I’ve combed through dozens of podcast interviews Juliette Wolf-Robin has conducted with influential art buyers and creatives. In this article, art buyers talk about how they organize the hundreds of printed and electronic direct-mail campaigns they receive from artists.
Juliette Wolf-Robin: How do you organize and store the promotional material you receive from artists–printed and electronic?
“We have art files containing promo cards that have been filed according to category. I also have a file in my [computer] inbox with folders for different promos. I keep telling everyone: Use the subject line wisely. If the subject line has something in it that says “Food Photography” or “Still Life” … you've pre-categorized for me. It makes it much easier to find later and it also prompts me to open it sooner.” – Kat Dalager, Manager of Print Production, Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis
“We have an area – a big board – where we display cards we really like or that other people would like. Then we'll file them, but we have to clean it out because it gets unwieldy after about six months. We used to keep a big file on everything but now, with digital and the Web, we really don't need to. – Aric Rist, Global Brand Photography Manager, Nike, Portland, Oregon
“We have a binder… broken into different styles of photography, with leave-behinds from all sorts of photographers.” – Wade Atkinson, Publicis Seattle
“It's New York… we don't have a lot of space. I might keep [printed promos] for a month or two but, eventually, I clear my wall off. I usually save an email that somebody sends me. We also like to keep a large catalog of illustrators’ websites.” – Darren Cox, Director of Creative Services, SpotCo, New York
“I keep some [printed promos]… The quicker and easier they are to look through, the better. You just want something where you see the work. – Aylin Koker, Art Producer, Cole + Weber United
“We organize material two different ways. All of us pool our absolute favorite things and categorize everything in notebooks – photography and illustration – and the style of it. So, if an art director is looking for a car photographer, we've got a couple of three-ring binders with tons of great examples that we've edited and that we feel are the best. We rotate things out, occasionally. We also have an electronic version, an Excel spreadsheet with links to our favorite reps and photographers. And we have all of those bookmarked by category in our Internet browser.” – Dave Lewis, Managing Art Buyer, Fallon, Minneapolis
“Usually everyone in the department gets the same postcard. I’ve kept some promos for 10 years. Usually, I put the date on the back. And it’s definitely important to have your name and phone number on a promo piece. Sometimes I’ll get an accordion-style mailer and it has the artist’s name on only one of the panels. Someone might rip it apart, then you don’t know who the photographer is.” – Wini Barron, Senior Art Producer, McCann Erickson, New York
“I'm a saver. I will take all my promos and put them in a big box. When I have some downtime, I'll go through and sort them. All the ones I really like, I'll keep. We have flat files or hanging files where we try to categorize everything. When I'm working on a big project and I can't find what I'm looking for online, I will look through my promo box. There's nothing more disappointing than seeing a really great promo with a great picture on it, and then going to the website but there's not enough work to really support it. You end up tossing that promo and you’re not going [to the website] again.” – Lisa Oropallo, Art Buying Manager, Digitas, New York
“We have flat files that our assistant makes – copies of favorite images whether photography or illustration – and we have them all categorized. So, landscape, still life, product, portrait, celebrity portrait, environmental portrait, etc. There's like 20 different categories.” – Marni Beardsley, Head Art Buyer, Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Oregon
“I typically bookmark information. Because I work with a variety of agencies, I’m not able to keep everything. [People at the agencies] keep their own material. I guess that’s similar to someone’s Rolodex. I know some art directors who have tons and tons of promo pieces, and some even have systems to keep track of them. But, the art directors, a lot of times, are working in TV so they’re not necessarily following photography closely. They rely on [art buyers] to bring in talent.” – Michelle Jackson, Freelance Art Buyer/Print Producer and Founder of Snap Indigo