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 Andrea Ricker for agreeing to be part of this series. Andrea is a Freelance Art Producer and just happens to be the very first person I ever presented a portfolio to (did you even know that Andrea?) You can find more about Andrea on her profile at Freelanceartproducer.com so be sure to check it out and consider her for your next project.
Here is what she had to say:
What did you “want to be when you grew up?” Are you surprised where you ended up?
In college I studied Marketing, TV Production and Art History so in some respects, I always saw myself in production, becoming an art producer was a turn on my path. But I get so much satisfaction with assembling the creative pieces, working with the creative team on their vision then finding the right people to execute it. I am enjoying my landing pad.
What was your path to becoming an Art Producer and what was the first moment of inspiration when you knew you would work in a creative position?
While at Emerson College, I interned in the broadcast department at a large ad agency, (the name has changed a half dozen times) the internship resulted in being hired as an Assistant Broadcast Production. As an intern you are helping everyone the broadcast department engages, creative department, account management, print production, Editor. During this time I got to know the Director of Art Production she had impeccable taste in photography, was a champion for creative integrity, thus commissioned some of the best twentieth-century century photographers to work on the brands. The print that was coming out of the agency was clever and beautiful. I became intrigued by this role. As an Assistant Broadcast Producer, I learned about talent contracts, union regulations, music licensing, production, and editing but I felt very removed from the creative process, due to the small army of chefs in the kitchen. For a brief moment I thought it would be cool to work on a TV Pilot, that was very unsatisfying experience. Pursued going back to an agency, I accepted an opportunity for an Art Producer role. I have always carried the foundation of creativity integrity with me, no matter what the budget micro or robust.
Growing up, what were your creative interests?
My father was a pilot, we traveled quite a bit as a family, when I was very young about 5, we traveled to Europe, I still remember the trip like it was last year. The architecture, the urban design, I had never seen a sculpture, this large twisting metal was integrated into a tall iron fence. We spent time in Sweden and I was enthralled with the simplicity, tall angular buildings, clean lines, lights recessed in the crevasses of a cement structure. Growing up, this did not exist in Florida. When my father returned from his business in Europe he gave me a Mondrian music box, not a pink box with a ballerina twirling, this was a Mondrian style box, multi-colored rectangles on the outside, inside was colored blocks, different shapes and sizes. I thought that was just the coolest thing I had ever seen. Realizing that not all music boxes were pink, and bedazzled. That sparked my appreciation for design, photography and contemporary art.
Do you have a personal aesthetic that comes through in the photographers work you are drawn to?
Absolutely, I think the role of the art producer includes being a curator.
When Ryan McGinley was a “kid photographing his friends” I put him in the mix for a VW project — his style was a perfect, he was an unconventional match but I loved his style. Recognizing that an artist’s style can transfer to your project albeit an atypical choice, is one of the most gratifying moments. I am drawn to photographers/artists that have a deeply rooted passion for their craft. And innovative approach to their work.
Are your talents being needed in ways that you didn’t expect?
There are no boundaries, I find that people are interested in your experience that translates to a variety of professional opportunities, Including award show judge, presenting to students, appear at special lectures. As a producer, I am always juggling different asks. Negotiating over scale contracts, Location scouting, casting, procuring props, Interviewer, and demo voice over. You do what it takes to get the job done
How have your life experiences influenced your job choice?
In high school my friends were very creative, we had this double life, we had high school life then we had a social group of avant-garde experimental film makers. This was in Buffalo, NY at the time Buffalo was a hotbed of experimental media, performance art. I knew I wanted to be in visual arts, and I was attracted to the art and commerce of commercial photography and design.
How do you describe your job to your mother or someone not in the industry?
I make the creative ideas real for you to see. I am the negotiator, advocate, therapist, accountant, nurturer, legal advisor.
Where do you look for inspiration? Stay inspired?
Creativity is all around us, I travel for work and personal, being in a new place is inspiring, I pay attention to the art, architecture, design, and people. Seek out zines, specialty photo/art magazines. The overwhelming amount of visual inspiration on the internet, it’s very easy to go down the rabbit hole!
If you could change one thing in the creative industry right now, what would that be?
The value, quality and integrity of commercial photography/artists has sadly diminished, everyone in the process is feeling the pressure to do more for less. That is the new normal. However, I have noticed an increase in high quality publications that the photography is just as important as the stories, and the paper it’s printed on. That is certainly refreshing, and inspiring, perhaps that level of quality will swing back to the commercial industry.
Favorite way to spend a Sunday?
Boston is a great home base city. Easy access to the mountains, skiing is a winter passion. The cape is beautiful all year round. Sundays tend to be more relaxed, usually involves an outside activity. A couple Sundays a month we like hosting an early Sunday night dinner with friends no dinner is the same, meal is different, who shows up is different. Its casual, fun, everyone contributes, great way to catch up, talk about everything and nothing!
One thing people reading this would find surprising about you?
Many many many years ago I started photographing the beds in all the rooms I stayed while traveling for work and personal.
From the luxe to the not so luxe. A small collection of photos were in a juried gallery show.
If you weren’t an art producer, what would you do?
Today, an architect. There are a plethora of jobs/careers that fascinate me. With my job I have seen so many diverse professions, factory worker, surfboard shaper, scientist, farm worker. For a brief moment I put myself in their shoes, for that moment I imagine what it would be like to do something else.
Tanja Hollander. She has a show at MASS MoCA “Are You Really My Friend”. Segments of the project are also at the MFA.
“Tanja asks viewers to define what a real friend means to them. In the end, the project, while rooted in Facebook, goes beyond the superficial to explore ideas of interpersonal connections, travel, and community in today’s world”
It’s an important theme to ponder. This project about digital culture is all shot on film.