Lisa Matthews: A working mom with superior multi-tasking skills

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.

Here is what Lisa had to say:

What did you “want to be when you grew up?” Are you surprised where you ended up?
I always knew I wanted to work in a field where I could help people. My mom was a teacher then owned a travel agency, and my dad was a petroleum geologist, all great careers but not what I wanted to do. After having a life change, I moved from Oklahoma to California and began a career in advertising which led to art production. While advertising did not fulfill my desire to help others, I enjoyed the creative process and channeled my interest in helping others in a different way.  I am so happy that advertising fell into my lap and I have loved the art production career I have had thus far.

What was your path to becoming an Art Buyer and what was the first moment of inspiration when you knew you would work in a creative position?
I began working for a friend at the largest ad agency in Oklahoma and to my surprise enjoyed the work. A year later I moved to California and got a job as a creative coordinator for the two creative directors at Foote, Cone & Belding. I found I loved working with the creative teams and seeing how a single image or idea could connect emotionally and shift perceptions of a brand or product. Years later my husband suggested I should become an art producer. I had no idea what an art producer was so I was sent to the FCB office in Chicago for training.  Once I had the training, I knew I had found my calling.

Growing up, what were your creative interests?
My dad received the National Geographic magazines in the mail, and I loved looking at all the pages of amazing photography. As a result of these beautiful and interesting photos, I realized my love for photography, travel, nature, and animals. The stories told through the incredible images began my passion for great photography and storytelling.

Images by National Geo Photographer Joel Sartore


Do you have a personal aesthetic that comes through in the photographers work you are drawn to?
I am drawn to photographers that can tell stories through their work. Great photography is more than a singular image. A great photograph connects with you emotionally and tells a story. The ability to do this extends far beyond technique or camera gear; it is the ability to find and tell a story through a single image. You know it when you see it, it stops you in your tracks and demands your attention and conversation. I love looking at landscapes, portraits and animal photography. I still marvel at the photos in National Geographic.

Image by National Geo Photographer Clane Gessel

How have your life experiences influenced your job choice?
I was always a working mom, so I knew how to juggle multiple things happening all at once. I managed a lot of the home finances, so I knew about budgeting, I kept everyone’s work and school calendar, so I knew about scheduling, and I have been married for 27 years, so I know about negotiating. All of these skills have helped me be a better art producer.

 How do you describe your job to your mother or someone not in the industry?
I tell them I work as a producer in an agency and together with creative and account folks we create the assets you see in magazines, outdoor boards, social media or websites. I tell them I collaborate with photographers, illustrators, models, and sometimes I get to travel to some cool places.

I shot in Spain for Lexus.


If you could change one thing in the creative industry right now, what would that be?
It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words. Compelling images can capture attention, tell a story and solicit an emotional response resulting in a strong, memorable impact upon the viewer.  Today it is all about asset development and content generation. While this is an efficient way to fulfill the needs of today’s multiple communication platforms, it undermines the creation of specific conceptually driven images that can be far more powerful.  Rare is the opportunity to develop an idea from the ground up with an image created to tell that story specifically. Throughout my career, I have generated thousands of assets, but it is those that are tied to a single idea that tell a complete story that I am most proud.

Favorite way to spend a Sunday?
Hanging out with my family and two dogs. We live close to the beach, so we spend a lot of time there. However, if it’s in the winter months my preference is to head to Mammoth for some great skiing.


One thing people reading this would find surprising about you?
I love photography, but I don’t own a camera. I have been to Hawaii over 35 times. I have done the Turkey Trot every year for the last 10 (favorite one was running past the White House in DC), but I have never cooked a turkey. My favorite animal is a Koala Bear.


If you weren’t an art producer, what would you do?
I would work in a bakery – Sprinkles or Susie’s are two of my favorites or in an animal sanctuary.

Where do you look for inspiration? Stay inspired?
I look everywhere for inspiration. Instagram, portfolios, sunsets at the beach.


Latest discovery?
I have met and started following London Kay @madebylondon on Instagram ( She began as a dancer in New York City, but due to an injury, she took up crocheting. She has created a crochet wrap for Carvana, a school bus for a Gap commercial, crocheted an outdoor board for Miller Lite in Times Square and a musical wall for Disney. Have a look at her site; she is so inspiring!!!!


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