Interesting Article on What Art Buyers Want from PDN

Art Buyers Share Their Favorite Print And Online Sources
Aug 11, 2008

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By Sarah Coleman

Photographers seeking to make the leap from editorial work to advertising know how important it is to get their work seen by prominent art buyers. The question is, how to do that most effectively? In other words, where do art buyers go to see new photographers’ work? Are there magazines they look at regularly for inspiration? Galleries and agencies they visit? Or, in an increasingly virtual world, do Web sites and blogs reign supreme?

PDN asked four art buyers to address the questions above. The first thing we found, across the board, is that print magazines are still considered highly relevant. “I think print magazines are a great place to see new work, because you can see what established shooters are doing when they have a bit more freedom to create work within a brief,” says Julie Rosenoff, art production manager at Euro RSCG Worldwide in New York. Travis Quinn, head of art buying at Bartle Bogle Hegarty in New York, agreed, saying, “You’ll see some of the most stimulating work by photographers in editorial shoots, and it gives you a good sense of who that photographer is and where he or she could take the work.”

All of our respondents said they try to look at as many magazines as possible. “I feel like I go to the bookstores and magazine stands about once a month and pick up anything that has visually exciting work,” says Dan Southwick, executive print producer and art buyer at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners in San Francisco.

Favorite magazines named by our respondents were: The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Real Simple, W, Tokion, Blind Spot, Numero, Another Magazine, Monocle, Dwell and Aperture. Publications with annual contests or editorial sections that showcase up-and-coming photographers, like Communication Arts and PDN, were also cited, as were overseas fashion magazines. “I always pick up French Vogue, because it tends to be a bit more provocative and visually more compelling than where we are in the States,” says Quinn.

Whether these art buyers – and others – actually hire photographers based on editorial work was more open to question. “I haven’t awarded any jobs yet to photographers whose editorial work I liked, but I’ve definitely tracked down their Web sites and/or called in their books for review,” says Rosenoff. “I think that transition is more likely to happen with fashion,” says Quinn, who, like Rosenoff, says he’s never hired a photographer based on editorial work. “In fashion, it’s a given: you see something great in editorial and you know you could make a beautiful ad out of it. Other genres might be more conceptual, and you need to go with a known style.”

Alone among our respondents, Southwick says he’s recommended many photographers because of editorial work he’s seen. One recent example is photographer Thirza Schaap, who was hired to work on a campaign for Hewlett Packard after Southwick saw her work in Cookie; another photographer, Dean Kauffman, has been on several of Southwick’s shortlists lately because of work published in Dwell.

Don’t despair if you don’t happen to publish in W or Dwell every other month, though. Our respondents were all enthusiastic about new online venues for seeing photographers’ work, naming sites that ranged from upscale LeBook to populist Flickr. Quinn says he particularly likes the Web site, where users post their favorite images found on the Web. “It’s amazing and beautiful, you can find great stuff on there,” he says.

Art buying and editing blogs were also popular, with several respondents mentioning Rob Haggart’s Other favorites were, and Heather Morton Art Buyer ( “I like the immediacy of avisualsociety – all the information about movings, comings and goings,” Quinn admits. Suzee Barrabee of Goodby, Silverstein and Partners says she belongs to an online art producers’ forum that is “a wonderful group with a vast amount of experience and always good suggestions for artists.”

Real-world gallery-hopping, portfolio viewing and picking up the telephone hasn’t gone out of style, either. “I go to galleries and try to keep up with the fine art side of things, and I talk to reps, art directors, photographers or anyone who might turn me on to something interesting,” says Southwick. Barrabee adds that the agency invites artists’ agents in for weekly portfolio shows, which are “extremely helpful as it keeps us current on new work.”

All of our respondents agreed that, while unlikely that a single editorial assignment could land a photographer a major advertising campaign, it wasn’t out of the question. “You have to do the usual review of a potential photographer’s experience level and background, but editorial work can definitely lead to ad work,” says Southwick. Even a lack of experience isn’t always a deal-breaker, says Quinn, who admits to opening up every piece of email he receives from aspiring shooters. “I’m inundated and it takes forever to go through my email, but these are the new guys trying to break in, the ones with tons of energy and creativity,” he says. “If I see something visually amazing – well, why not call them?”


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