Celebrating Art Producers. This Time, With Christopher Grimes of Olson.

So often people want to know the story behind the photographer or the creative on a project, but what about the art producer?  Art production is such an interesting job to say the least. The people I know in this position come from such rich and diverse backgrounds and rarely do they follow the same path to become one.  Understanding this, I thought it would be fun to start a series of interviews with art producers that don’t just address how to get their attention, but instead celebrate the art producer but for who they are, where they came from and what is important in their life.

Thank you Christopher Grimes for agreeing to be next in our series.  Christopher is not just a Senior Integrated Art Producer at Olson in Minneapolis.  He is a dear friend.  We have stalked Brittany Spears together while she was checking into a hotel in Minneapolis, sat at The Community Table together and had some of the most honest conversations in advertising I have ever had.  I will always remember and appreciate the time he hosted me at his house for dinner one night and shared with me old family photos and we talked about all things not advertising.

Here is what he had to say:

What was that first moment of inspiration when you knew you would work in a creative position?
I never had a moment that I knew I would be in a creative position. I just kind of fell into it via a reception job, which became the first step towards my career in Art Production.

Growing up, what were you creative interests?
I loved drawing floor plans and building those designs with blocks and Lincoln Logs. I also coveted my sister’s dollhouse and furniture. Often, it was a marriage of blocks, logs and dollhouse furniture populated by Thundercats and GI Joes figures.

Did you ever consider becoming a photographer yourself?
No, most of the photographers that I love seem to have a cohesive point of view and when I look at my Instagram, I definitely don’t have one. At least to be a commercial or fine art photographer that is. In high school, I took photography classes and even managed to win a couple blue ribbons in a local contest…that is the extent of my profession photography career.

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.
I fell into advertising through a receptionist job at a design firm. From there, I moved into a junior account management position, and next, I worked as an agent for photographers/illustrators. For two years, I faxed (15 versions) of an estimate and lugged a suitcase with 100 lbs. of portfolios until I realized I wanted to lead the glamorous life of an art producer (this was the 90’s after all). What I didn’t know from repping, I learned on-the-job and with the help of my first manager, Louise Malmin, at JWT in Chicago.

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What previous jobs have you held that you think helped prepare you for this career?
Well, it wasn’t my high school job…a host at Chili’s. Though, I suppose high school and college did prepare my liver for a career in advertising.

How do you describe your job to your mother or someone else not in our industry?
I say that I’m a project manager for the art or video portion of an advertising project. They usually scratch their heads so I’ll find a magazine with an ad and explain the process starting with “The client comes to the agency because they need to sell more pumpkin pie filling” or something similar to that.

What one thing has changed in the industry since you have started that you think makes for a better production experience?
Well, obviously the Internet has done an amazing job at being able to make production faster and more convenient.

What do you love about your job?  What is the most challenging?T
hat’s easy- BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS! I love all my photographer, agent and agency friends.

Most challenging? I guess not always being able to be totally transparent about projects (i.e. budgets, timelines, competition, etc.). Often times I don’t know or due to privacy agreements that we’re not allowed to disclose the information. I’ve always been an open book in all aspects of my life so it feels odd when I can’t tell a friend everything they want/need to know.

What one thing would you want someone looking to hire an art producer to know about the skills needed to get the job done?
Make the rounds and don’t sit at your desk too much.

What are you known for in Minneapolis?
Making a great gin & tonic and making friends. And when I’m feeling generous, making my friends gin and tonics.

Favorite way to spend a Sunday?
Great question! I start by watching CBS Sunday Morning. Then I go grocery shopping and run errands for a few hours. Next, and depending on the season, I either cook and watch TV all day (fall/winter) or have Sunday Funday with friends (spring/summer).

Latest Discovery?
Clementines that are delicious way after December, Broad City, jalapeno margaritas and how much I enjoy bird watching in my backyard.

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