Want to know what our artists think makes a great art director?

I recently asked our artists what they think makes a great art director. What kinds of things help artists thrive and do their best work? Read on to see their responses!

Contact us to assign or license–we’re happy to help!


Anke Rega

Fully illustrated biography of Anne Frank (Penguin Random House)
Buy it here

Lilla: Anke, can you tell us what makes a great art director?

Anke: I like it if I get inspiration from the AD but then have the freedom to create and can feel free to reach out if I need to–like having a frame for a project but freedom within it. If an AD wants changes I like it if they say something like, “this looks great already but could you change this or this?”

I think it’s important that the Art Director is available when you’re in the middle of a project so that you don’t have to wait too long for the answer, so you can keep working right away.

Lilla: Can you give us an example of a comment by an art director that was especially meaningful to you?

Anke: For the Anne Frank book I mostly worked with the designer Janene Spencer. After we finished the project, she wrote an email to me. One thing she wrote, was that I’m an amazing person to work with. It made me so happy and proud to read this. The AD Alice Todd has been so nice too. Always so kind in her words and thanking me so much for my work. I loved it as it was a lot work and it gives you a really good feeling during the project if everyone is being so kind and thankful. I’m the same the other way round as I like this vibe so much and it makes all our days just so much nicer.


Sarah PapworthPart of a series of illustrations for an article on the 2019 fitness and nutrition forecast for The Washington Post. These were done with a mixture of pencil lines and watercolor.

Lilla: Sarah, what things are most important to you when working with an art director? What makes an art director great in your book?

Sarah Papworth: Friendliness is probably number one. And good organisation for a project, especially if it’s a long project. For me, these two things really help with making a job enjoyable and less stressful.

Lilla: What do you enjoy most about working with art directors? How do you find it beneficial?

Sarah: It’s fun working with different art directors, as I learn so much from their vast knowledge and experience in their field. And it’s wonderful working towards an idea/vision together. I always feel grateful for their help in getting a piece to look it’s best. Sometimes you can’t see the changes that are needed in your own work, so a fresh pair of eyes is amazing. It’s definitely a team effort.

It was great working with Victoria Fogg at the Washington Post on the Local Living pull-out cover (above). Victoria had seen my portfolio and knew which direction she wanted to go with, and that she wanted to feature the little people in the illustration. My style is quite flexible, and I use a lot of different mediums, so having the art direction and a brief to work to means I can be focused, but also play around within those borders.

One of the many illustrations by Sarah Papworth for the fully-illustrated text
I Know A Woman by Kate Hodges (Quarto Group)
Buy it here

Above: This was a much longer project, 84 illustrations in total, with a tight deadline. Working with Melissa Hookway at Quarto on my first book was a brilliant experience for me. I learnt to work quicker, and how to keep up the pace and enthusiasm working through a long project.

Melissa was super-organised. She created a spread sheet to track our progress, and gave me briefs for each portrait, which meant I could really focus on drawing and getting the illustrations to look as good as possible in a short amount of time.


Jennifer M Potter

Cover of the Weekend/Going Out Guide for The Washington Post

Lilla: Jennifer, what makes a great art director?

Jennifer: I love it when an art director takes the time to provide critical feedback and challenges me to do my best work. We’re a team with a shared goal of making an amazing product. It’s great when we can collaborate on something we’re both really proud of!


Katie Vernon

Katie Vernon for Anthropologie

Lilla: Katie, what did you like about working with your art director at Anthropologie?

Katie: I love when an AD has a unique vision for turning my illustration into a beautiful product.



I hope you enjoyed the show! Want great art for your project? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be delighted to assist you with any of your art needs. Get to know us here!
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Founder, Lilla Rogers Studio
Co-Founder, Make Art That Sells courses
P. S. Read what our clients have to say about working with our agency here!


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