Do the kinds of jobs you are interested in mean that you need to get noticed by the agency’s Art Director? Many creative roles are managed and overseen by an Art Director, who might be recruiting a team for a specific project, or filling vacancies within the creative department.
In larger agencies Art Directors head up specific projects or campaigns, typically overseen by a Creative Director. Frequently partnering with a Copywriter, Art Directors often have a reputation for delivering a particular kind of work, and anyone wanting to work with them will need be a great fit for this creative dynamic.
Art Directors in more boutique agencies may need to have a broader appeal, and therefore will require artworkers and designers who can provide them with this – combined with the agency’s overall style and brand.
So if you are an Artworker, Designer or freelancer looking to work with a big shot art director, how can you get noticed? Do art directors read cover letters, are they interested in your CV, or is it all about the portfolio?
Do Art Directors Read Cover Letters?
While many art directors would say that their decision on whether or not to interview someone is always down to the portfolio, your cover letter provides an introduction to this and sometimes a reading of it will decide the fate of your folio. A generic one-size-fits all approach could be seen as lazy, even disrespectful, and could be indicative of your general attitude to work.
In many cases the cover letter is no longer an actual letter, it is just as likely to be an email with a link to your portfolio and therefore you must include something that gets the attention of the art director receiving it. Don’t attach your cover letter and leave the body of the email blank, that is likely to go straight to trash, instead write a compelling letter in the text of the email giving the recipient good reasons to click on your link.
No ‘To Whom It May Concern’ with a standard ‘I’m a xxxxxxx looking for a position that will further my career…’, that is not going to make anyone sit up and take notice. Instead a personalised approach is needed, giving the art director clear reasons that you are the person for the job.
What most prospective employers are looking for is ‘fit’, and no more so than in the creative industries. Art Directors want people that can fit into their team, and produce work that is a fit for their clients and the projects they work on. So your cover letter can be a useful way of demonstrating this. In just a few short lines you can give a quick précis of your relevant experience, your attitudes and ethos, tailored for that specific job, agency and even art director.
Give the reader of your cover letter some good reasons to look at your portfolio, and reasons to want to work with you.
Are They Interested In CVs?
It is unlikely that you wont be asked to submit a CV, even if the person it is destined for is not particularly interested in your chronological work history. Having read your cover letter, your portfolio is most likely to trump your CV in the order that they are viewed. That’s not to say you should send in any old CV, you should still put some effort into making it a useful point of reference to the prospective interviewer. In my experience, art directors tend to scan a CV looking for who you have worked with before, and whether they know them, and for how long, to get an idea of the scope of your previous jobs. This includes both the agencies you have worked for, and the clients.
They want to see whether you have the right kind of experience for their agency and this can be gleaned from seeing that you have worked for similar agencies, or have experience working with particular types of clients.
Therefore your CV should also be tailored with this in mind. Giving prominence to your most relevant jobs, and the projects you have been involved in. While this may present problems in presentation, for example if your most relevant experience is not your most recent, some clever CV design should be able to overcome this!
It’s All About The Portfolio
On average your portfolio probably contributes to 70% of the decision making process of whether or not you get asked in for an interview. It’s important. However, this can vary depending on the level of the role you are applying for. If it is for a junior design job the art director may be looking for someone who is keen to learn, who wants to experiment and play with design: someone who wants to innovate and disrupt. While they will be also looking for evidence that job applicants have a good sense of space, colour, concepts, etc., attitude and fit may well override what is actually in their portfolio.
Conversely the more senior the position, the more important the portfolio. Here art directors will be looking for relevant experience that shows them that you can hit the ground running, and crucially that you can do the work specified. Fit will still be a big component of whether or not you get the job, so take any opportunities to demonstrate this through the backstory you give in your portfolio.
Once again, tailoring your portfolio to the job, agency and Art Director is the way to a successful application. Take the time to thoroughly research the agency and their clients, as well as the art director you will potentially be working with.
For design and artwork jobs have a look at our current vacancies , or get in touch with me on 020 3116 0000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your next creative role.
If you’re an Art Director, can you share what you look for when recruiting new members to your team? Leave a comment below.