One of the most favorite series we publish is the Art Buyer Insider series. I have always been so interested in getting to know the person behind the producer. And, I love that so many are so open to answering our questions. Hannah Wolfert is a Senior Art Producer at inVentive Health in Ohio. She works remotely from her home in Portland, Oregon and works on accounts such as Eli Lilly Accounts including their US & Global Oncology accounts, Amgen (Prolia), UCB Pharmaceuticals, and Teva Pharmaceuticals and Endo Pharmaceuticals for their Newtown Office. I have worked with Hannah on a few projects and she is always so professional and easy to work with. I have always appreciated her support for our group so am happy to celebrate her here!
What was that first moment of inspiration when you knew you would work in a creative position?
When I was a kid I had an Aunt and Uncle that were Graphic Designers. They were also both very artistic and creative people. When I would stay with them they’d let me use their “smelly markers” and draw whatever I wanted. It was awesome. I knew then that I wanted to be like them and do something creative in my life.
Growing up, what were your creative interests?
I’ve always loved photography and art. I would flip through fashion magazines, National Georgraphic, and art & photo books. I just loved looking at the images and seeing the world and how other people lived and were creative.
Did you ever consider becoming a photographer yourself?
I suppose when I first started studying photography in college I wanted to be the next Annie Leibovitz or Richard Avedon, but after working as an intern for a local commercial photographer, I quickly learned what the business was about and decided then that wasn’t the path for me.
Being an art producer at an ad agency is such a unique position. You do not really learn about it in college and many tend to discover by means of another job. How did you discover what the role entails and how did you know you wanted to hold this position.
Hmmm, good question …I think I kind of just stumbled upon it. I had an inkling of what an art producer did when I coordinated internal photo shoots during the years I worked for McGraw-Hill. But coordinating photos shoots of lab experiments for science books and “conversations” for Spanish books is a lot different than what I do now. When I interviewed for the job I have now and was told about what I would be doing, what the job entailed, I thought to myself “yeah..that’s exactly what I’ve always really wanted to do”. I think I always had a curiosity of how a photo shoot came together and how the images were made, but I never really knew that was a career until somebody spelled it out for me. Then it was EUREKA! I really wish art schools & other art & photo college programs would offer more classes about the business of photography. I loved working in the dark room and taking pictures, but I never really thought I was going to parlay that into a career as a photographer. Had I learned in college about the other roles in the business of photography, I would have come into this career a lot sooner.
What previous jobs have you held that you think helped prepare you for this career?
I’ve held various jobs within the industry. I’ve been a photo assistant. I worked in a pro lab (when people still developed film!). I’ve worked as a photo researcher in the stock industry. I’ve been a project manager for a small design agency and I worked in publishing for 6 years as well. I think all of those jobs have given me the skills & the knowledge that I need for the job that I do today.
How do you describe your job to a family member or someone else not in our industry?
“I coordinate photo shoots” . And even distilling it down to that I still get strange, confused looks.
What one thing has changed in the industry since you have started that you think makes for a better production experience?
Well, for better or worse, I guess the internet, and digital photography. I remember as an assistant loading film backs, pulling Polaroids, and dropping off bags of film after a shoot. You shot it all in camera, not in plates that are pieced together now. Working as a stock photo researcher, I remember hovering over drawers and drawers of transparencies to ship out to clients. And as a photo editor in publishing, I remember receiving those slides and guarding them with in an inch of my life so as not to lose one and risk the heavy fines. There are things that I miss about the analog world, but the digital age has made the process a lot quicker, easier and much more accessible. Everything you need now is right at your fingertips. If we need some kind of specific prop for a photo shoot, it’s easy to find and have it the next day. I can download high res comps in a matter of seconds. Sadly though, everything being so accessible and easy to get also means timelines have shrunk and clients don’t understand why it still takes time to properly produce a photo shoot — why it just doesn’t happen overnight.
What do you love about your job? What is the most challenging?
I really do love most everything about my job, when I think about it. I love seeing all the nuts and bolts come together. I love seeing a simple sketch and figuring out how to make it a reality for my creative teams. Finding the right photographer for the job. Working with a great production team and in the end, seeing great images. Even when working with stock photography – I really just want to help my creative teams find great images for their projects. The most challenging….having to tell a rep or a photographer that they didn’t get the job. I hate being the bearer of bad news!
What one thing would you want someone looking to hire an art producer should know about the skills needed to get the job done?
I think it’s important to find somebody who knows the industry from both sides…somebody who understands the job and the business from the agency side, what the agency needs are and how to fulfill them, but also understands what the photographer brings to the table. What he or she deals with on their side to produce great photography as well. If you can understand the needs of both, it makes for a stronger team effort and a much more enjoyable experience overall.
What are you known for in your neck of the woods?
My wicked Zombie Fighting skills.
Favorite way to spend a Sunday?
Sleep in. Brunch. Walk in the neighborhood. Play with my dog. Game of Thrones.
Make-up! Hahaha. When I started working from home 3 years ago, especially living on the West Coast and working East Coast hours, my appearance and hygiene started to take a back seat to my workload and the rest of life that was going on during the day. I quickly learned that I needed a very regimented schedule that included a shower and putting on normal clothes (not yoga pants!). More recently I’ve kicked it up a notch and started to wear make-up again, more so than just mascara. I know it sounds silly, but feeling clean and put together really does help me to be productive, focused and able to tackle anything that will come my way during the day.