ART PRODUCER Q&A: CELESTE

26May09

Photo 12I’m interviewing fellow Art Producers to give a little insight in to our world and learn more about my colleagues. I first met Celeste Holt-Walters the summer of 2003, I was the Art Production Department Intern and she was the Art Production Coordinator at BBDO. In the world of NYC office spaces it’s never fun to have an intern thrown in to your office so I’m forever thankful that Celeste welcomed me with open arms even though I was cramping her office space. I spent the summer organizing film (yes film!) and doing stock searches, when Celeste moved on to McCann I moved in to the Art Production Coordinator position.

How did you get in to Art Production/Buying?  

I studied photography at RIT and knew that I wanted to do something in the photo industry that put me in the middle of everything, without actually being the one taking the pictures!! So, I interned one summer for the Photo Editor at Spin magazine and thought that I definitely wanted to be a photo editor. Then, my senior year in college, I came on a class trip to NYC and we visited O&M’s Art Production department. After that trip and seeing the similarities and differences between the two occupations, I thought that I wanted to be a Photo Editor OR an Art Producer..! When I graduated in 02 and moved to the city I went on a slew of informational interviews and just tried really hard to get my foot in the door at either a publication or an ad agency…a few months later I was offered a job as the Art Production Coordinator at BBDO and have been in Art Production ever since.

What Art Producers/Buyers have influenced your career?  

Elise Daher and Andrea Kaye are the two most influential Art Producers in my career. Elise was the one who 1st took me under her wing.  She was an Art Producer at BBDO when I got my 1st job out of school and she really taught me everything that she new about the business at that time.  In addition to being a really fantastic mentor, she put an immense amount of trust in me and not only let me shadow her, but also let me produce small projects from start to finish really early on. If it was not for her support I don’t know if I would have stayed in the business (I was quickly getting bored of stock searches!!). When I left BBDO it was to come to McCann and work for Andrea.  I have been in her department for almost 6 years now and still feel insanely lucky to be working for someone like her. She is brilliant at what she does and a great person, regardless of what level you are at, to learn from and strive to be like. You want so badly to impress her with the work that you are doing, that you can’t help but become excellent at what you do!

What would you tell recent college grads that are interested in a career in Art Production/Buying?  

I would say that Art Production is a really interesting, fun and exciting career to have, but that it is also what you make of it. I love my job because it is ever-changing. I am not only learning something new on each new project and constantly looking for amazing new talent in the print world, but am also wildly curious about interactive and digital production and talent as well. The advertising industry is changing rapidly and with it is the way that we do our jobs, as well as what people expect from us. If you are curious and excited about the changing industry then, whether or not you are an Art Producer, Broadcast Producer, Interactive producer, etc…you will find yourself in a good place. I think that it’s important for kids to be open to taking on many rolls and wearing many hats. Be curious and learn as much as you can.

What photographers have you enjoyed working with the most?  

This is a tough one…it’s fantastic that we get the opportunity to work with such a wide range of talented artists. There are a small few of photographers out there, like Kareem Black, who not only leave you with really amazing images, but also with the feeling that you just spent the day partying with your friends! I won’t lie, the most enjoyable shoots have almost all been with Kareem…(who doesn’t like having a DJ on set and a gin and tonic at the end of a job well done..?) But on the flip side, it’s usually the most stressful and/or complicated projects that really reveal how brilliant and creative a photographer is. Some of the largest and most challenging shoots of my career have been with Stephen Wilkes and he is an absolute pleasure to work with and also an amazing mind to watch work.  

Who would you like to work with that you haven’t worked with before?

I would love to spend a week traveling through rural USA with Stephen Shore. I think his work is  fantastic. Also, and this may be totally masochistic, but I wouldn’t mind spending a day on a CRAZY shoot with someone like….(insert uber famous diva photographer here)… :)

There is a bit of confusion for outsiders and insiders with our job titles, Art Producer v. Art Buyer, what do you like to be called and what are your thoughts on the issue?  

I like to be called an Art Producer. I think that it paints a more accurate picture of what we do. The thing that I love most about this job is the putting together of the puzzle and it is totally production heavy.  We don’t buy art, we produce it.

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