Solving Mysteries with Hillary Jackson of Saatchi & Saatchi NYC

When I first met Hillary, it was when she worked at Crispin Porter and Bogusky in Colorado.  I knew we would like each other when she immediately accepted our invitation for dinner at a nearby restaurant; The Kitchen.  I mention the name only because it was fabulous and their own wine was equally as fabulous.  Maybe that is why we had such a great time.  Needless to say, we kept in touch and have enjoyed getting to know each other and working together over the years.  Hillary recently moved to NYC to work as a Senior Art Producer Saatchi & Saatchi and she continues to be one of the “good ones.”  Thank you Hillary for taking the time to answer our questions, reply to our emails, host our portfolio shows and of course making our job more fun!


 How do you search for photography nowadays?

I am huge about asking my fellow art producers who they love or have had successful shoots with.  I also like checking with the gang over at the Art Producers Forum and Yahoo and Facebook as they are always there for a quick reference as to who is doing great stuff.  Word of mouth can go way further than a million promos or emails!


Where do you find inspiration?

I am a magazine junkie and love seeing great work done in all of the various publications that I subscribe to.  I also look at promos (if they are easy to open and don’t come from the same photographer every other week)!  I love meeting reps and photographers in person so that I can put a name to the face and promo!


What are you reading online?

Right now I check out various blogs that are either photography related blogs  (Aphotoeditor) or sometimes a photographer’s own blog that aren’t all advertising focused and more just an interesting read.  I also love myself NYT!

What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?

I find a lot of photographers making personal calls themselves these days and touching base in a more social atmosphere.  I also find more links to blogs and personal work done outside of advertising which helps to see what a

photographer’s actual interests are!

What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed  over the years?

Recently there has been a lot more pre-production meetings being done over the phone and there is nothing that pleases the team and client more than a photographer who can give “good phone”.  It never hurts to act like you are uber enthusiastic about a project and offer up details on how the shoot is going to go down.  And when the actual shoot does happen it always helps to have a calm, but commanding presence over the whole crew.  The client loves updates and check-ins just as much as the art producer does!

Solving Mysteries. 5 questions for Ilona Siller of Draft FCB in NYC.

© Leigh Beisch -

For those of you who don’t know Ilona, you should.  She is one of the smartest, wittiest and most interesting art buyers out there.  Her Facebook posts alone make me laugh out loud.   When I first met her, it was at a portfolio show I was hosting and we spent the time talking and getting to know each other.  Her stories were so interesting and her wit unmatched.  I knew when I left I had made a friend.

When I asked her to contribute to our Solving Mysteries series, she did not hesitate.  Here is what she had to say.

How do you search for photography nowadays?

I start with people I met and worked with. Then I look through my promo cards. I am sure I am the only art buyer that actually loves promo cards. There is something that I love about physically going through them and looking for the right fit.  Then, I hit 51,265,381 sites I have bookmarked on my computer. I also do look through the Workbook.

Where do you find inspiration?

My inspiration comes from creatives. They are the ones with brilliant idea. I am there to understand and translate them into a possible visual.

What are you reading online?

I have a lot of photographer “friends” on facebook. If I have a minute, I like seeing their latest shoot or a blog entry. I also love Photo District News and read it cover to cover.

What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?  

Mmmmm. Red Velvet cupcakes always win my attention. I am kidding (partially).   I think it is important for photographers and art buyers to meet. Once you’ve heard a story behind a picture or shared a joke, it’s hard to forget that person.

What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed  over the years?

Listening, cooperation, down to earth attitude, speed and great craft service.:) I don’t know about “over the years” since I am still so very young.:)

Solving Mysteries with Jill Hundenski of Team One

Leigh Beisch -

I don’t often get to hang out with the friends I make in this business because they are scattered all of the country.  So, I was very happy at a recent event in LA I that I was able to spend some time with my art buyer friend Jill Hundenski of Team One Advertising.   I was reminded of what a fantastic person she is.  She is fun to be around, full of life and always with a positive point of view.  Every time I would look around she would be engaged in an animated discussion and looking like she was having the time of her life.  This is how she is at work too.

 I like that about Jill.

I knew that when I asked her to contribute her answers to our 5 questions that she would excitedly say yes.  And, she did.  Thank you Jill for always be up for anything and always being so gracious and professional about it.

Here is what she had to say:

•  How do you search for photography nowadays?

We have a good reputation with other Art Producers, so a lot times we will ask each other for recommendations. I personally keep a list of photographers I like, filed by “style”, that I can easily reference when something comes up. I personally save promos I love and will definitely sift through (old school style). However, there have definitely been times when we straight up go on reps’ sites and dig through the links. This is probably the most common, so an up to date website is crucial.

•  Where do you find inspiration?
Images from photographer’s websites, creative blogs, good stock sites, art and interior design magazines (online), other ads, etc.

•  What are you reading online?

Me personally? I can tell you some of my favorites: apartment therapy, trunk archive, dwell, museum exhibitions, gallery openings, the apple site, random blogs that our creatives come across, art walks and events locally, architecture and design sites, high fashion sites, resisting gravity (our internal blog), charity events & involvement opportunities, facebook, etc. 😉

•  What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?  

Sending memorable promos. ie. lunchboxes, a dollar bill, coffee mugs, beer, etc. I prefer a nice print myself. Chances are if it’s artful we’ll hang it in our office.

•  What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed over the years? 

Clients? They value the cheapest price! No, but really though, I think both the client and the agency value collaboration, cutting-edge thinking and on top of the technology. Open-minded and suggestive to what we should be doing. We appreciate the photographer’s input and creative opinion, however they also need to have that balance (on when to back down) to respect us and our client’s demands. 

Solving Mysteries with Lisa Bellis of Abelson Taylor

© Ann Elliott Cutting -

Lisa Bellis, an art buyer at Abelson Taylor in Chicago recently reached out to us for a project for Hunter Freeman.  She did so at a time when I was thinking about our next blog posts.  While Lisa has been a big supporter of our group for sometime, I realized I did not know her as well as I would like.  Therefore, I thought she would be a great candidate for our Solving Mysteries series.

I loved her answer for what photographers are doing lately to stand out from their competitors.  The idea of the personal connection is a powerful one for us and one that that we preach to our group all of the time.  It is of course one of the hardest to actually make happen but it continues to be one of the most effective tools a photographer has in his or her tool box (besides great work of course!).

Thank you Lisa for taking the time to share with us your thoughts.

How do you search for photography nowadays?  

Pretty much every way possible; web, reference books (Workbook, etc.), publications, printed promos, word of mouth – I like to keep my options open. The one consistency here is that no matter what method I’m using, it has to be streamlined, user friendly, and well organized.

Where do you find inspiration?

Anywhere and anything outside of work. I like exploring and being outside. For the last year or so, I’ve been frequenting local county fairs and small town festivals throughout the Midwest. You’d be amazed at what you see in unexpected places.

What are you reading online?

Honestly? I don’t do much online reading – after being on the computer all day, the last thing I want to do is stare at the screen any longer. I do however love books (the old-fashioned printed kind). I still go to the library and check out books on a variety of subjects. Some of my favorites are history (particularly Russian), social policy, and green living, among others. (I promise I’m more fun than that list makes me sound!)

What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?  

One thing I’ve noticed is that more photographers are reaching out directly via phone or an actual visit. You can’t overestimate the value of speaking to someone face to face, especially today when it’s possible to have entire relationships without ever meeting in person. The other thing that always works for me is branded, usable items. If it’s different than everything else I receive in the mail, AND I can use it elsewhere, I guarantee I’ll remember your name.

What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed over the years?

I think it differs from one client to another. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work on a multitude of clients across various industries. The main thing is that clients prioritize differently. Some really want to put out award winning creative work, others may be more driven by a bottom line. Regardless of values though, the biggest change I see is time and money. We have substantially less of both for the vast majority of jobs. I understand that at the end of the day it’s just business, but in my mind, compromising quality and relationships for too long usually ends up being bad for business.

Thank you Lisa for taking the time to let us know your thoughts.  We appreciate it!

Solving Mysteries with Angee Murray of Saatchi & Saatchi LA

© Leigh Beisch -

One thing I love about this business is how many different paths people can take and how our lives can still be connected regardless of which path they choose.  I remember meeting Angee Murray (then Rawlings) when she was an art buyer at Goldberg Moser O’Neill  (remember them?) in San Francisco.  She then moved on to work with RJ Muna as his studio manager before heading south to Saatchi & Saatchi.  I loved that even though Angee wore many hats, we still stayed in touch.  Over the years we have indeed bid and shot jobs together but more importantly we have become friends.   So, when I asked her if she wanted to contribute to our blog, I wasn’t surprised when she said yes.  Thank you Angee!

How do you search for photography nowadays?

My research starts with bookmarked websites, CA, Archive, At-Edge and the few inspiring promos that I’ve saved.

Where do you find inspiration? is a site that allows users to post and share their favorite images found on the web.  I also like The Sartorialist, a blog started simply as a way to share photos of people the author thought were interesting on the streets of NY but turned into something much bigger.

What are you reading online?

Read! The only thing I have time to do is look at pictures!! Seriously, I read and that’s about it. I wish I had more time to read some of the great blogs out there like yours but I’m just too darn busy.

What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?  

Treatments, personal notes, making appointments with AP’s to show their book when they are in town. Basically, anything that has a personal touch.

What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed over the years?

Our client puts a lot of trust in the agency to find the right person for the job and values quality over getting it done on the cheap. I believe it shows in our creative product and that does not differ in what I value. I think that has been consistent with our client over the years and it is our challenge as Art Producers to find appropriate new talent and artists to keep things fresh.

Thank you Angee Murray!  If you would like to contribute to Solving Mysteries please email us.  We are open to you suggesting your own questions as well.

Solving Mysteries: 5 questions for Cindy Hicks of The Martin Agency

© Kevin Twomey -

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of working with Cindy Hicks of The Martin Agency, she is one of the good ones.  In all the years I have known her she is not only professional and personable but she is one of the nicest people in the business.  She has a respect for the industry and all of its participants that can only come from years of experience.  So, when we emailed her to see if she wanted to contribute to our blog it was no surprise that she emailed us right back that she would.   Thank you Cindy for your dedication to this crazy business and of course for your blog post too!

How do you search for photography nowadays?  

I search everywhere; traditional reps, galleries, events like Le Book (which are great).  I have even gotten lucky on Flickr.   And, I of course still love a portfolio show.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration everywhere; my daughter, music, galleries, mailers and nature.  I shoot a lot myself and I am inspired by those I work with and places I travel to.

What are you reading online?  

I tend to stumble upon design sites, photo sites, a few blog sites but it varies day to day. Some of my favorites are:  Neu Black, Guardian and of course all of my favorite reps!

What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?

I notice smart mailers, thoughtful pieces and personal work that is well crafted.   I am hoping there is return to craft.  I am seeing it with letterpress, silkscreeners, and street art.   I think photographers are doing the same and getting back to relying on the eye vs. technique.

What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed over the years?  

Clients seem to value price mostly.  I value quality / service / attention to detail and craft.  I think I value production more than I had in the past and I now realize a great photographer can just have a bad production or producer.   The shoots are more complex now and there are more people involved.  Since there are more people to please the entire shoot experience is judged, not just a single photo.

I still love what I do. I miss good budgets, days without cost consultants, decent timeframes to produce jobs, concepts with grit & heart and advertising that isn’t so watered down due to excessive focus groups.

I see it turning, I just want it to move a little faster!

Thank you Cindy Hicks!  If you would like to contribute to Solving Mysteries please email us.  We are open to you suggesting your own questions as well.

Solving Mysteries with Christopher Grimes of CP+B. Who knew he would consider being a NYC bus driver in another life!

Anyone who knows art buyer Christopher Grimes of CP+B knows that he is one of a kind.  He is all about living life to it’s fullest and enjoying the people around him.  Everything about Christopher is fun and exciting.  He loves to surround himself with creative and inspiring people and is always looking for all things new and different.  If you ever get the pleasure to work with him, you will be impressed by his dedication to creative and his drive to be the very best he can.  I would be surprised if after it was all said and done if you hadn’t made a new friend.

So, it isn’t a surprise when we asked him to contribute to our Solving Mysteries Series where we ask creatives 5 industry related questions, that he asked us to change up the questions to make them more relevant to him.  “More fun!” were his exact words.  Thank you Christopher for reminding us to lighten it up a bit.

Here are the questions we asked him and he wonderful answers. Thank you!

•  Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration from magazines (food, lifestyle, design, travel), design websites, blogs, nature and my friends. I love getting well-designed, printed promotions. I keep them as reference for personal and work inspiration.

•  What was the craziest promo you ever got?

Although not that crazy, I once received an umbrella. The photographer who sent it always stays at the top of my mind when looking for a certain style. Art producers love getting things like wood matches, blank note cards and water bottles. These branded items remind us of the agent or photographer who sent it, AND it serves a purpose.

•  What is the best part of your job?

Building relationships. I’m the luckiest guy in the world to get to work with awesome/smart/brilliant/hard-working/fun creatives, account peeps, photographers, agents, producers and THE BEST Art Production team on the planet. What’s even better is when they become personal friends. It makes my job feel like my personal life.

•  If you left advertising, what would be your dream job?

My dream job would be volunteering. I’ve always wanted to dedicate my life to helping others. I’m most passionate about guide dogs, veterans and homelessness. I’ve also always wanted to be a NYC bus driver.

•  If you got three wishes that had to do with your job, what would they be?

This is a difficult one. I could wish for more time or money on a project, but I like the challenges of making it work with what I’m given. So that said…1. Summer Fridays 2. my choice of producer on every project (you know who you are) and 3. a CP+B office in Minneapolis (yo MPLS!!).  

 If you have ideas for other questions, please do let us know. We would be happy to consider them for our Solving Mysteries series.

Solving Mysteries with Jigisha Bouverat of TBWA\Chiat\Day

© Leigh Beisch -

We all know Jigisha Bouverat of TBWA\Chiat\Day as a professional and talented art producer.  So it was no surprise when she agreed to answer the top 5 questions that we are discussing in our group right now.  Thank you Jigisha.  Your insights are always valuable.

How do you search for photography nowadays?
One of the core functions as an art producer is to maintain a current and extensive knowledge base of the artist community, technologies, and trends. We use all the industry resources available, such as web, email, social media, blogs, etc to search out talent.  Still…so much more important are the human opportunities; in-person meetings, industry events, gallery shows, art books, portfolio reviews at schools, chance meetings.

My favorite method for sourcing photographers, both emerging and established, are meetings conducted at the agency.  It allows us to have a more personal insight into the artist’s work and access the chemistry they might have with our creatives.  Industry publications like PDN, American PhotographyArchive, and Communication Arts are very important reference points for most art producers and art directors. Source books are useful but not our first line of research. 

Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is two-fold.  One aspect is purely commercial, working with the creative teams and being inspired by their drive to create impactful visuals and ideas for our brands.  A great producer needs to be inspired by the work. The other aspect is from the artist community.  Inspiration comes from the work we see everyday in photography, fine art, graphic design, illustration, street art, etc.  Seeing the passion an artist pours into their work is always inspiring.  I love the days when a new talent walks into the office to show their portfolio and I’m in awe of the work.  That is the best part of the job!

What are you reading online?

On an average day, I’m on the computer for 90% of the day so if I have down time I prefer to pick up a magazine or publication versus online content. I do check out a few industry related blogs each day for inspiration or research.

What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?

Passionate, honest work.  That is the one constant in this rapidly changing industry.

What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed over the years?

Diplomatically, I would say most of our clients value good work that delivers the concept or brand idea….within budget and schedule…had to say it : )  Art directors and producers are always looking for the perfect artist to collaborate with on the project, who can bring the idea to life.  In that respect, I would say nothing has changed.  What has changed dramatically is the expectations on the budgets and schedules.  We’ve moved into a fast paced world with unrealistic budgets and timing.  In the past two years, the economy and technology played a role in creating this unfortunate dynamic. But this always happens when something new is shaking up the industry.  Right now it’s the word digital. The beginning of this year has been very promising.  I believe the quality of the visual is becoming important again and clients are understanding the connection of strong imagery to the brand identity. We’re coming back full circle to having the same goal…great work for the brand.

If you are an art buyer or a creative in our community and would like to contribute to this conversation, please do email us.  We would love to hear from you.

Solving mysteries: 5 questions for Eric Harris

©Ann Elliott Cutting

We recently met Group Creative Director Eric Harris of TracyLocke on a shoot with Leigh Beisch.  When we asked him to be a guest blogger, he did not hesitate.

So, thank you Eric for taking the time to help answer some of the questions that have been on the minds of our group and our readers.  Every little bit helps!

How do you search for photography nowadays?
It’s usually a long conversation between me and my art producer. She takes down my criteria and brings me a list of shooters who fit the bill, or a link to a lightbox of images that fits.

Where do you find inspiration?
Online. My RSS reader is full of inspirational feeds. , and slashfood’s flickr pool.

What are you reading online?
Lots of Fast Company, but mostly a news story here and there. Rarely loyal to any site over another.

What are photographers doing lately to stand out from their competitors?
Facebook is a great way to stay active in my “personal” world, where I’m less likely to ignore. On FB, I’m looking for passive entertainment. When photographers reach me at work I feel like I’m being sold. The exception is STUNNING direct mail. The only catch is that it has to be show-stopping. Something that’ll turn heads if I hang it up in my office.

What does your client value most from a photographer?  Does that differ from what you value?  And, has that changed over the years?
Speed and flexibility of schedule. I’m usually at odds with this mentality, since it disregards QUALITY, something I’m willing to sacrifice for. But in this world of Twitter and Google Instant, my clients want what they want when they want it. As an agency, that’s become a struggle too. How many times can we ask our vendors to shoot 12 products in one day? How, in good conscience, can we ask for a 2-week shoot the week before we want to start? (It’s embarrassing, but yes these scenarios are based on true stories.) I still value the equation that loyalty plus dedication equals better work, and I fight for it every chance I get.