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 Deb Rosen for agreeing to be part of this series. Deb is Director of Art Production at Wieden + Kennedy NYC and was eager to share her story. She is always looking for ways to connect with artistic and creative minds and can be found most weekends at museums and galleries in New York. Her passion for her work is obvious through her answers. We hope you enjoy learning about her work as much as I did.
Not all art producers take the same path to their job. Where did yours start and how did you end up as an art producer?
I was actually an advertising major in school so I knew that I wanted to get in to the industry but wasn’t quite sure where I fit in specifically. During school I was only taught about account management, strategy, media, and creative–production wasn’t even presented as an option. I always thought I wanted to be an art director since I grew up drawing and painting, but shortly before graduation I realized that, while I wanted to be involved in the creative process, I didn’t want to actually be the art director on the project. Art was such a personal passion that I didn’t know if it would translate well in a commercial sense when I didn’t have complete creative control.
How does being an art producer differ from your other jobs?
What are the most important skills from your previous jobs that transferred over to an art producer?
Did you always know you wanted to work in advertising?
Not at all. I always knew I wanted to do something creative, and I was passionate about art from a very young age. But when I was applying to college a good friend of mine told me that I should choose advertising as a major because it was a way to do something creative while still assuring my parents that I could get a job after graduation.
Did you ever consider becoming a photographer yourself?
Ha, never. I always appreciated photography, but I mostly used graphite when I would craft an image. Regardless, I have always appreciated subtleties in light, texture, and composition. Now I shoot a bit for fun but my eye for those things sometimes translates nicely to photography. Having said that, I understand the hard work and dedication that photographers put into their craft and would never consider myself a true artist. There’s also something to be said for earning that title as so many these days have a sense of entitlement thinking they can go from obscurity to shooting the next big campaign. A bit of humility goes a long way.
We all grow up with influences that make us who we are today. Can you share one or two experiences that have influenced your art producer style?
Hands down my love of art has influenced my production style. I believe that you can teach someone the fundamentals of production in terms of logistics and process. But you can’t teach someone taste. And it’s such a subjective thing. But I honestly believe my exposure to the fine art world has helped and keeps helping me refine my eye. I value that side of the job so much because I think the best work comes out of true collaborations between the producer and creative teams. And honestly, the best work comes out when a producer does their job right and their creative input is considered and valued by their team.I also think being a twin has made an impact on my work style in general. I am a big fan of teamwork and everyone coming together for one singular purpose. I think the people you work with really make a difference–working with and being surrounded by good people has always been very important to me.
Do you have a personal aesthetic that comes through in the photographers whose work you are drawn to?
Also a clear point of view makes an impact. It is great it a photographer can “do it all” but that instantly makes them more forgettable to me as well. If an artist has a unique perspective I will likely remember them and that will pay off down the road.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
There are a lot of challenges but I think it is particularly challenging when I work with a team that doesn’t bring me on early enough to properly do my job. If I only have a few hours to hire a photographer for a concept that I was barely briefed on, chances are that the outcome will not be very good and no one will be happy as a result.Also, as our media landscape changes, I feel like I am constantly relearning how to work. The needs for social media content being cheap, fast and good is a bit of a struggle. I find myself trying to balance lower budgets with the same creative expectation which can be difficult. But it is also an exciting challenge to find new, up and coming artists who want to work in that space and still create interesting and unique imagery.
What do you love about your job?
What one word describes your style as an art buyer?
What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday?
Is this Sunday during the summer or winter? 🙂 I love to go to museums and galleries on the weekends, so most Saturdays and Sundays you can find me for at least a few hours perusing the latest art shows in the city. Otherwise I like to go vintage shopping, check out a movie or catch up with friends I don’t get to see as often during the week. But let’s face it..most often I am inside cleaning my apartment. It’s not fun but has to get done!!