When I look back on my early days as a rep, I remember mostly having to find my own way. I didn’t have many people to ask questions of and I had to rely on my experience as an account executive at an ad agency when I had decisions to make. I didn’t have a boss or a mentor and for a long time did not feel part of any agent community. Then I moved to San Francisco and a few years later became friendly with agents Marianne Campbell and Norman Maslov. We shared creative lists (remember having to call agencies for those??) and called each other about usage and changes in the business. Our friendship spanned twenty years this year and I credit us with starting our own community at a time when reps tended to keep to themselves more than they do now.
It was this sense of community that inspired me to start the blog, Notes from a Rep’s Journal. I wanted to create a space where people could share thoughts, opinions and knowledge about the industry. Timing for the blog was right because agents and art buyers were already starting to reach out to each other more to create their own sense of community.
So what came next seemed natural. Along with Brite Productions, we started a series of conversations and blog posts with industry leaders called The Community Table. The idea behind it was that there is nothing more powerful in our industry than education. Community had caught on.
Well, just when I was looking for new ways to connect with our community, I was invited to be part of mergeSF. merge is a collection of reps from LA who wanted to find a unique way to showcase their work and connect with the creative community in a fun and philanthropic way. Their first event was in LA where they hosted a great party and each rep shared their work in different unique gallery settings. The reps at merge didn’t stop with their own LA community. They decided to bring their show on the road and connect with one rep in each city to help spread the merge word. They partnered with Sarah Laird and Good Company in NY, Emissary Artists in Chicago and our office in SF. And in each city they partner with a local charity and by way of a silent auction of artist’s framed prints raise thousands of dollars. To date they have raised over $6000.
Hosting merge here in San Francisco was a wonderful experience. The collection of friendship and creativity that the LA reps brought to SF was powerful. A few days before the event we hosted portfolio shows together to spread the word about the party and worked hard to promote each other and make new connections for the group. The sense of community was strong and San Francisco responded. Lupine Hammack and Michael Kennedy of Capitol Art donated their incredible studio space (and thank you Travis McCall) and it was the perfect backdrop for creatives and buyers and clients and artists to come together to celebrate friendship and creativity.
After a week of partnering with the LA reps here in SF, I felt even more proud of our collective community for all of our individual contributions. It was once again confirmed that we are more powerful together and that sharing resources and knowledge makes us stronger and smarter. I am so appreciative of the people in our industry who recognize the importance of community and do what they can to make us stronger. Our industry has changed a lot over the years; much of it posing difficult challenges. But, knowing we are part of an incredible community of agents, makes all of the hard work worth it.
A special thanks to the founding agents of merge: John of Sharpe + Associates, Krissy and Dallas of Illuminated Media International, Sherwin of Picture Matters, Brooke of Tidepool Reps, Jigisha of Jigisha Bouverat Collective, and Dara of I Heart Reps. Your forward thinking continues to bring us together and propel us forward.
As well, a very big thank you to Capitol Art for use of their amazing studio (be sure to check it out!!), Jesse Hagy of The Little Giant for the lighting that made us all look so good and Fort Point Beer and Manhattan Margaritas who kept us all very well hydrated. And, of course to DrawBridge for allowing us to celebrate with them all that they do for homeless and under-served children to inspire creativity, joy, self-confidence and hope.
What will we do next to make our community stronger?