Welcome Back to the Community Table: Agents in Conversation with Chicago Art Producers. Main Course Part 2

2Welcome to our 4th series of posts where we share the results from our conversations held directly with community leaders about top of mind photo-industry issues.  Community Table was formed from the collective efforts of Matt Nycz and Kate Chase of Brite Productions and Heather Elder and Lauranne Lospalluto of Heather Elder Represents with the idea that there is nothing more powerful in our industry than education.

With the founding of Lord & Thomas, the city of Chicago would put itself on the advertising map in 1881. Beginning as a space broker for newspapers and magazines, L&T evolved slowly into an agent for advertisers. By the early 1900s, L&T was the third-largest agency in the U.S., creating advertising for blue-chip clients such as Sunkist, Van Camp, Quaker Oats and Goodyear.

And while we can’t tell you when the first art buyer job was created and at which Chicago agency, we can tell you that we recently had the pleasure of having 8 of the City’s finest art buyers join us at the Community Table.

While we also know that we must keep an eye on what’s ahead, we believe it is equally important to have a strong understanding of the past – it really wasn’t that long ago that we were mailing, Fedexing, and faxing estimates around, calling agencies to ask for creative lists and actually picking up the telephone to get things done.  So with all these beliefs in mind, we came up with our roundtables topic:  “The Art Producer, Past, Present and Future”. 

And with that, we welcome you back to Community Table, Chicago.

 As a reminder, each Conversation Starter was directed to one person with a general discussion ensuing.  Rather than sharing the entire conversation, we included the original question and then the quotes and notes that were most relevant.  Please note, often times the person leading the conversation spoke most often.

And with that, we welcome you back to the table.

Please note, there will be 7 posts shared over the next few weeks.  Tune in every Tuesday and Thursday for the latest installments.  

Chicago Participating Art Producers

Karen Blatchford/Executive Art Producer DDB

Liz Miller-Gershfeld/VP, Senior Art Producer Energy BBDO

Antoinette Rodriguez/Art Producer mcgarrybowen

Meghan Pearson/Senior Art Buyer Ogilvy

Emily Hoskins/Art Buyer Upshot

Sheryl Long/Art Producer Y&R

Lisa Kunst/Producer Leo Burnett

Ken Zane/Producer Leo Burnett

______________________________

 7

CONVERSATION STARTER:  Where do you think Art Production is headed in the future?  (be sure to review previous posts for the start of the conversation)

Ken Zane/Producer Leo Burnett

Haven’t you already noticed a change with photographers you represent? Traditional photographers have all moved to incorporating motion into their body of work.

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

There was a panic moment when photographers all heard that they had to do motion. They were hearing it from all directions including from clients. And because of that, a lot of photographers shared work prematurely that was not at the level of their print work and that was doing them a disservice.

The broadcast art producers were used to looking at high-end work and when photographers put up work with camera-shake, it wasn’t helping their transition..

Sheryl Long/Art Producer Y&R

It’s similar to the switch from film to digital. There were so many people fighting it. And, now there are photographers fighting video in the same way.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

I think we are at a point now that if a photographer has decided not to add video to his or her capabilities, then they partner with a DP who can be part of the team.

Liz Miller-Gershfeld/VP, Senior Art Producer Energy BBDO

This is the smart move. If you’re not called to do this, then have a solution. If it’s not your talent or interest then find someone you can partner with.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

I do think that the urgency around video has quieted down some.  Photographers that embraced video have already done so. Those  that have not have either partnered with a DP or chosen to not include it with their capabilities.  Now the conversations are less about whether you can or cannot shoot video and more about how will the assets be used.  Clients were hiring photographers to shoot video and had no plan for the assets. It worked well when everyone was learning but now the process is more sophisticated and clients have found needs to their assets so the shoots are more specific and intentional. 

Liz Miller-Gershfeld/VP, Senior Art Producer Energy BBDO

The savvy production companies are calling themselves content production studios. And under one roof they have graphic artists, still photographers videographers, writers and bloggers. It’s a content studio.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

So, seeing how deep you are in this new content world,  do you still find that there is use for photography?

Group

Absolutely. Print is not dead by any means.

Sheryl Long/Art Producer Y&R

CG has limitations. It can’t capture the reality of the situation and people interacting with a product.

Liz Miller-Gershfeld/VP, Senior Art Producer Energy BBDO

Clients are still buying print media. But they’re looking at the media mix in different ways and expecting the print to support their digital presence and their interactive content to support both. It’s just a different mix.

Now when we do a photo shoot, it’s no longer just a print shoot. We have to work with partners; POS and digital agencies. And everyone has asset lists they need us to capture. And everyone has international counterparts. And they all want in perpetuity usage.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

And you must be getting solicited from all the different content providers.

Unattributed

Thousands a day. My next plan is to get IT to set up a separate email for promos.

Lisa Kunst/Producer Leo Burnett

It would be nice to have one separate email address that I could scroll through when I had time.  Currently, I have email folders archived in categories for photographers, directors, CGI, etc. And I look when I have time.

Sheryl Long/Art Producer Y&R

But don’t click on them because you’ll get a call 30 minutes later. I open the web link and google their name. If you click, they know who has looked and then they call you.

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

We would never, ever call someone.

Liz Miller-Gershfeld/VP, Senior Art Producer Energy BBDO

The truth is it’s just a little unsophisticated. But we are buyers.  We get that we need to be solicited.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

The challenge for us is that we don’t have many opportunities to get feedback from you these days. When we used to send you portfolios, we would hear who else was sending their ins or you would call us to tell us the book was coming back or give us an update on the review.  Now, you just review the sites so we no longer know when we are being considered for a project.  It is all a bit anonymous.  The emailers, even though they are annoying, allow us to see who at least is looking and help us to be more targeted in our connections.

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

You used to call in 40 books and we knew we were in the running for a job with client X. Now we only know when we enter the triple bid.  And because of that we have less feedback to share with our photographers.

Liz Miller-Gershfeld/VP, Senior Art Producer Energy BBDO

Exactly. You may be one of our pre-bids and show you to the client.  But then maybe we narrow it down to three and you aren’t in the mix any longer but the CMO did see your work and you just wont’ know.

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

It helped us and our photographers know what type of clients were interested in their work or type of image and they knew they were moving in the right direction. And now this type of information doesn’t get to them. That is the biggest disconnect for us.

Liz Miller-Gershfeld/VP, Senior Art Producer Energy BBDO

Missing that feedback is a real shame. But I have to say personally that I used to have 40 – 60 portfolios in my office at a time. And I was doing it alone. The resouces I needed back then were to be friends with the mailroom because that was really awful. Every morning I’d wake up and think “I have to ship today.” It’s very nice not to have to do that anymore. That was a big time suck.

Emily Hoskins/Art Buyer Upshot

Brian Fink sent me an email because I follow him on Instagram, Tumbler, Facebook…and he emailed me if I wanted to see his book and I said “yes.”  Because I followed him on social media, I knew it would be full of glitter, college co-eds and cheerleaders.  I was really excited about it.

And while I had it in the office, I wanted to share it with someone so called Antoinette. It’s just great to have an actual book. It’s the first one I’ve had in months. I knew it would  be a hassle to receive it, be responsible for it and then return it but it was worth it.  I am not sure I would feel that way if we returned to the old way though.

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

When you see the work on an iPad or website it can be limiting. The book says more about the photographer in terms of how they choose to present their work. It shares their personality and aesthetic.

Liz Miller-Gershfeld/VP, Senior Art Producer Energy BBDO

I have to say that the iPad is a bit old school and new school.  It’s like looking at transparencies.

Sheryl Long/Art Producer Y&R

Recently a rep came into town  and had a 20” iPad basically. It was impressive.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

I just had some promos delivered and just the smell of ink on paper was so nice.

Sheryl Long/Art Producer Y&R

In our new office space, we don’t have offices and I still have such a hard time recycling promos. I have to purge everything.

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

An art director friend of mine is using Evernote which allows you to take a photo, keyword and file it.

 Liz Miller-Gershfeld/VP, Senior Art Producer Energy BBDO

Now I donate them to Columbia College. They have a promo library for their photography students.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

Switching gears for a second, we have a question about LeBook Connections. They seem to be evolving to include more creative content  and less  photography. Do you go to a tradeshow now about content? Where does photography fit?

Sheryl Long/Art Producer Y&R

I think it depends on your focus. 

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

The challenge on our side is that it’s now a mix of every vendor under the sun. Production houses, digital. They didn’t do it in Chicago, but in New York we’re exhibiting alongside production companies and digital and CGI and hotels. We’re paying to be there and we’re getting marketed to by other exhibitors.

Liz Miller-Gershfeld/VP, Senior Art Producer Energy BBDO

I went in New York and all the vendors were there and it was overwhelming and I couldn’t take it all in. This year in Chicago it was all in the same space, even the presentations. I had one hour and didn’t realize there was a mandatory panel discussion. I didn’t have time to look at books.

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

It was more low-key in Chicago last year and showed agency books. It was a nice environment. No one was dominating. And it was focused so everyone was relevant and you could do the room in two hours. NY and LA are overwhelming.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

Would you go to a mini print show?

Sheryl Long/Art Producer Y&R

Yes, there’s a smaller roadshow produced by three reps out of Chicago and it works well.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

Everything is coming back to relationships and trust and being genuine and partnering and finding out what people value. Maybe the LeBook’s of the world aren’t the place to foster those relationships. And we need to find other ways to not bombard you with emails and connect with each other in a meaningful way.

Karen Blatchford/Executive Art Producer DDB

I repped prior to being an art producer and I understand the value of the dollar and if I had X amount of money to spend would I want to spend that money on one day at a large show or over a week at individual meetings. LeBook is a big investment. They want us to invite our creatives, but they were charging people for drinks at the cocktail hour.

Tune in next time for more information about the evolution of the art producer over the years and how important the relationship between art producers and account executives have become.  To see previous Community Tables posts from Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City  please link here.

And, as always, thank you  Allison McCreery of POP Blog for your flawless transcription and partnership on this project.

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2 thoughts on “Welcome Back to the Community Table: Agents in Conversation with Chicago Art Producers. Main Course Part 2

  1. Pingback: Welcome back to the Community Table: Agents in Conversation with Chicago Art Producers: The Main Course, Part 2 | POP | Photographers on Photography

  2. Pingback: Community Table: Chicago Art Producers, The Main Course, Part 2 | POP | Photographers on Photography

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