Art Director & Lead Designer

What would you say is an adequate salary for a person who does ALL of the following:

  1. Product design (3-6 categories) for 5+ brands
  2. Product Photography for all products
  3. Website Management
  4. Catalog Design
  5. Trade-Show Prep
  6. Showroom Design

Design what? Apparel? Handbags? Footwear? Tabletop? etc…

1 Like

Physical goods. In this instance: belts, buckles, wallets, etc.

It depends a lot on the size of the company and the region of the country. In NY, the range for this sort of work would be anywhere from $90K to $250K; less, of course in other parts of the country.

An interesting thing about your job responsibilities is that they are highly varied. This makes me think you work for a smaller company where the salaries are likely lower.

Sorry if this ins’t helpful. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Depends on how many years of experience you have. If you tell me, i can give you an estimate. Is it a well known/company with licenses? Importer?

This forum is confidential (no names, no profiles). Feel free to name names. :wink:


Based on your list of responsibilities, I would guess that you work for a very small company. Most larger companies have very specific jobs for these different responsibilities. Unfortunately, while one would expect to make more $ based on all of the different responsibilities that you are handling, this is not usually the reality. I had a similar role at a very small manufacturer and made about $70,000/year after a promotion and increase from about $60,000/year. Smaller companies don’t generally have the means to pay more (which is why they only have 1 person doing all of these things). Your pay is also based a LOT on experience. Are you managing any direct reports? (ie - are you responsible for the career development and success of any other people within the business?) Are you making the final decisions and implementing the direction for all of these tasks? (in other words - are you just executing these tasks based on someone else’s direction? And is someone else making the final decisions on the outcome of your tasks? OR are you making all of the decisions about the direction of your tasks and the final output of your tasks?) You might notice that the high-paid people actually have WAY less tasks and use WAY more brain power. The brains behind the business are the ones that get paid the most - not the ones that are executing tasks being directed by others. If you are just executing tasks according to someone else’s direction and then making revisions and finalizing projects based on someone else’s approval, then your salary will reflect that. If you are the visionary who is coming up with all the ideas and direction for your projects and you are the one with the responsibility to make the final decisions - all of which will dramatically impact the business, then you should have a relatively high salary. Bottom line is that the busy-bodies get paid much less than the idea-generators/directors/final decision makers. Which, I must say, is based on experience. I know it can be frustrating, trust me, I’ve been there! But when you think about it the way I have explained it, it makes more sense. There is a LOT of pressure being the idea-generator/director/final decision-maker. I know! I’ve been there too! And when you get to that level, you can be fired if business is bad (because you made a wrong decision). The grass isn’t always greener. I commend you on your talents and skills that you are gaining experience in. Be thankful that you have that opportunity. You are building a GREAT portfolio!


Agree with the other commenters here about the assessment that having such varied responsibilities indicates that you probably work for a very small company.

I had a very similar position 2007/8, it was a wonderful experience for me because at this point in my career I have skills that very few other people have that worked in more specialized positions at larger companies. My salary at that point was around $80K and my list of responsibilities was almost exactly what you describe. If you’re in LA or NY you should be earning at least $90K for that list of responsibilities, esp. if you manage a team that helps you execute these tasks.

Of course that all depends on how profitable the company is, how good your relationship with the proprietors is, how much experience you have and how much management values the work that you or anyone in that position does.

If you’re not getting paid enough, use the job to build the portfolio you want and parlay that into a better paying position.


I currently make $44k. I was initially hired at $28k for product design alone. I have been here 8 years and have brought all product photography and catalog design in house because I have the skill set. I am a one woman art department, visionary and decision maker. I’m in Austin, TX.

What’s the annual sales of the combined brands you work on?

It is time to get the F*** out of there. Move to a city that can offer you more within this industry. Even at a small company/start up, you should be making at least 90K if not 120k with all of those responsibilities. Also that’s only a 2k living increase yearly… for being with a company that long you need to demand a more significant raise 10-16% and a title change.


Agree, get your portfolio together and start putting feelers out for a new job. I know with COVID it’s hard to think about leaving a job but you’re being extremely underpaid.

Thank y’all for confirming what I’ve been feeling for the past few years. I have been looking for a new job for over a year now. I have an extensive portfolio in design and photography, but all the job listings I find require UX/Motion graphics experience which is not my skill set. I’d ideally love to be working remotely designing and not have to go into an office at all as I do better working on my own schedule. The job market is so saturated right now, it’s very frustrating.


Wow. time to move on

1 Like