Arcangel Images

I discovered Arcangel Images while researching a tough spec from a client and wanted to know more about this niche agency with such compelling imagery. A chat with owner Michael Mascaro:

I did a bit of research on your background – as I understand it, you were a designer prior to starting Arcangel Images? Can you talk about that part of your career and how it led to starting an agency?

Yes, my initially training was in Illustration and design. I spent five years as a freelance illustrator, working primarily in oil. My images usually required a fair amount of photographic preparation i.e models, locations etc… so prior to a brush being picked up, I would shoot all the reference material myself. After five years I needed a change and started work at a major UK publisher as a cover book designer.

I spent nearly a decade in the industry working as a cover designer/photographer/Illustrator both in-house and freelancing for other publishers. During this time I felt there simply were not enough high quality libraries supplying relevant work to the book trade, that’s what started me thinking…

Arcangel has quite a distinctive aesthetic and visually you do not veer from a darker and more moody feel. Clearly you have a creative vision of how you sculpt the collection. How do you seek out your artists, decide where the images go (RF, RM) and arrive at subject matter?

Currently the collection holds around 270,000 images, all of these handpicked by Arcangel staff. This ensures we maintain extremely high standards and that images are relevant to the industries we work with. Although we do have many dark and moody images (many consider us the library of choice for thrillers & crime novels) the archive contains a very broad range of subjects and themes.

With regards how we find artists, they usually approach us. Our doors are always open to both new an established photographers. The contributors themselves decide if they want to sell RM or RF work, although 99% of our collection is rights-managed, as the majority of our clients require the protection that the RM licensing model offers.

The agency has a strong presence in the book cover market. Was this by design? How is the collection received in other segments?

We have a passion for the book industry… it’s our home. We have a deep understanding of our client’s needs and how they work. It’s our aim to make their job as easy, enjoyable and inspiring as possible. In return, the industry inspires us and our contributors…

Although  we do sell to other industries, the book trade is at the core of arcangel.

Its been a tough year for Spain economically and for that matter for all of Europe. Can you tell us a bit about how the picture business is faring and coping? Does your client base look more toward the Royalty Free model or are they apt to be picture driven regardless of the licensing?

We’ve been doing extremely well. Arcangel work on a global level, so we don’t depend on any one country.

Most clients prefer the protection that the right’s managed model give them and although we do offer royalty free images, the bulk of our sales are rights-managed. Book publishers can spend a lot of time on projects, months spent designing a book cover is not uncommon.

The last thing a publisher wants is to buy an RF image, only to see a competitor, publishing another book with the same image on the cover.

Where do you want to take the collection in the years to come – would you think about motion or other media?

We have a few things up our sleeve 😉 This September will see the launch of Arcangel Cine: a collection high quality cinematic footage. It’s important for us to keep the blade sharp so to speak. Our aim is to be the number one supplier of creative work to the international book trade.

© Gloria Mejuto

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