Welcome Back to the Community Table: Agents in Conversation with Chicago Art Producers. The Aperitif.


3Welcome 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



6CONVERSATION STARTER:  On where the title Art Producer originated and a summary of the industry in one word. (To start from the beginning of the conversation, link here.)

Ken Zane/Producer Leo Burnett

I don’t know if everyone has seen this, but the documentary Bert Stern: Original Madman came out about about six months ago. He started in a magazine mailroom and worked himself up to become an art director and then became a photographer.

In the 50s’ and 60’s most imagery was illustrated and photographers just started shooting ads. The people who were responsible for setting up invoices were the “art buyers.” With the 60’s and 70’s it shifted to photography and art buying was born.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

So now the title of the future is Art Producer or will it change again?

Lisa Kunst/ Producer Leo Burnett

I think it will be Content Producer. Art Producer has been around since 2000. I think it will be either Content Producer, just Producer or Integrated Producer.

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

You guys were the first to introduce this. It took four or five years.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

Because now you have to have a large skill set that includes Experiential, Photography, Illustration, Art Buying, Usage, Retouching, Motion, Broadcast, Digital, Blogging…

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

In terms of creative expectations, are you expected to know resources in all these areas or can you ask for a day

Lisa Kunst/ Producer Leo Burnett

For certain projects, the people who need certain digital capabilities will call upon a digital producer or will go to our second floor, Leo Burnett Interactive.  Everyone has their expertise and if someone came to me for photography, illustration, CGI or retouching, I would be able to provide vendor suggestions.

Matt Nycz/Brite Productions

In an area where you have a department where people are doing different things, is it known and accepted that some people have different expertise?

Lisa Kunst/Producer Leo Burnett

We now have a production consultant department and some of the producers have moved into that department. And some of the new producers who might not have that expertise they can go consult with  them. If there’s not someone on your aisle, there is someone in that department who can help source.

Kate Chase/Brite Productions

Are you responsible for the full deliverable on all content i.e., experiential?

Lisa Kunst/Producer Leo Burnett

Yes, absolutely. The only exception is that the digital department handles all the code and delivery. But we manage the production with them. This is interesting because they are new and learning the process as well. Learning about copy editors, etc. For the most part, everybody is supposed to be helping each other.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

Keeping in mind everything we just talked about, let’s go around the table and sum up in one word what you think of the state of the industry right now.

Emily Hoskins/ Art Buyer Upshot

Keeping with tonight’s theme, I’m going to go with integrated. Specifically, new-media asks like guerilla marketing or YouTube take-overs. It’s again putting value to all of those things.

Lisa Kunst/ Producer Leo Burnett

Exciting for sure. I think it is so exciting. It’s new. It’s something new every day. It’s growth and it’s learning. It is integrated of course, but it is exciting.

Karen Blatchford/ Executive Art Producer DDB

Changing. What works today may not work tomorrow. So it’s about being flexible. Changing hats. Getting creative.

Sheryl Long/ Art Producer Y&R

I’d say evolving. Every time I look at a book for CG artists, I’m amazed at what they can do. It’s mind-blowing.

Meghan Pearson/ Senior Art Buyer Ogilvy

Instantaneous. Things are needed right-now and you have to be on top of it and ready and willing to do it.

Ken Zane/ Producer Leo Burnett

Challenging. But in a great way. And exciting way.

Antoinette Rodriguez/ Art Producer mcgarrybowen

I was going to say evolving, but it goes back to everything is digital and everything is changing. I think every day is different. You expect one thing when you leave the office at night and the next morning, everything is different. You’re never walking into the same thing, the same job.

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

Intersectional. Multiple disciplines are brought together. Different cultures are brought together. Everybody is coming from a different place and going in a different direction. But we all meet at these points to make things.



Thank you to everyone who stuck in there and read all of our posts.   We hope that you found them helpful. To start from the beginning of this conversation, please link here.   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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