do more of the technical backend functionality and then the site will go live.  Then I will follow the progress of the site and compare the results with A/B testing.  I also manage and test existing sites and make creative ads and banners for our advertisements.

Q. What skills do you use at work?  
A. I use artistic, research, advertising, organization, technical, multi-tasking, efficiency, priority management skills.

Q. What percentage of your day do you spend working independently or in a group?  
A. Our company employees all work from their homes.  Most projects we work on are started as a group and then we work independently on our areas of expertise.  I would say 90% of my day is spent independently working on projects.

Q. What is one thing you didn't know about your field before getting into it that you wish you had known?  
A. I guess I would have to say that i didn't realize the amount of hours I would be starring into a computer screen.

Q. If you were a person getting ready to choose an IT major for college, what advice/guidance would you give them to help them decide between all the fields?
A. I would say follow what you enjoy doing most.  This part was easy for me.  I would research each major and profession very closely.  Almost all degrees you will need to be detailed and organized.  If you are very technical I would say to veer towards the networking, engineering, and management degrees in the industry.  If you enjoy creating and building things veer more towards the development and creative degrees in the industry. 

Q. If you could give me one quote about the field of Information Technology what would it be?
A. The way our society is evolving, we are becoming more and more dependent on technology and because of that, there is no better industry to be in.