Once you have accrued 5-10 years of experience in design, you may be considering a move to the coveted position of design director. The creative lead in this position has likely garnered work experience in various related projects and understands how design and concept become a completed project.
Build your design portfolio
Save samples of your best work that tell the story of what you have accomplished. Your body of design work will make up your portfolio. Each project should be a summary of the designs you’ve developed and projects you completed. This is where you tell your story and share your process. Be intentional.
You are, however, much more than a collection of visual documents. To enter the creative director field, you must also:
- Become known for simplifying the complex
- Align the message with the mission
- Develop an understanding of client needs and wants
- Recognize how styles and concepts work together
- Follow through with the vision
Take the initiative and make the pitch
In addition to your design and communication skills, you’ll take the lead on projects, and you’ll have to pitch them, too.
Because of your background, you’ll find the creative aspect easy. It’s the pitch that can be harder. Design directors sell ideas to prospective clients by understanding client needs and developing a good design that meets or exceeds those needs. You’re not executing the concept at this time, just bringing enough of it to life for the client to catch a glimpse of what could be.
Not everyone can visualize concepts, and that’s why they come to you. Part of your job is helping them see the vision.
Never stop learning
Once you become a design director, you’re not done learning. You’ll want to keep growing your skills, whether that means learning a new technology or, if you have your Bachelor’s degree, pursuing the Master’s.
Continuing your professional development shows that you are current with trends, enabling you to provide fresh content and design. Part of this learning can come from your involvement in professional organizations.
Expand your network
Joining a professional organization can expand your network, giving you access to professional development opportunities and resources that may position you at the top of your field. All design groups have created artistic communities focused on inspiration and creative design. These organizations, like others, support their members through learning opportunities, conferences, and other benefits.
Include design recruiters in your network; they have valuable insight into industry needs. Additionally, update your resume every six months so that you can share it at a moments’ notice.
Are you a professional looking for a new opportunity?