Art Director Web Resources You Didn’t Know You Needed.
There are tons of resources available on the internet for young art directors, but finding them is incredibly difficult. One of the main objectives of being an art director is finding the perfect most unique assets for your designs. Going outside the normal Adobe Stock photos and Google Images to find photographs and typefaces that are as unique as your project. One thing I’ve noticed is that lots of students like to keep their resources secret, holding onto the belief that those with the knowledge are going to create better work, however in my opinion this is total rubbish. When we all have access to resources, we’re able to grow together (I don’t know, do that wonderful thing called collaboration), and create The Good Work™. So, I’ve compiled the resources that have saved me as I learn and grow as an art director that I think will help you out as well.
You need photos. It seems there is always a demand for quality photography in your work. It makes the impersonal, personal. However, Adobe Stock, while good for some things, can only give you so much. So you get stuck, you want a really cool image, it doesn’t exist on Adobe Stock or Google Images, and you don’t want to use stolen work. Here, is the holy grail of license-free photos available to you and provided by photographers. Oh, and it’s free. You’ll have to do some digging, but when you find that perfect photo it’s worth it.
Unsplash - One of my most used websites. Perfect for most any situation with high quality photography. Be careful how you search though, everything is organized by single word tags, so this will take some creative searches to get what you want.
Split shire - Very similar to unsplash but with access to free videos and gifs, oh my.
Gratisography - For more creative/out of the box photographs - need a photo of a sad man in a bunny suit? Check it here.
New Old Stock - A database of actually vintage photography, posters, newspapers - perfect for all your nostalgia dreams.
Your designs will rest on your font choices. Knowing what works and what doesn’t and perfecting that art director’ eye is what will set you apart from the rest. From finding what fonts work well together to discovering some of the new fonts being made, here are your resources.
Pangrampangram - Perfect for finding free and new fonts - they don’t come out super frequently, but usually when they do they really hit it out of the park. Also, they’re free.
Font spark - A font generator of sorts - type whatever you want, click random, and it will give you loads of different fonts to choose from. If you like the font, it takes you to Adobe Typekit where you can easily download it.
Archetype - Helps you find compatible fonts while giving you the ability to see how they all look together. Your headline and tagline not working together just right? Look here for help in giving your design the contrast it needs. Save fonts easily and have access even to CSS custom code for websites.
Blotter - What about font effects? Everything just looking a little flat? Want your portfolio to be that much more special? Blotter has assets to help you make text animated on websites. For free.
Type wolf - Another platform where you can find information font pairings so you can get used to variety in your compositions. Also home to interesting articles about different fonts and typefaces generally. Keep up to date on font news here.
Font Macherator - (yes this is the official phrase for it) - Myfonts.com/fontsinuse/Font squirrel all have these handy font-finders where you can upload an image you’ve found of a font you like and it will tell you what font it is, or what font it is most similar to. No more digging though Adobe or Google Fonts.
Color.Adobe - I’m surprised how this gem of a tool isn’t more widely known amongst students - this is the easiest way to make a color scheme, any type of color scheme, and know that the colors work together. You can also easily save the color codes to use on your projects.
Behance - Everyone is on pinterest for inspiration but try following industry professionals directly on Behance to see not only what they’re making for work, but what they are making for them - this is the work that’s going to get you a conversation with them, bring up their passion projects (and yours).
Skillshare/Lynda - If youtube and general googling doesn’t get you what you need, or if you’re a newbie in the Adobe Suite seriously consider taking one of these courses to brush up on everything from brushes to how to photoshop hair. I know they’re long and boring, but I promise it’s worth it when you’re the only person in the room literate in After Effects.
It’s always worth it to keep improving your skills, especially while there are thousand of other young creatives out there who aren’t waiting for permission to start, they’re just doing. So go out there and do. Make work that makes you excited. Make work that isn’t an ad campaign. Art direct a fashion show, music video, or blog post. Just get out there, and hopefully these tools will help along the way.
Ami is a hair-twirling, pumpkin-wearing, polyglot, and creative who traded hot, humid Texas summers for frigid, wet Holland winters. She likes to paint with coffee, design zines, and sometimes make a few ads here and there. She’s currently falling off bikes in Amsterdam while looking for opportunities to learn more as an art director. Check out her most recent work at www.amiartiz.com and drop her a line if you know where she can get the best stroopwafels in Amsterdam.