“Ancient Chinese Secret”, Huh?, Read how a penchant for collage, a love for family photo albums, and an unusually helpful HR Manager helped Julie Rosenoff find art buying.

In keeping with our Inside Art Buyer tradition, we reached out to Julie Rosenoff to see what path she took as an art buyer.  Currently, she is at Euro RSCG Worldwide as Manager of Art Buying but her resume boasts some of the greatest NY had to offer.  She is currently working on New York Life, Asus/Intel, Lysol, Finish, Resolve, Veet, Clearisil, Woolite and Claritin (just to name a few accounts!).  As you can imagine, her plate is full!  Yet, she still manages to stay inspired, be resourceful and provide her team with relevant creative direction.

When Alison McCreery of POP Blog  first sent me the interview to review for our post, I was immediately struck by Julie’s love and appreciation of old family photos.  It is special how she credits her parents for exposing her to still photography and how she still holds dear all her old family photos.  In the age of digital, this is rare.  I too, so appreciate all of the old photos in my life so it made reading what Julie shared all that more special. (link to a relevant post here).

Here is what Julie had to say:

Do you have a favorite photo of yourself that you are willing to share?  Can you tell us about it.

Yes.  The above image was taken back in the  80’s when I lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  It was a wonderful time in my life – when the world of possibilities lay before me.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be in Advertising. I knew from a very young age that this is what I wanted to do as a career. I loved watching TV and always enjoyed watching commercials!  But back then, I thought I’d be an Art Director.  I applied to FIT and majored in Advertising/Communications.

Once in college, I realized I didn’t want to pursue the Art Direction aspect of advertising, but I still wanted to work in that industry.  My first job was a part/time gig working at an agency called Rosenfeld Sirowitz Humphrey and Strauss.  I helped out in the accounting department, doing clerical work.  The job was completely mindless, but it gave me a sense of the energy and people that worked in an agency.  I loved it!   I received my Associates Degree from FIT and decided to join the workforce full-time.

My next job arrived at Wells Rich Greene, as an Administrative Asst. in Account Management. I can’t say I loved it either.  I knew I was not cut out for such a cut and dry type of job, dealing directly with Clients.  I knew I had to make a change. It wasn’t stimulating my creative side and I knew my skills and interests laid elsewhere.

I was fortunate enough to be able to speak freely to the head of Human Resources at the time (It was called Personnel back then!) I told her that Account Management wasn’t for me.  I needed something more creative.  She saw that I had a little bit of accounting experience and a desire to do something creative, and recommended me for a newly vacated position of Art Buying Assistant. I had no idea what Art Buying was.  But, in a short time, I realized that this was an exciting part of the advertising process.  I supported the Stock Photo Buyer and the Art Buyers.  I got to see what went into creating a print campaign.  Back then, photography was shot on neg or chrome film and retouching was done by hand.  Mechanicals were also done by hand.  The internet was fairly new and very few clients were creating advertising for that medium in 1991! I mean fax machines just came into play! I remember my first computer at work was one of those really small Macs that took floppy disks! My, how times have changed.

Over the next two decades, I moved up the ranks.  From Stock Photo Buyer at Wells Rich Greene, to Stock Photo Buyer at Ogilvy+Mather, to Art Buyer at Ammirati Puris Lintas.  Then to Bozell and to Euro RSCG Worldwide, where I still reside. I will celebrate my 12 year anniversary there in December.

Creative background/history?

I never studied photography, but have always been drawn to still images. I know it stems from the photos my parents took of me and my three siblings growing up.  They captured life events from the time we were babies and we each had our own photo album with every birthday celebration, first day of school, dance recital, little league game, school play, graduation, family vacation, etc.

The thoughtfulness and care that went in to capturing those precious moments is invaluable, and something I am very grateful that my parents did back then.  I would take out my photo album (we each had one that was all about us) and pore over each image; where was it taken, what were we wearing, what expression was on our face…. I still have that passion for that and still have that photo album in my possession.

Photography has remained an important part of my life.

How did you know in high school you wanted to work in advertising?

I think I knew what I wanted to do even before high school.  I loved commercials.

Some of the most memorable commercials from when I was little and still remember vividly were: Calgon (Ancient Chinese secret, huh?), Alka-Seltzer, (I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!) Breakstone, Charmin, Dunkin Donuts (Time to make the donuts). I wanted to be in that fun, creative world.

Earliest artistic interests?

In school, it was Paper Mache and paint. Three-dimensional pieces.

As I got older, I loved to make collages. I always collected things like travel mementos, matchbooks, lighters, pens, photos./images cut out of magazines. Each item held a sentimental value to me (kind of like photos, I guess).  I would collect all of this stuff and keep them in boxes. I decided to make collages with them so I could keep all these things and they would be in one place. I would glue everything with Mod Podge on a large posterboard canvas.  They became like time capsules on canvas for me, with each element telling a story.

Do you have any current collections?
Not really.  But if you ask my husband he would say I’m a packrat! I keep photos and sentimental items, but don’t have space for too many collections.

How do you describe your job to friends and family?

I set up photo shoots for still vs. moving. Producer. When you flip through a magazine, you see the ad, that’s what I do. All the time and effort that goes into making that picture, that’s what I do.

If you weren’t an art buyer what would you do?

I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a certificate to become a gemologist. Something that really appeals to me is the study of gems and being an expert on precious stones and antique jewelry. I absolutely love antique jewelry and have so much appreciation for the vision and creativity that went into making some of the old pieces I have seen and covet. They are works of art in their own way.

Just the other day, I had a thought that I could have gone to school for textile design. I absolutely love textiles and fabrics.  I guess it’s more of the illustration interest vs. photography.

How have your life experiences influenced your job choice?

I was fortunate enough to have the support of someone who understood what I was looking for in terms of a job and matched me with Art Buying.  I am still inspired and excited about what I do, all these years later.

What one word describes your working style?  Is it different than when you first started?

Many words.  Diplomatic. Enthusiastic. Collaborative. Trendspotter.

I’ve always had a knack (or is it good taste?) of identifying outstanding talent and sharing that with others.  I love my work more when I’m part of a team. I am an optimistic person.  I am a problem solver. I want to get the job done, done well AND have fun doing it!  When my creatives’ are happy, I am satisfied. And, coming in on budget is a must.

The only thing that is different from when I first started is I am much more self-assured.  Therefore, my decision-making skills are such that it takes a moment to answer most questions and have a viable solution to a work problem.

Do you have a personal aesthetic that comes through in the photographers whose work you are drawn to?

I know what I like when I see it. There’s not one thing.  It’s simply images that move me, evoke a feeling in me, no matter what it is. 

Trend or aesthetic you find inspiring right now?

Natural, real lifestyle.  Instagram-type photos.  At times, the imagery is less polished and more organic.  In terms of still-life, it’s stripped down, iconic imagery.

I am fortunate to have recommended some of the most amazing talent in this industry and have had the pleasure to work with them.  The most inspiring photographer we are working with now is Kenji Aoki.  His work is stunning.  It is incredible to watch a master at work as he creates art through photography.

What about the industry/your job is exciting right now?

Lines between traditional advertising mediums are blurred. We don’t talk in terms of TV and print anymore. It’s integrated and with these lines blurring, it’s creating new opportunities for us to delve into other areas like Digital media.  We’re not populating websites with crappy stock imagery anymore.  We are combining still and motion and learning new skill sets. The definition of an art buyer has changed and we must adapt, evolve and keep pace with all the new technology out there.  It’s exciting and a little intimidating too, because we are in the process of reinventing our jobs.

What do you love about your job?

I love the people I work with the most.  It’s them who make coming to work every day worthwhile.  I love being challenged to find the right talent for the project.  I enjoy researching the many possibilities of talent and sharing those people with my creative team.  It’s such a wonderful feeling when they come back to me with some amazing choices out of the people I have selected for them.

What is challenging?

We are increasingly challenged to get more for our clients for less; less time and less money.  The challenge is that the level of quality has to remain as high as it ever was.  Doing more with a lot less.

Where do you look for inspiration? Stay inspired?

I read a variety of magazines.  I follow some blogs, We have even created our own Art Buying Blog at work, where my department posts anything we feel is incredibly interesting and worthwhile sharing with the agency.  I am constantly meeting with photographers and agents and I review portfolios at various industry events.

What do you think is important to do in your personal time to keep you inspired at work?

I try to enjoy my personal time as much as possible.  The work doesn’t end when I walk out of the office –so, it’s important to me to detach as much as I can and enjoy the precious time I have with my family and in my home.  It’s very important to separate my work and home life.  I am so much more productive at work, when I’ve had a weekend doing anything not related to my job!

What at the moment do you see happening in the culture that you find inspiring or interesting?

With Social media, we’re exposed to the ‘hidden’ talents of so many. There’s an enormous wealth of talent and information out there that we never had access to before.  I mean, if you have a Facebook account, you can see these amazing photos or pieces of art that your friends have captured. Or be exposed to incredible exhibitions and installations from around the world.  It’s remarkable that you can share your talent with people you know and people you don’t know –and unknowingly influence others.

If you could change one thing in the creative industry right now, what would that be?

First is I would have a 4-day work week.  My day starts as soon as I get up and ends around 8pm.  Then, I would get rid of cost consultants!

I have always felt that they hamper the creative process.

Most art producers triple bid jobs and we’re all fiscally responsible and understand client needs. I feel the role of a Cost Consultant is unnecessary, and a seasoned Art Producer knows what things cost and what it takes to produce a quality, cost effective shoot.

If you could tell photographers one thing, what would it be?

Stay true to your craft. Keep shooting.

 On your home office walls?

A painting my parents bought in Italy back in the 60’s of a fisherman sitting on a wharf at sunset. It was hung in the living room of the house I grew up in and I have always loved the colors of that Italian sunset.


Favorite way to spend a Sunday?

Sleeping late. Breakfast with my family. Spending time with friends and preparing a nice meal together. Hanging out and eating basically.

One thing people reading this would find surprising about you?

I rarely watch TV now and used to be a TV junkie. I don’t have the time.

Creative hobbies or practices?

I don’t have a lot of time for personal hobbies.  I am out of the house for 12 hours each day and I have a 5 year old.  So, my free time is spent doing the things he likes to do.



Thanks for this opportunity.  It was fun.

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