Creativity is a way of life…but making creativity into a living can seem daunting — particularly when you don’t have an educational or professional background in art. If you are a non-professional artist who is eager to turn your artistic talents into a career, you’ve come to the right place. Together, Artrepreneur and Creative Circle have put together this comprehensive article series to support budding artists in the early stages of their art careers. In this article series, you’ll find valuable information on building and maintaining a career in the creative space. We cover topics including career paths, preparing for interviews, using social media to grow your footprint, networking, and much more. Both Creative Circle and Artrepreneur are committed to being here for you throughout your career.
Want to work full-time for a creative agency but aren’t sure which is right for you? Here we break down the different types of firms, agencies, and design companies so that you can make an informed decision that makes the most sense for you!
There are many ways to work as a creative; for those who want to join an organization full-time, there are various routes you can take.
Agencies have evolved from the iconoclastic Mad Men days, with roles and positions less defined, though hierarchies still hold. Today, a creative agency can be any number of things and is primarily determined by what they offer their clients. For some, a particular specialty sits at the heart of the firm, like motion graphics or web design, whereas at other companies, there is a more full-service offering encompassing copywriting, design, animation, video, and more.
Today, agencies and design firms come in many shapes and sizes. Here, we break down the different options to help you understand the best path for your creative skillset.
An ad agency is focused on marketing, advertising services, and strategies — and often works with specialist partners to build technology or other complex designs. They are hired by corporations, governmental agencies, brands, non-profits, and more to ideate, produce, and manage advertisements and paid promotional campaigns in different mediums — and recommend the best ways a business can reach its audience. Advertising agencies may or may not have a design or digital team in-house and often hire freelancers and collaborate with design agencies.
Top Advertising Agencies
Digital agencies create and design digital products and platforms, focusing on technology and strategy, with less emphasis on marketing and advertising. They are all about maximizing the use of digital screens to reach audiences, providing strategy, creative, and technical development chops for screen-based products and services.
Channels may include websites, social media, paid targeted online advertising, and email marketing. They may also provide website development, search engine advertising, SEO strategy (search engine optimization), and e-commerce related consulting services. These agencies are well-versed in the best practices for each digital platform and can advise on the most effective way to spread digital spending across digital channels. Generally, however, digital agencies only bring on-screen expertise. For a more comprehensive marketing approach, there are full-service digital agencies.
Top Digital Agencies
Top Digital Product Agencies
FULL-SERVICE DIGITAL AGENCY
Full-service digital agencies offer all the expertise of digital agencies but also have a dedicated team that can provide a complete creative approach to a brand and campaigns, inclusive of advertising and marketing. They excel at executing complex projects that require many disciplines.
Top Full-Service Agencies
CREATIVE AGENCY / DESIGN AGENCY
A creative agency slash design firm is focused on creative content development and production, bringing a high level of creativity across multiple platforms, concentrating primarily on graphic design for digital and print. They typically work with external partners like ad agencies, consultants, or engineers, and offer digital and print design services, along with branding, interior, and product design. Often, a creative or design agency will have a printing service in-house but may not have the expertise to execute the campaigns they design.
Top Design Agencies
INTERACTIVE DESIGN AGENCY
Interactive design agencies primarily focus on web design and other technological and internet-based product and design development, developing and designing apps, games, and other interactive products. They are hired to create digital experiences which blend great design, innovative technology, and multimedia content. Interactive design agencies work with advertising agencies and consultants to deliver on complex components of large digital projects, leaning more into design and technology than strategy and advertising, with deep expertise in motion graphics design, animation, and video.
Top Interactive Agencies
DESIGN INNOVATION AGENCY
These design firms specialize in using design to solve “big” problems, designing and developing large-scale products and in-house platforms with big, complicated strategies and lots of planning. Pairing industry knowledge and deep insights with design thinking (LINK), design innovation agencies create some of the most innovative ideas, products, and services. With a focus on strategy and design, these firms include nearly all services to prototype and build their concepts.
Top Design Innovation Agencies
Branding agencies focus on the creation or refresh of brands. They generate more than a name, logo, or unique font type — providing the creative visual style, strategic message, and strategy to build your brand and maintain its consistency. A brand is a reputation, perceived value, and presence of your product or service in the marketplace. Branding agencies vie to understand your product from all angles, from target customers, competitors, the best language to use that appeals to your audience. They typically provide a brand and style guide, along with visual assets, but then leave the rest of the marketing to the brand as they may not be experts at executing a campaign launch and what comes after it.
Top Branding Agencies
IN-HOUSE CREATIVE AGENCY
Sometimes the design firm is not a separate agency but rather housed within a brand or company. These in-house marketing centers of excellence have all the functions of a typical design and marketing agency, with teams with Creative Directors, Art Directors, Copywriters, Strategists, and more — all assembled in the service of working exclusively for one client.
Crafting your creative career can follow several trajectories — the more you understand the options available to you, the more equipped you’ll be to make beneficial decisions for your personal career path.
This article was co-created by Creative Circle. Creative Circle is an award-winning recruiting and consulting company representing digital, creative, and marketing professionals. Our job is to make your job easier, whether you’re hiring, building a team, or searching for your next role. Together, we can solve your biggest challenges. Special thanks to Melissa Rogers, Senior Brand Manager of Creative Circle.
An award-winning creator and digital health, wellness, and lifestyle content strategist—Karina writes, produces, and edits compelling content across multiple platforms—including articles, video, interactive tools, and documentary film. Her work has been featured on MSN Lifestyle, Apartment Therapy, Goop, Psycom, Yahoo News, Pregnancy & Newborn, Eat This Not That, thirdAGE, and Remedy Health Media digital properties and has spanned insight pieces on psychedelic toad medicine to forecasting the future of work to why sustainability needs to become more sustainable.