Do Art Directors Need to Know How to Draw?

In an earlier post, I raised the question “Does an art director need to know how to draw?” I’ll give you my take, but first, a little background:

You future art directors are usually going to have to put pen to paper for one or two reasons:
  1. Rough comps for internal presentations
  2. Rough storyboards for internal presentations
Once your ideas are approved internally, in almost any pitch or big meeting, the agency is going to hire an illustrator to rework your original chicken scratchings. You could argue that illustrators are to art directors what proofreaders are to copywriters. So if you are lousy at shading, don’t worry. An illustrator can still put that chiaroscuro in your soap commercial.

Here’s a storyboard that was drawn by Corey Ciszek, an art director and creative director at Y&R Chicago:

Can Corey draw? I say yes. There’s quite a lot of detail in these pictures. Look at the pile of wood in the first frame. The guy with the goatee in the second. There’s even a little perspective and depth of field going on here. His characters look like Muppets, but there’s a lot that’s communicated in these four frames. It’s his visual short hand.

I knew a creative director who was incredulous at one of his art director’s inability to draw. And you know what? She couldn’t. Or at least didn’t try. She would have taken these four panels and made them wobbly stick figures on a 2-dimensional plane. No pertinent detail. Just stick figures that were placeholders for action.

So art directors don’t necessarily have to be able to draw. But an art director who can draw is going to have a much easier time communicating than one who can’t.