What’s the difference between a design director and a creative director? Discover the skills and responsibilities for a variety of roles across the creative industries.
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The role of an account director differs from that of an account manager, in that where the account manager will focus on a company's relationships with particular clients through the management of sales and day-to-day customer-facing operations, the account director will have more supervisory, planning and leadership duties. It is their responsibility to advise and coordinate account managers and executive staff, set long and short term company goals and objectives, evaluate and provide feedback for account managers, and maintain communicate within the company, with senior management and with external stakeholders. The role suits someone with a background in business or sales.
Account Manager (Advertising)
With the gift of the gab, exemplary people skills and dazzling organisation, account managers are often the smooth-talking point of contact between an agency and a client. In addition to overseeing a team and the delivery of a project, they will take responsibility for nurturing and developing an overall client relationship, with a keen eye for new opportunities, connections and business. Serving as a font of knowledge for both sides of the work – from budgets and timing to internal resources and personalities – they will have a good handle on whether proposed creative ideas and processes will actually work. This also accounts for their razor-sharp ability to predict and prepare for problems ahead of anyone else.
AI Personality Designer
An AI personality designer’s job is to create experimental interactions between humans and machines. They will often work within or alongside companies specialising in technology, to help make an interactive, AI-based product feel user-friendly and engaging. Think Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home assistant or Microsoft’s personal digital assistant, Cortana. Part of the work may include building in relevant cultural references or personality details such as sarcasm and humour. This field is relatively new, so specific requirements of the role will vary, but often draw on copywriting or journalism skills and a keen interest in emerging technologies.
At first glance, the work of an animator may look effortless. But behind the scenes, the job of making things move is one that requires imagination, patience and a commitment to craft. Spanning an array of processes from traditional hand-drawn animation through to 3D model-making and CGI, animators can work alone or as part of a larger production team to create immersive new worlds and characters for animated films, TV, adverts, games, websites or music videos.
Art Buyer (Advertising)
With a slightly misleading title, the work of an art buyer in advertising is to suggest, source, secure and commission still imagery for commercial usage. This will then be used for print (magazines), OOH (billboard) and beyond. They will collaborate with the creative team within an advertising agency to find just the right artist, illustrator or photographer to create the best visual. Liaising with talent, agents, creatives and sometimes directly with clients, they will share their time between creative development, pre-production, production, and post-production work. Once talent has been commissioned, an art buyer will often be responsible for producing a brief, securing proper rights and clearances, controlling budgets and managing relevant processes – requiring organisation and negotiation skills. With their eyes wide open for great new talent and a wide-ranging knowledge of visual culture, their efforts will help perfectly capture the intended look, feel and message of a campaign.
Art Director (Advertising)
Often (but not always) found working alongside a copywriter as a creative pair, an art director decides how an advertisement should look and feel across many different platforms – whether that be an online campaign, an advert in a magazine or an advertisement in film or on TV. Involved in every stage of the process, from pitching ideas to briefing and directing designers, an art director decides how best to visually communicate an idea, all in service of promoting a brand and engaging with its audience.
Art Director (Design)
An art director works with a client to help come up with an overarching creative concept for a range of creative projects from publications to exhibitions and re-brands to name just a few. They then collaborate with designers to establish an appropriate style or approach that will best visually represent this. This could mean agreeing on a typeface or colour scheme to approving photography or commissioning illustrators – all of which add up to form the look and feel of a project. With good leadership skills and an ability to look at the bigger picture while carefully attending to details, an art director helps guides a team toward a unified vision.
Art Director (Photography)
An art director for photography will work closely with a photographer to get the most out of a shoot, whether that’s for editorial, advertising or artwork. Often working on the project from the very start until the final images have been delivered, their responsibilities might include initial research and developing and finalising ideas, sourcing a team for a shoot, location scouting, casting, before overseeing editing and retouching. While the photographer will more often than not have the final word on aesthetic decisions, the art director will have major influence, keeping the intended purpose and audience for the images in mind at all times.
The role of the artist-illustrator can be seen as a conscious step away from adhering to the desires of a brand or client, and towards developing an individual’s own voice. But in fact, illustrators may find that an artistic practice naturally develops out of their illustration work, with many artist-illustrators producing work both for themselves and for clients. The two roles inform and inspire each other, with an artistic practice often referring to and building on themes, ideas and interests explored in illustrative work.
Generally considered an entry-level role, assistant photographers hold a great deal of responsibility. A team-player with good technical knowledge and excellent organisational skills, they ensure a shoot runs smoothly whether in a studio, on set or on location. This could include setting up equipment and changing lenses to answering emails and organising digital files, all the while remaining sensitive to a photographer’s needs and particular way of working. Although many use this role as a way to prepare and pave the way for their own photographic practice, some go on to work as first and second assistants to high-profile photographers.
Associate Creative Director (Design)
An associate creative director works alongside the creative director across multiple projects in marketing, artistic direction, concept development and creation. They will be responsible for overseeing a number of simultaneous projects and teams, within which they will be developing the design direction, creating timelines, ensuring efficient internal and external communication, making stylistic decisions, and reviewing and providing feedback throughout the project. Associate creative directors have to be meticulous and highly organised, adaptable and receptive to the demands of different tasks and projects, and above all, creative, as well as having an awareness of current design trends and the styles and tones of individual companies.
A brand strategist works with a brand manager or within a marketing team to create, sustain and deliver long term plans and objectives for a product or service. They will advise the client on marketing strategies and devise a plan for brand-growth, as well as helping the client to outline and pursue a clear direction, ethos and purpose.
CG Supervisor (Animation)
A tech whizz with both a creative and pragmatic brain, a CG (computer graphics) supervisor is responsible for working out the best way to technically execute a director’s artistic vision. With an inside-out knowledge of animation techniques, they’re the producer’s go-to advisor. CG supervisors assess whether a preferred animation style can be made on budget, plan how long each animation stage will take, organise workflow and any training the animators may need.
A character artist working in animation – also called a character designer – has the role of forming the entire concept, look and personality of a character. They'll work on a character from the initial idea through to its realisation and placement in context. The artistic development and design is not just focused on the character's visual identity and physical characteristics, but also their mannerisms, their voice (if they have one), their emotions and individualities. A large part of the role involves a deep dive into a character's motivations, background and psyche in order to inform how they will ultimately manifest and interact when they appear on our screens.
Chief Talent Officer (Advertising)
A relatively new role, a chief talent officer is a true people person with a vested interest in industry trends and emerging creative culture – be that the hottest new director or emerging technology. While their responsibilities will overlap with those of HR and recruitment teams, their position is often far more strategic and creative, keeping a close eye on marketing potential, public image and network. Usually a senior and in-house role, the chief talent officer will take cues from a CEO or other senior management team members. Continually growing their knowledge and connections with skilled creatives, they will bring in the right person – from a photographer to a strategist – for a project or on a longer-term basis to create the best-possible work. They may also follow emerging careers within their network over time, playing a part in their ongoing development.
A client director is the principal link between a company and a client. Working within a sales team (selling products or services), the client director is the main point of contact for a business's clients and stakeholders. As well as maintaining relationships with longstanding clients, they might also have the responsibility of bringing in new clients. Their key skills will be in communication and customer service, applied to tasks such as developing proposals, account strategising and conducting internal and external dialogues.
A colourist will put the finishing touches on picture elements of a film or television programme. Altering and enhancing the colour of the picture enables them to aid the storytelling process by indicating a sense of time, tone and mood. They also help to ensure visual continuity, making sure that all the scenes match each other, so that nothing looks or feels out of place. Colouring is often a very collaborative process, and colourists will often work on a finishing team alongside a sound mixer and online editor. A colourist will have a good eye for composition, understanding of filming processes as well as an ability to use post-production and editing software.
Communications consultants help businesses to strengthen communication among employees and with external clients and the public to meet communications-related goals. They may be part of a branding strategy, a website design, a marketing project or an internal communications initiative. Larger businesses may have full-time communications consultants on their teams, but the role usually functions through an agency, and consultants will be hired by companies according to their needs and for specific projects.
Content strategy encompasses writing, images and other media. A content strategist is responsible for planning and delivering this content in a way that is coherent, engaging, visually appealing, well-structured, accessible and relevant to purpose. They must be aware of content in other related sectors, decide what needs to be delivered and how, often commission images or pieces of writing, and coordinate the different elements to create a total user, reader or viewer experience.
A natural wordsmith with an ability to craft clear, engaging and persuasive copy, a copywriter typically works alongside an art director to come up with concepts and campaign ideas across an increasing number of platforms from print advertisements, scripts for film and TV through to websites, emails and apps. At times writing for numerous brands – all with varying personalities and intentions, a copywriter must remain closely attuned to details and nuances in a brand’s personality and tone of voice, penning copy that best engages with its intended audience.
A copywriter for design possesses and utilises many of the same skills found in a copywriter for advertising. But unlike a copywriter working as a creative pair, those writing for design can work as freelancers, or find work through studios or agencies. From naming new companies to helping a client to verbally articulate who they are and what they do, a copywriter can turn their hand from sharp and witty one-liners to entertaining and informative long-form text, expertly shifting their style and adapting their tone of voice to speak on behalf of a client and their target audience.
Something of a big-ideas machine, a creative in the realm of advertising will often be in charge of concocting a solid, innovative concept for a client that will essentially carry a project through to fruition. A multitalented breed, their expertise may span copywriting, graphic design, art direction and production for illustration, animation, photography or film. Generally involved in most parts of the process, a creative’s work will be informed by research and analytics, collaborating with the production, planning, account and client teams to guide a vision to the satisfying point of completion.
Creative Director (Advertising)
Hefty decision-making and fierce guarding of style and vision are all in a day’s work for a creative director. More often than not, the look, feel and concept behind a project or company will rest on their choices. Sometimes referred to as a CD, the role requires as much innovation as it does strategy, and is generally earned with years of industry experience – ranging from copywriting to art direction – and a reputation for proven commercial triumphs. Not just restricted to overseeing, briefing and whipping up inspiration and enthusiasm in internal teams, they will also nurture client relationships, and may be expected to actively represent and promote the business as well as call in new work.
Creative Director (Design)
This managerial role is the top of the ladder for many graphic design graduates. A creative director must be an accomplished juggler, nimbly switching between projects with big picture overview as well as careful attention to detail. They’re often the face of the studio, pitching to and liaising with clients, before developing a vision and relaying it back to their team of designers. The role requires you to be an eternal fountain of ideas that can quickly sketch out numerous routes in response to a brief, steering a project back on track when it starts falling apart. Depending on level, a creative director will also head overall studio strategy, with all the responsibilities – and paperwork – that running a successful business requires.
The role of a creative technologist falls somewhere between technology, design and coding. They'll be involved in concept development through to its digital implementation. The tasks can vary from company to company and from project to project, but the role is generally a hands-on one which requires coding skills, software knowledge and an understanding of digital technology. A creative technologist might work on creating web layouts, online shops, products and marketing content.
A curator selects artwork to be exhibited in a museum, gallery or show space as part of an event, exhibition, performance or permanent collection. They are responsible for carrying out research, acquiring works, cataloguing and archiving, and presenting. Depending on the specific job description, a curator may also have conservation and care duties – if a piece is particularly fragile, old or susceptible to other forms of damage, the curator will have to determine the best possible conditions for its display and, if necessary, supervise restoration and repairs. Curatorship includes digital curation, which covers the photographing, information cataloguing and digital display of objects in a collection as part of a virtual exhibit or online archive.
A data journalist uses numerical data to impart information. Data journalism involves carrying out research, conducting surveys and being aware of and staying up to date with studies in science, technology, politics, public interest, academia and culture, as well as identifying and interpreting trends and patterns within that data and, ultimately, conveying insights and information to a readership. The role is essential to understand and clarifying contemporary issues based on objective data and number-based facts.
Data Visualisation Designer
The role of a data visualisation designer consists in converting data and numerical information into a visual format which clarifies that data, presents it in an engaging way and makes it more accessible to a wider audience. They'll produce things like graphs or charts, diagrams, infographics and illustrations to deliver often complex information to us in a way that is easy to understand and visually appealing. This graphical representation of data is used to identify and illustrate trends and patterns, and to convert spreadsheets and reports into easily digestible visuals. A data visualisation designer will have both the creativity to envisage how information might be presented in a visual format, and the mathematics and logics skills to understand and process that data themselves, along with the graphics, art and technology capabilities to ultimately produce the visualisation.
A deputy editor works with a publication – whether that be a newspaper, magazine, online journal, blog or book publisher – as the second-in-command to the editor. They take on the role of the editor in the editor's absence. More than just an editorial understudy, however, a deputy editor, depending on the specific publication, might have a role as a section editor or an assistant editor, as well as supporting the general editor in editorial and managerial duties.
Design Director (Design)
While the creative director is responsible for the overall concept and delivery of creative work, the design director oversees the details of the design itself and make sure this is to a professional standard. As a design studio may take on numerous projects at the same time, the design director ensures that a certain level of quality is maintained across all projects – whether big or small. With a keen eye for detail and an excellent design sensibility both conceptually and technically, they will often start off as senior designers before being promoted to the role of design director.
Designers are responsible for many of the advertisements you see day-to-day – whether on the bus, in the newspaper or on your phone. Often found working in-house for brands represented by an agency, they will work with the client and agency creatives to refine a brand’s message and figure out the most effective way to communicate it visually. With a thorough knowledge of current trends, consumer habits and technical expertise, a designer creates eye-catching visuals that prompt and persuade audiences to engage with a product or brand. Quick and comfortable navigating design and image-editing software, they work to prepare artwork to a professional standard, from preparing posters for print to planning pixels for webpages.
Although a glance at their screen may look like they’re plugged into the Matrix or solving a particularly complex maths problem, developers spend their days building websites and web or mobile apps using multiple programming languages. Sometimes name-checked as coders or programmers, the job can include designing behind-the-scenes software and databases (termed the back end) and working on the visual interface (front end) or a bit of both (full-stack).
The digital compositor is the last port of call in the production process for film, television, advertising and gaming, as well as website displays and single images. It is their job to combine all the visual elements together at the end of the production process, to create the final scenes that make it onto our screens. Working principally in the VFX department, they assemble visual compositions by layering previously created material and images and blending them to form a single, seamless image. A digital compositor needs mathematical knowledge, computer software skills, an eye for detail, the ability to adapt to different projects and styles, communicative skills, and creative flair.
This role focuses on the digital aspects of design. That might include website design, typography, graphic design, coding, animation, illustration, video production, game design, special effects, generating social media content, or curating the digital identity and online presence of a brand or company. With the overarching presence of the internet and digital technology, most companies these days require input from digital designer, whether that be for marketing, aesthetic, production or creative purposes. The role of a digital designer demands a blend of creativity, computer-literacy and tech skills to design and generate visuals using electronic software and technology.
Digital Product Designer
What does it take to make mobile apps, websites, wearable technology and digital services work? A fluid and intuitive experience. Digital product designers merge design with technology, developing digital products from concept to launch. Problem-solving tactics and emotional intelligence are the core gears they put into action, guiding this lifecycle. Working across UX (user experience) and UI (user interface), product designers plan business strategy, conduct research and user testing and create prototypes to validate ideas. They will also provide feedback to visual or service designers and fail and learn as fast as possible to achieve the best digital product experience. This is a decision making management role for good communicators, and most often, is a progression from visual design or UX, stepping up to lead the team.
Much like their counterparts in film, animation directors provide the creative vision and leadership for a project. Masterful storytellers, they’ll come up with the ideas, plot, aesthetic, tone and execution to meet a client brief, before leading a team of animators, set designers, model-makers, camera people and voice artists to get it done. Often animators themselves, some directors become known for a specific style (personal projects are key to winning jobs), whereas others happily bounce around between techniques, hiring experts to make their imaginations reality.
The main point of contact for the look, feel and narrative structure of a film, a director visually interprets a script for short and feature-length pieces, TV programmes, documentaries, adverts or music videos. Involved in every aspect of the production process, from casting and reviewing storyboards to shooting and editing, long and irregular working hours are a given. A natural leader with an artistic vision and creative intuition, a director motivates and inspires both cast and crew to perform to their full potential, all the while remaining open and adaptable to changing circumstances, ensuring a production keeps to schedule and stays on budget.
Director of Photography (Film)
Part tech geek, part painter, this top-tier job involves defining the entire visual identity of a film and leading every aspect of the filming process. DOPs (or DPs as they’re often known) craft a film’s look with their expert selection of camera kit, lenses, lighting techniques and film stock, transforming a script into a shot list, which can then be used for scheduling. A keen eye for storytelling is also essential – DOPs use focus, framing and movement (think pans, tilts and zooms) to best express the emotion at the heart of a scene. On set they’re in charge of all camera and lighting crew, and will often work with editors and colourists to hone atmosphere in the post-productions stages.
Directors’ Representative (Film)
The job of a directors’ representative (or directors’ rep) is to build a roster of directing talent and grow relationships with potential new clients. If they work for a particular company or studio, they will be expected to spread the word for them, as well as managing their own existing network of contacts. Their day-to-day will involve regular meetings, screenings and constant scouting for new talent and potential new collaborations – online or otherwise – keeping a finger on the creative pulse at all times. Their work may take them on-set, but this may primarily be to advise executive producer, and offer a second opinion to the director and other key creatives on a production. Crossing over with the new business arm of a production company or agency, they might also manage relationships with industry press, identifying PR opportunities.
The role of an editor is to gather, create, revise and coordinate material for a publication. They will receive pitches and review stories and trends to produce articles and features that appeal to the publication's readership and reflect its tone and style. As well as working with writers to offer suggestions and feedback, editors will often have their own writing duties and will be expected to generate their own material for the publication. The skills required of an editor include, to name a few, a keen eye for detail, impeccable grammar, proofreading abilities, creative flair when writing, organisation, time management and excellent written and verbal communication.
Patience, precision and passion are typical hallmarks of a film editor. In a role that blends technical expertise with artistic flair, an editor will often work alongside the director on how a narrative unfolds, bringing together various elements to tell stories that are both effective and compelling. Employed as freelancers, or as part of a team in post-production and television studios, they will spend hours in editing suites laboriously watching, selecting and trimming raw footage before adding sound and graphic elements to create finished films of various lengths – whether that be a 30-second TV trailer, a three-minute music video or even a three-hour feature film.
Essentially, the editorial leader of a publication. The editor-in-chief has the conclusive say in production and editorial policies, and is ultimately responsible for the final product made by the company, including its tone and aesthetic. It's a managerial role as well as an editorial role, which involves strategic planning and steering the direction as the head of an editorial team. This is different from a managing editor, however, whose job it is to oversee the daily functions and administrations of the company. Where the managing editor will be more focused on monitoring day-to-day operations and making sure that the company runs smoothly and consistently, the editor-in-chief attends principally to the publication's final output to its readership.
An exhibition designer essentially crafts how an exhibition will look, whether that's in a gallery, a museum, a library, or else for a business, show, event or conference. They will draw up designs, floor plans, lighting plans and visitor pathways using digital technology or simply a pencil and paper, as well as making decisions on the materials that will be used, the different mediums by which information will be presented, and the levels of interactivity that the display will involve. Large, renowned institutions like the V&A will have in-house exhibitions designers, while other, smaller or independent ventures will employ an external designer on the basis of need or for specific events.
An experience designer focuses on the user experience in relation to a product, service, interface or experience. The role includes aspects of design, branding, strategy, technology and creativity, with the aim of delivering a user experience that takes into account aesthetic appeal, function, usability, accessibility and interaction. The experience designer might work on interactive exhibitions, publications, software and hardware, video games, apps or websites.
On paper, a TV and film gaffer is head of the electrical department on set for film, and is answerable to the DOP (or director of photography). Techie through and through, they will be put in charge of ensuring that the kit safely brings the vision of both the director of photography and director to life, managing the ‘best boy’ and the ‘sparks’ on set. While their work is primarily film and TV-focused, they may also work on large photography shoots.
Within game design, a game artist will be involved in all areas that require visual art. They will often come from a graphic design or fine art background. The work of a game artist involves: making initial sketches using either analogue techniques or computer software, developing characters and topography, digitally creating 3D models and textures, and ultimately realising and manifesting the concept of the game as a visual experience. Depending on the scope of the company and the specifications of the role, a game artist might collaborate with game designers, writers, software engineers and character designers when working towards the production of an immersive, visually stimulating user-interface.
A branch of digital design within the entertainment industry, game design involves the creation of concepts, characters, mechanics, motion graphics, settings and storylines to deliver an immersive and engaging user-experience. They will work with game engineers, writers and developers to create the final product which appears on our screens as an interactive, user-focused interface based on choice and agency. Skills required for a career in game design include: computer literacy, programming, coding, mathematics, logic, artistic innovation and, crucially, an understanding of and receptivity to the world of gaming and its audience. A game designer has to be able to come up with a concept, style and aesthetic for a game in correlation with the game's intended audience.
Graphic Designer (Design)
Given its enormous breadth, the role of the graphic designer is hard to pigeonhole. Aside from the obvious visual communication, the role can involve strategy, art direction, illustration, production, copywriting, web design, programming, and – for the really struggling clients – a little bit of therapy. More often than not, the aim is to create innovative work that inspires the audience to act, buy, or think differently about a brand or organisation, whether its developing a bells and whistles corporate identity or the scruffiest of zines.
Illustrators are commissioned by clients to visually communicate ideas in advertisements, books, magazines and newspapers, through to apps and in TV and film. While possessing a natural artistic flair and confident personal style, each illustrator will favour certain tools or media such as pencils and watercolours or may choose to combine traditional tools and illustration software. Due to this individualistic nature, most illustrators work freelance and are based in home studios or in collaborative workspaces. As the scale and timeframe of commissions will vary, excellent time-management skills are essential in order to meet deadlines and keep track of finances.
The job of an image researcher is to locate and obtain permissions for images, which will then be used across a range of media and products, including advertising, publications, books, catalogues, web content and visual marketing. Image researching involves carrying out research using a variety of sources such as online image banks, stock photo libraries and photography archives, then negotiating prices to obtain the rights to use images, and building up digital archives and catalogues of images. The role functions alongside and in collaboration with other professions like writers, designers, artists and editors. An understanding of the client's creative direction, style and tone is necessary, hence many image researchers have a background in the visual arts.
There are many different types of journalist, but, fundamentally, the job refers to someone who writes for a publication. They might report for a newspaper or magazine (online or in print); they might be a blogger, a columnist, a political or social commentator or an arts critic (including reporting on and reviewing literature, visual art, theatre, film and cultural events). The basic trajectory for what the role involves and how it pans out in practise is: research (whether that's conducting an interview, going to an exhibition, reading other articles and books, carrying out surveys, or simply talking to people); processing the information received; selecting the most salient, important, informative or interesting points; determining an angle; working the story or information into a piece of writing or reportage in your distinctive journalistic voice; delivering the story to the publication and, ultimately, to its readership.
Ever wonder how a company’s iconic designs make it onto consumer products and into stores? Think Roald Dahl chocolates, V&A pumps or Tom Dixon sofas for IKEA... The licensing manager is at the centre of this action, driving new products to market and making sure everything’s ‘on-brand’. They will often work in-house for a company and find third-party partners who can produce and sell their unique products. It’s a business role for a creative mind, which might expand to deciding which products are given the go ahead and how they look. Key tasks include analysing consumer forecasting and developing strategy, negotiating contracts and terms, and most importantly, managing the collaborations, expectations and approvals and ensuring the new goods are a success.
Marketing Manager (Design/Advertising)
Whether helping put together creative concepts for brands or coming up with exciting ways to get the studio or agency’s work seen by a wider audience, a marketing manager should have a good head for business as well as strong verbal and written communication skills. Taking on a range of tasks from organising events to drafting press material to support a launch, they might work alone or liaise with other marketing professionals depending on the size and scale of the company, to ensure the work receives maximum exposure and meets both creative and financial expectations.
Motion Graphics Designer (Design/Animation/Film)
The work of a motion graphics designers overlaps various disciplines including illustration, visual effects, graphic design, animation and typography. Often working collaboratively within large teams, they will design graphics and then bring them to life as videos for anything from film trailers to television ads and animations. A good eye and fluency in design programs go hand in hand with a current working knowledge of software, hardware and industry developments.
Music licensers represent bands, composers, music production companies and record labels to place their music in visual media. This could be anything from film, TV and advertising to gaming. Music licensing essentially describes the process of obtaining and authorising the legal rights for the use of tracks by clients working in visual media who are looking to include music in their production. The music licensers navigate the prohibitions around copying, broadcasting and distributing to sell and buy the licenses to pieces of music. Because the UK blanket license allows UK terrestrial broadcasters the rights to most tracks without having to clear the way legally, this role is more prominent in the US.
Much more than simply pointing and shooting, a photographer’s work will rarely start and end at the click of a button. While technical know-how and a sharp eye are key, much time can be spread across planning, budgeting, researching, test shooting, sourcing a team, liaising with a client, and finally, editing. With one approach varying greatly from the next, different forms of photography might be defined by equipment (such as aerial or macro photography); to context (including photojournalism, still life, fine art, commercial, portrait, documentary or street photography); to a particular industry, event or point of interest (such as fashion, food, automotive, wedding, travel, entertainment, music, architectural, interiors or sports – right up to medicine, nature and science).
Photographic Director (Photography)
Not to be confused with a director or photography in film (or DOP), a photographic director serves as a creative director in the field of photography. Working in-house or freelance at a magazine or brand, they will oversee the overall vision and strategy of their photographic output. While the position entails big-picture thinking, their expertise will often be required from inception to delivery on specific commissions. This might involve developing a concept, research, commissioning talent and building a team, managing the shoot and feeding back on or selecting final images. A photographic director may start out as a photographer themselves, or in other visual or editorially rooted roles, such as art direction.
Print Designer (Design/Illustration)
Broadly defined as design intended for printed media, print design can span magazine and newspaper layouts, fabric printing or design for packaging, book covers, cards or posters. Working primarily on visuals that will translate onto or become physical surfaces and objects, the role will often rely on good knowledge of production techniques and requirements, from screen printing to manufacturing processes. With great demand for their skill set in the fashion and textile industries, a print designer might work in-house for a brand, or go freelance across a wide range of projects.
A vital cog in the wheel of any advertising project, a producer will play the role of both orchestrator and mediator to propel a grand idea into reality. From scheduling and budgeting to securing the right workforce and resources, their fastidious organisational know-how ensures all logistics are taken care of. While creative expression is not their key focus, a knack for problem solving, thorough knowledge of processes and their timings are essential – from the creation of a digital campaign or film shoot to event production. The articulate go-between for client and internal teams, they will keep the peace while maintaining momentum, overseeing quality standards and feasibility down to the last practical detail.
Balancing the demands of both studio executives and a creative team, an animation producer acts as a middleman, maintaining a general overview of both the creative and financial aspects of an animated film. Informed by an extensive understanding of the animation process, they’ll figure out how much a film will cost to make before putting together a budget and sourcing essential materials needed to make the film. A manager of both people and pennies with good communication and business skills, they bring a film to fruition by ensuring creative aspirations are met within a realistic timeframe.
Not a million miles away from the equivalent role in the world of filmmaking, a producer in design transforms a project from creative whimsy into real life, with planning skills that would put the most organised of spreadsheets to shame. Responsibility for timelines, budgets and staff workload often sit within their meticulous grasp, as does wringing out the best quality – and deals – from suppliers and collaborators, from paper factories to local councils. In some studios, a producer can also be part hype merchant, drumming up enthusiasm for a new project so that internal and external partners are all striving towards the same goal.
This organisational and financial mastermind handles the practical aspects of a film from the get-go. They’re often the first person on the scene, responsible for assembling the rest of the cast and crew and transforming an idea into profitable enterprise. The role involves masses of entrepreneurial flair – for a film to even get off the ground the producer must inspire belief in the project in order to secure huge wads of cash and top talent. It’s their job to ensure the smooth running of all elements of the process, from budgets and schedules to approving locations, health and safety and liaising with production partners, investors and distributors – something especially important during the post-production phase.
A producer acts as the backbone of any photographic shoot, organising, scheduling and taking control of all aspects of pre-production. Responsible for ensuring a shoot goes as smoothly as possible, they possess fortune-teller-like abilities, foreseeing and finding ways to solve potential problems that could arise while on set. They will book flights, write estimates and liaise with casting agencies if needed. A clear communicator with excellent people and leadership skills, they must be confident in delegating roles in order to keep a production on schedule and on budget.
A product manager’s role is broad and all-encompassing. Working within multidisciplinary teams often consisting of a product lead, delivery manager, researchers, designers and engineers, they combine user needs and business goals to create physical or digital products that serve a real purpose for a company. They help to identify problems and then develop practical solutions, overseeing and working across every element of the process, from analysing data to prototyping and building finished products. A healthy curiosity, a basic knowledge of technology, and an understanding of people are all essential skills.
Production Designer (Film)
Working with a director to agree a visual style, a production designer will be responsible for translating a screenplay or treatment into a real-life environment. Whether it’s a historically accurate period piece or far-fetched sci-fi, they will design sets, props, sometimes costumes and – vitally – work out how much it’s all going to cost. Their detailed sketches are then given to the production company or art department on feature films to start the build – but their job isn’t done there. Often the first on set during a shoot, production designers will make sure the dressing of each set matches their designs, as well as collating a final budget once filming is complete.
Project Manager (Design)
Although not directly involved in the creation of the design work itself, a project manager works to create a positive and productive culture by maintaining good relationships within both the creative team and with a client. Organised and assertive, they set goals and objectives using insights gleaned from meetings to lead a project from inception to completion. A confident communicator with a sharp and strategic mind, a project manager keeps an eye on the bigger picture while attending to any problems that should arise.
Promo producers come up with ideas to promote television shows. Looking to engage with audiences, a good trailer has the potential to attract new viewers. Normally working within television companies, they will write copy, scripts, direct and edit promotional films and trailers – anything from 30 to 60 seconds long. As their role takes them from their desks to directing photoshoots on location, a broad skill set is required, including: knowledge of editing software and programmes, alongside a calm head and an eye for composition and performance.
Researcher (Advertising and Marketing)
The role of a researcher differs depending on what industry you’re looking at – but what connects researchers from across industries is a thirst for knowledge and an insatiable interest in what drives people. They are brought on board to provide in-depth research into a particular brief, whether that’s for a shoe brand, soft drink or dating app. This can be done in a number of ways, including interviews or workshops, and often involves travelling to get closer to a target audience or demographic. Getting beneath the surface, a researcher’s findings help to create an authentic picture of what’s really going on within a client’s chosen landscape, and help inform an overarching strategy, creative direction and marketing plan.
A photographic retoucher will digitally tweak and fine-tune a photographer’s raw image files until they are pixel-perfect, whether that’s correcting colours, extending a background or reworking shapes within an image. Often with a solid training in photography or a visual arts background, a retoucher will possess a sharp eye for colour, tone and minute details.
Whether it’s a bus journey, a governmental procedure or simply booking tickets online, a service designer’s job is to find ways to improve services for the people who use them. Looking to improve the user journey, their work entails researching and analysing an entire experience – which might include running workshops and interviews to gather insights – in order to come up with new solutions. If you have an interest in design, how people use and interact with services, a knack for efficient research and a love of making things functional, this could be the job for you!
Set Designer (Photography)
Widely speaking, a set designer will rely on crafty expertise to develop and transform an idea into a physical setting or design. Beyond deft making skills and precise attention to detail, the role can call upon solid organisation, rapid problem solving and team leadership to realise a vision for TV, film, photography, theatre or event production. A near-encyclopedic knowledge of materials and their suppliers might also prove incredibly useful when sourcing weird and wonderful fabrics and props.
A job that’s been around pretty much since Paleolithic man started daubing cave walls, sign painters use traditional techniques to create freehand lettering. Sought after for its handmade feel, sign painting is just as likely to be used for a corporate rebrand as for shop signs, door numbers or one-off artworks. It’s very much a craft-based practice (think specific brush strokes, gold leafing, silk-screening, glue-glass chipping, carving and stencilling), but many modern sign painters might allow themselves to ‘cheat’ (as purists would say) by using Photoshop or Illustrator to compose and scale up their designs.
Whether you’re tuned into it or not, sound design has an integral impact on the way we absorb information and how it makes us feel; from a scene in film, TV or radio to notification noises in apps, games or tech products. It’s the task of a sound designer to define and develop these audio elements. Often found waving variously shaped microphones at people and places, their work can span from music production (creating electronic soundscapes to recording choirs and orchestras) to conducting voice overs or collecting field recordings. Their background might be musical, but a good knowledge of the discipline they are creating for means their point of entry to the industry could be as wide-ranging as filmmaking or design.
Storyboard Artist (Film/Illustration)
Liaising with directors and writers across TV, film and advertising, the job of a storyboard artist is to turn scripts into stills. Drawn by hand or using a computer, these stills suggest how a scene might unfold on screen before official production gets underway. Often working under tight production schedules, an infinite imagination matched with a proactive attitude and exceptional draftsmanship are essential in creating stills that capture and convey the intent, mood and emotion of the script.
Intuitive and tactical, with strong research skills and a good working knowledge of trends and current affairs, strategists uncover insights and develop new strategies for a brand, helping it speak to its current audience or tap into and engage with a new one. Associated with both the business and creative sides of a campaign, a strategist conducts, collates and analyses market research to develop a creative brief that clearly outlines this strategy to the creative team. Typically found in marketing or advertising agencies, they can work in a more general capacity or specialise in specific areas such as social media.
Studio Manager (Design)
A studio manager’s role will vary depending on a company’s size and individual culture. Instead of focusing on the work itself, studio managers will oversee the day-to-day practicalities of the workspace and a team’s needs. Excellent organisational and communication skills are a must for keeping a watchful eye over the studio’s schedule, while a personable and emphatic character helps create and maintain a positive and productive atmosphere.
Within animation and VFX, the role of a texture artist is to digitally apply surface properties to objects in a scene, often making it resemble real life. This can include recreating skin, hair or fur and objects in many different materials. A texture artist might work closely alongside digital modellers, character designers, lighting artists and background artists to ensure everything within a scene fits together to create a full picture. The role requires skills in 3D animation and good knowledge of associated software.
Essentially, a type designer is someone who designs typefaces. In the largely digital world of type design, this role often falls under the umbrella of graphic design, but analogue techniques like calligraphy and hand-lettering are still used in the design process. A type designer's role is to determine the shape and overall look of individual glyphs and characters. The role often extends into font design, which involves producing an entire set of characters, including letters, numbers and punctuation, for input via a keyboard.
UX Designer (Design)
If you’ve ever wondered why some digital interfaces feel, to use the buzzword, ‘intuitive’, whereas others feel like an endless merry-go-round into despair – a UX designer is your answer. Not to be confused with the more visually minded UI designer, a user-experience designer is responsible for making the digital interactions between a customer and business (such as websites, apps, games) as straightforward as possible, through a combination of customer and market research, prototyping and user testing. The role involves an interest in psychology and cognitive science, an analytical brain and a passion for accessibility.
VFX Artist / Visual Effects Artist
VFX artists, or visual effects artists, use digital software to work with both live-action footage and 2D or 3D computer-generated models and create motion graphics, animations and visually engaging environments which set the scene in a film, TV show or game. They might create characters, landscapes, special effects, natural elements, buildings, vehicles, or even objects like gadgets, products and tools. VFX artists are brought onto a production where the required settings, environments or elements would be too costly, dangerous or simply impossible to produce or capture with a camera. Because the work of a VFX artist will often be set alongside or integrated into live-action footage, they have to produce scenes that are believable and realistic, as well as visually stimulating. The role requires a mix of artistic and technical ability, along with a receptiveness to creative direction.
The VFX producer (visual effects producer) is central to a production. The exact job description and duties vary between roles and projects, but essentially they are involved in a management capacity in all aspects of a production to ensure that it remains on schedule and delivers high-quality results. They discuss the project with clients, deal with the budget, liaise with the live-action team, assign work, ensure communication between team members and with other production teams, and consistently evaluate and offer feedback on progress. Basically – they make sure that the things which need doing on a production get done.
Behind the scenes of live television, directors, producers and technicians are tirelessly working to perfect the visuals, sound and flow of live shows. Tucked away in the production gallery or production truck (if recording outdoors), is the vision mixer, who live edits television programmes as they are transmitted or recorded, taking cues from the director. Similar to a sound mixer, a vision mixer works with a mixing desk, outfitted with an expansive array of knobs and buttons, used for switching camera sources, compositing video and creating special effects like wipes and frame manipulations. These techniques are widely used for news, sports broadcasts and also for entertainment, when studio shows are pre-recorded with multiple cameras. Vision mixing is a high-adrenaline job that comes with a lot of responsibility, and along with it, long hours. The director relies on the vision mixer to get the timing and edit right and stay focused at all times. Keeping calm under pressure, being able to react quickly and maintain stamina are key assets in a role that can play a part in the broadcast of historic events.
This job title is pretty self-explanatory, but a lot of people don't realise how many different forms the role of a writer can take across the creative industries. You might be: a journalist writing for a newspaper, blog, magazine or digital publication; a copywriter writing for an advertising company, a consumer product company, an institution or charity organisation; a creative writer (novels, poetry, scripts, short stories), or an academic writer (scholastic journals, research papers). Your writing might also be spread across many different mediums: pen and paper, print, social media, websites, physical products. Essentially, if writing is your skill, there are a myriad of diverse jobs out there for you – what kind of work you end up doing really depends on your professional and creative interests, values and aspirations!