For Your Consideration – Some Awesome (And Some Sexist) Art Direction

Confession time.  I am not an AD by profession but I sometimes think that I’d like to be.  I’ve had some opportunities to art direct a bit at work, and I love it.  As my boss and I like to say, “we have ideas.”

He and I spent hours today buried in stacks of Communication Arts issues, and I pulled a few things to share with all of you.

First up, PSAs.


Print Ad

Penny: In case any of us do, in fact, forget that the majority of women forced into prostitution are not women at all.

Art Directors: Héctor Buscaglia, Margie Canales; Creative Director: Jamie Rosado; Photographer: Pascal Fontana

Client: Amnesty  International

Print Ad

Copy: Nutrition Facts, Obesity will soon replace, smoking as Canada’s, number one problem.  Think before you eat.

Art Directors: Brad Connell, Kelsey Horne; Writer/Creative Director: Mike Meadus; Photographer: Ken Woo

Client: Dietitians of Canada

Television Ad

Penny: Brilliant, haunting.


(Filmed against a black background, in a very sensual ambiance, a number of couples, both homosexual and heterosexual, are making love.  Cut to a woman in a free fall crosses the screen from top to bottom.  Cut to the couples making love.  Cut to a man’s inanimated body fall heavily upon a pile of motionless bodies.  Cut to group shots of all the couples making love.  They are all making love in the same space, crammed up against one another.  The camera gradually zooms out to reveal that the couples are all squeezed into a giant hourglass, the couples are making love, while underneath, the others are all dead.  One of the people then passes through the funnel of the hourglass, and falls dead upon the other bodies.  Followed by another body, and then another…)

Super: Every ten seconds, someone in the world dies of AIDS.  Time is running out, please send your donations today.  Sidaction: United against AIDS.

Art Directors: Edward Capelle, Stephane Santana; Creative Director: Stephan Ferens; Editor: Vincent Merchand; Director: Dimitri Daniloff

Client: Sidaction



Penny: I love this concept!

Creative Director: Dino Paul

Client: Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center


Print Ad

Penny: One of the best ads I have seen in a long time.

Art Directors: Chris Chiu, Alex Lim Thye Aun

Client: Procter & Gamble, Singapore

Print Ad

Creative Director: Carol Henderson; Writer: Eric Sorenson

Client: Fizzy Lizzy

Print Ad

Penny: Trees are a HUGE source of inspiration for me, and I absolutely love these ads.

Art Director: Jennifer Perry

Client: Reckitt Benckiser

Print Ads

Penny: Being a Northern Californian, and being a woman….I love these.

Art Directors: Philip Borchardt, Phil Covitz, Amy Ferguson, Jason Stefanik, Megan Williams, Matthew Woodhams-Roberts

Client: Absolut


Editorial Photography

“Something Funny Down on the Pharm”

This story had to do with the growing of crops specifically for use for making medicines.  To assemble the pill cob, I had to find  hundreds of prescription pills, all of which were expired and left in the medicine cabinets of family and friends.”

Art Director: Hylah Hill; Design Director: Dirk Barnett

Client: Popular Science


I am constantly overcome by how often and readily women’s bodies are objectified in consumer advertising, so much more so than male bodies.  Of note, both the examples I chose were art directed by men.  This is not uncommon, at all.


Penny: I love Target, and I usually like their advertising, but could you see this corkscrew reversed and used to depict a man’s balls?  I thought not.

Print Ad

Penny: This is a print ad for a Canadian gourmet market, called Porky’s.  I know…..

All Images: Communicaton Arts

Tags: , ,

9 Responses to “For Your Consideration – Some Awesome (And Some Sexist) Art Direction”

  1. Jess Says:

    I am a SoCal girl born and raised. I remember being in elementary and kids thinking that California should be split into two states.

    The corkscrew ad is just disturbing.

    I want a bed like that with the trees!!

  2. SarahMC Says:

    Can you explain what, exactly, Art Direction means? I mean I get that it’s a creative job but what makes these Art Direction rather than plain ol’ “Advertising?”

  3. pennyplastic Says:

    Sarah, it’s advertising, I am just showing what I think to be great examples of art direction. ADs generally come up with “ideas” and guide them through conception and development. Involved in all of these projects you’ll usually have a creative director, who usually oversees the AD(s), then production/graphic artists, photographers, writers, etc.

  4. pennyplastic Says:

    Further, many times ADs do not have the technical skill set that a production/graphic designer will have, so they cannot execute their ideas without a team.

  5. SarahMC Says:

    Okay, that makes sense. Thanks!

  6. John (aspiringexpatriate) Says:

    Wait, so the ADs pitch the commercial concept to the directors, or the copy editors, who then write the scripts the directors shoot? I’m fairly interested in the commercial aspect of how advertising works. And I love a lot of those print ads-though I hate the Absolut ads, mostly cause the vodka is shite.

  7. linnyt Says:

    I guess I’m missing something on the target ad. I just got “ooo wine!” out of it. I don’t see upside-down balls at all.

  8. encnyc Says:

    I believe that “Art Directors” make the sets according to what the client or directors or ad agencies propose. Art directors basically set the scenes.

  9. encnyc Says:

    My personal fave is the pregnant man and the mother with the martini in hand (and, hopefully, mouth). I want to go there (circa 1990).

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