The Evolution of Art Production

Written By Nicole Bishop. Originally featured on the Foundfolios Blog and reposted with their kind permission.

It is estimated that in 2004 there were 900 art buyers and producers in North America. Today, data shows there are only 400. What does that mean for the industry?

Art buyers and producers have had many struggles within the agency world due to budgetary constraints in an ever-evolving industry. As we all know, art buyers and producers work very closely with art directors and creative teams to secure proper images along with photographers and illustrators based on specialty. They all play an intricate role in securing rights and making sure all images are legally sound, based on the client’s needs.

For an agency perspective, I interviewed Brian Stabile, a Senior Production Specialist from LLNS in Manhattan, to gain some feedback on his experiences with the art buying and production departments. He is not only in charge of working on several campaigns and projects creatively, but he also serves as Quality Control. He noted that when he started his career in 2002 with an agency that employed roughly 200 people, there were five art buyers and producers at the company. To date they have narrowed down the department to one.

Many art producers are spread thin and it’s extremely difficult to include them in every facet of a project’s life. This, in turn, creates a larger issue for all agencies. From a legal standpoint, this puts an agency at risk for legal ramifications. Working in a churn and burn industry, several jobs could potentially be released with flaws. This creates an elevated level of stress and concern for the creative and studio departments as they have to diligently search for the perfect stock image (pending no photo shoot) for their layout, adding unnecessary hours to their day.

Jackie Contee, Art Buyer and Print Producer from The UniWorld Group based out of Brooklyn, New York, is finding that the art buyer and producer role is currently being segued into an art buyer, print-digital producer and content producer role. She’s been able to step into these shoes and facilitate the production of every facet of a shoot including stills, b-rolls, etc.

How does this affect the project life of a job? It touches every aspect of all teams involved on the job. From the project management department in charge of estimates and timing, to the account management departments, including the creative and studio teams who have to deliver on time.

On the flip side, photographers and illustrators also feel the brunt of many agencies eliminating Art Buyer and Producer roles. For these artists, FoundFolios addressed this concern years ago by creating FoundPicks. FoundPicks is a free service offered to help support all creatives, particularly helping Art Producers with a limited staff of Art Buyers to find appropriate talent for their specific needs.

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