What Did Justine Barnes of Duncan Channon Think of Le Book Connections NYC?


When I saw Justine at Le Book Connections NYC, she and I chatted about the post we shared from Sascha Carillo about the value of attending these type of events.  She said she thought Sasha has shared some valuable insights, including the idea that it is important for art producers to attend and paricipate in these events in order for the events to be successful.  She also liked her idea that being present shows the creative community that as an agency you are out there buying photography and trying to produce the strongest creative you can produce.  Attending gives you a chance to talk about your own agency and what you are up to creatively.  There are not a lot of opportunities to do that and more art producers and agencies should recognize that value.

When I heard her say this, I realized that hearing the art producers point of view regarding Le Book Connections was far more relevant than me reposting why it was such a strong event.  Thank you Justine for that great idea.

Here is what Justine had to share with us about her experience.

Which Le Book events do you attend?  If you attend more than one, how do they differ?

I have attended Le Book LA (2011) and NY (2013). I found LA to be more formal, and NY to be more relaxed. I think this is due in part to LA being only a one-day show, and NY being a two-day show. I preferred the environment and attitude of NY. For me, I felt it focused more on the creative partnership and relationships with vendors. Whereas LA felt more about the immediate result – “what jobs do you have coming up that I can bid on?”

We all know that there are numerous vendors at Le Book and some would say that it could be overwhelming.  Do you agree with that?  Do you have a strategy to see the work and meet the agents?

At both events, I felt there was a good mix of vendors, but I can see where people can get overwhelmed. At LA, you have just one day to see everyone. It’s portfolio, after portfolio, after portfolio, after portfolio! I wasn’t able to see all the vendors because there just wasn’t enough time, but also, after a few hours it became mentally and physically draining. You see so much work, and after a while, your eyes need a rest (and so do your feet!). I liked NY for the very reason that you could go for a few hours, step out to get lunch and take a break, then return with fresh eyes. The best part was whomever you missed in day one, you could see in day two.

My strategy for seeing the work typically involves reviewing the list of vendors prior to the event, and making a list of the “must sees”. I always find at least a few vendors I have been a big fan of, but have never met in person or had the pleasure to work with. I make a point to seek those vendors out.

Besides introducing you to new talent, what are some of the other benefits to your agency of you attending?

Even though the San Francisco ad community is familiar with Duncan/Channon, not many people outside of SF have heard of us, or know the work we do. It’s important for me to attend these events to ensure vendors know we hire photographers and illustrators, and are committed to the partnerships we form with our vendors, as well as the creative we put out into the world. It is equally as important to inform people who don’t know about D/C who we are, what work we do, and what we are all about.

When you know an agent already, do you still stop by the booth?

Of course – absolutely! The beauty of the photography and illustration communities is that there are so many unbelievably talented people out there, but it also means I don’t work with the same vendors for every project. It is always lovely to see vendors you have worked with before, and see what new work they are doing.

Did anything stand out as original to you at the event?  Anything surprise you?

This event seemed to feature more illustration and graphic design artists than I previously saw. I think it’s a good indication of how the possibilities for executing campaigns is opening up, and we are beginning to look at non-traditional ways of communicating an idea.

There was one promo I thought was super clever. An artist created a paper cutout promo that showed a profile of the lower half of a dog when you looked at the paper portion, and then a profile of a dog’s head when you looked at the cutout area. The use of simple shapes, and positive and negative space was amazing.

Do you expect to discover new talent or get updated on talent that you are already familiar with at the event?

To a certain extent, yes. Le Book does a great job of introducing emerging vendors, so there’s always something new and interesting to see. For vendors I am familiar with, yes, I expect to see new work. I am one of those Content Producers who wants to see a majority of new work when you share a new portfolio with me. I know vendors are often restricted in what they can feature in their portfolios, and when they can share it. But when I see the same portfolio year after year, it becomes redundant and it looses my attention. After a while, I begin to expect to see the same old work, and the work isn’t as interesting any more.

Is there anything that would make the event stronger?

Larger booth tables! I know space is limited, but the tables were so small that books had to be piled on top of each other. It was difficult for more than one or two people to view books at the same time, and you didn’t know what work was hiding beneath the top book. Another possible solution would be to have group books vs individual portfolios for everyone, and then use iPads to review an individual’s work more thoroughly.

How do you share what you learned with your agency when you return home?

I save all the promos, and I also bookmark the sites of vendors I liked (if I don’t already have them). When a project comes up, I tap into those resources to find the right talent for what my Creative Director wants.

Did you notice any trends while you were reviewing?

A lot of vendors were featuring video. I have noticed that, while agencies are asking if vendors shoot video, not as many are actually hiring one vendor to do both. I am still seeing directors hired just for TV commercials, and photographers hired just for the still campaign. Not to say that there aren’t photographers who are talented directors out there (and vice versa), but it’s not as simple as picking up a video camera and hitting record, and it seems a lot of people want to work with vendors where that is their expertise. I am curious to hear from other Art Producers what their experience and opinion is on this!

I would also just like to say thank you to Le Book and all the vendors that exhibited! It takes a lot of work to put an event like this together, and there was a lot of great work to be seen. On behalf of the Art Producer community, we appreciate it!

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  1. Pingback: Are You Thinking About Attending Le Book Connections San Francisco? Please do! | Notes From A Rep's Journal

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