To art direct is to oversee external creative - such as photo-shoots, animation and illustration - to ensure all output is on brand.
Art direction is the management of a team of designers, or designer, on a creative project. These projects can be quite wide ranging - from fashion shoots and food styling to editorial layouts and theatrical prop displays.
As well as the subject matter varying, so too can the degree of responsibility and autonomy involved in the project itself. So art direction is not necessarily what you direct, but the process of how you do this in order to achieve your desired result.
At Polleni, art direction is an important part of our branding process. We always offer brands we work with advice on how to style or commission any future company photography or illustration, for example, as it is so integral to a consistent visual identity and tone-of-voice.
In a nutshell - to art direct is to unify the vision of a brand and all its output.