ASPP Executive Director Jain Lemos recently chatted with Lewis Blackwell, Chief Creative Officer of Evolve Images, about where his innovative road will take us.
“I’m evolving” might be today’s “the jury’s still out” idiom, but not for Lewis Blackwell of Evolve Images. His vision for the creative direction at Seattle’s new curated stock collection is conclusive: Offer a boutique of images very tightly focused on doing a great job for a particular kind of customer.
Demands made on art buyers are governed by short attention spans, so many agencies offer a one-stop-shopping solution. But here is where Evolve wants to change the path. Blackwell believes that stock photography sites often boast of having tens of millions of images for you… proposing a search experience you really do not want. Instead, they are only focused on appealing to that high-end commercial buyer. And that means they simply won’t be competing with the low-end pricing models or big, broad archival editorial offerings found at most agencies.
Blackwell, himself a complete creative, believes that Evolve’s success will be in sourcing photography that builds and sustains major brands, just what the arduous art director is looking for. “Being selective doesn’t mean we have a narrow creative vision. It is the challenge of great creative work to always extend into new forms of expression. We are looking to push boundaries here at Evolve,” he claims.
Using the power of keywords, buyers will find images with a strong communicative side to them. “By searching conceptually you’ll get fewer but better results than the hosing down you might be hit with elsewhere,” Blackwell explains. They are also offering browsing by galleries to explore themes. Blackwell is convinced commercial art directors are sure to see relevant material.
What buyers won’t find at Evolve is imagery that spans the different types of broad editorial or semi-pro design work. Blackwell also promises not to overload their servers with endless content solely to reach high numbers or attempt tosatisfy every price point.
As a long-time commentator on creativity, Blackwell sees the role of an experienced creative director critical to the future of the stock industry and a vital component in raising, transforming and defining creative standards. “At its best, this tends to work through generations of creative direction in a business. You can see that in great agencies and you can see it in great clients,” he offers.
Blackwell’s eye is keen enough to know that his own taste might not be broad enough. He admits that in a stock agency, the case for projecting a strong artistic direction is a little different in that he must be open to a wide range of creative diversity in order to present a choice for many clients. But image excellence in composition and technique are acquisition factors he can assure. “In this industry, we need to do better at consistently backing strong creative standards. We will certainly play our part in campaigning for quality as the key filter at Evolve Images.”
It’s refreshing to see an influential creative such as Blackwell, who is more likely to be seen navigating a Fezzari than a Ferrari around London streets, taking a stance for visually-consistent stock offerings. What’s more, he renews our faith that the industry hasn’t gone bonkers. Evolve prides themselves on seeking fair solutions for both the photographer and the client. That involves deep understanding of the creative heart as well as of commerce. By way of a determined creative course at the outset, Blackwell’s approach for Evolve seems capable of advancing the next best phase in stock photography offerings.
About Lewis Blackwell
Chief Creative Officer, Evolve Images
Lewis Blackwell has previously held high-profile positions in the image licensing field, including worldwide creative head of Getty Images. For many years he was Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the magazine Creative Review. He has authored bestselling and critically acclaimed books – ranging from Photowisdom, which featured 50 of the world’s leading photographers, to the Life & Love of Trees, an international bestseller. He co-edited one of the most famous graphic design books, The End Of Print, and the fourth edition of his classic 20th Century Type is in development.
About Jain Lemos
Jain Lemos brings dedication, creative vision and enthusiasm for the collaborative process into her role as Executive Director of the ASPP and publisher of The Picture Professional magazine.