The Path to Art Production is Always Varied. Link9’s Olga Zeltser Shares Which Way Her Path Took Her and Some Valuable Insights.

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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 host a series of interviews with art producers that doesn’t just address how to get their attention, but instead celebrate the art producer for who they are, where they came from and what is important in their life.

Thank you Olga Zeltser  for agreeing to be part of this series.  Olga is an Art Producer at Link9 LLC .  Working with Olga on projects is always professional and respectful.  She has an appreciation for the process and is a strong communicator so it feels like a true collaboration when we partner with her and her team.

Here is what she had to say:

Not all art producers take the same path to their job.  Where did yours start and how did you end up as at art producer at Link 9?
My exposure to the creative world began at School of Visual Arts, where I studied photography.  I made sure to explore as many niches of the industry as possible – assisting, art gallery administration, photo researching and later, art buying, art direction, studio management, digital tech-ing and retouching – whew, I was busy! Exposure to all these different but related fields was invaluable. It helped me figure out what made me happy, where I wanted to be, and what type of work allowed my strengths to shine. Acquiring the knowledge and experience from all these areas led me to the Art Producer position at Link9 – and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

How does being an art producer differ from your other jobs?
Working in this field keeps me in the know about emerging trends in art, technology and advertising. It has exposed me to aspects of the industry of which I had not before the chance to explore extensively. So much of my early career centered around photography. Now I can augment that with projects involving video, animation, CGI, 3D printing, and Virtual Reality. It is so incredibly exciting – teams want to push the envelope with the creative, always thinking of new ways to deliver effective communication. I love being part of that process!

What are the most important skills from your previous jobs that transferred over to an art producer?
Certain aspects like managing budgets and deadlines have been part of different past work experiences. It’s made me a pro at juggling responsibilities, being flexible in a collaborative process that varies from team to team, always striving for the best possible end product, and doing it with a smile!  I try to bring something to each project.  Whether it’s a beautifully retouched photo or producing a week-long location shoot, I try to approach each with the same level of passion and dedication.  I feel privileged to be able to do what I love and want that to come through in my work and in relationships with my teammates.

Did you always know you wanted to work in advertising?
I always knew I wanted to work in the creative arts, without knowing exactly how, or what area specifically. Studying photography and working on shoots was my initial exposure to advertising. I was involved on the production side as a lighting assistant or digital tech, but was completely intrigued by the creative team driving the shoot. Getting to see writers, art directors, producers and clients collaborating was fascinating. I absorbed everything I could in the process and learned the challenges and nuances of telling a story. I realized I wanted to be part of a team creating not only the visuals, but also concepts that need to be clever, informative, emotional and immensely engaging. Good advertising is a challenge and that makes the work so incredibly rewarding.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Saying “no!” It can be difficult breaking the news that an artist didn’t win a bid for a job. A lot can be asked of artist and agents in the bidding processes – meeting tight deadlines, working with limited budgets, creating treatments and estimates on last minute notice – and most go out of their way to meet all the demands. There is so much talent out there and it’s usually the best going against the best, so it always feels like letting someone down.

Another thing I’ve been seeing more of lately is client sensitivity for artists to show work in promotional use. Artists throw themselves into the projects, bringing tremendous effort and dedication to execute the best possible creative, and they want to share their work in their online portfolios. However, clients are very careful about the exposure brand receives. Restricted self-promotion clauses are a standard part of our purchasing agreement due to client sensitivity.  I understand that but it can make for a tricky conversation with artists. Also, at times it can be counter-productive. For example I was recently working on a photo shoot with real patients, and clients asked to source photographers who’ve specifically worked on such campaigns. Several artists that would have been perfect for the job and had direct experience shooting with real patients were not in the running because their previous clients did not allow that work to be shown. My background on the creative side comes in handy to help me navigate the sensitive aspects of the client/ artist relationship.

What are you becoming known for on your team?
Ability to adapt quickly and evolve to changing situations, remaining organized and offering creative solutions. It wouldn’t be unfair to say I’m a balance of polite yet demanding  : )

And, thank you John Blais for use of the cover image. Thank you Jimi Stine for help with the post.

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