Read Jamie Stephen's interview on Workbook
November 29, 2017
JSR Agency Founder Jamie Stephen was interviewed by WorkBook about his views on the industry:
After 12 years in business and a major recession, JSR is a highly capable team of professionals who can manage any project, of any size, anywhere in the world. They’ve worked on major advertising contracts with the likes of Adidas, Panasonic, Honda, McDonalds, and Investec, to name but a few. The JSR Agency now represents more than 40 artists, many of them award-winning. The roster includes photographers and filmmakers who also produce CGI, GIFs, Cinemagraphs, and illustrators who work in everything from pen and pencil, screen printing, 3-D and even felt. At the beginning of their second decade, the JSR crew looks forward to many more years ahead. Read on for an in-depth interview with founder, Jamie Stephens.
How long have you been an artist representative, and how did you get started in the business?
I established JSR in 2005, having previously worked in advertising and marketing agencies. I was lucky enough to meet a number of creatives and photographers who convinced me to take on the challenge of representing artists. I established the agency with the express intent of covering all the main genres of art photography, and since 2010 we’ve expanded out to illustrators, CGi artists, and now our niche is creating content and having the best talent and production backup.
Does your group work a particular niche within the market, and if so, how would you describe it? Do you think it is important to have a niche?
We work across a wide spectrum of commercial advertising requirements; however, currently we are seeing a lot of car/automotive requests and briefs coming into the agency. We have particular strengths in cars, jewelry, and food, but with a production arm we get asked to produce all sorts of campaigns.
How do you decide to take on a new artist? What requirements do you have?
We regularly look at new talent and consider taking on new artists – it’s their work that grabs us initially, but the type of people they are when we meet them and the commercial experience they have are also factors. Increasingly important is their social media presence, but it’s not the deciding factor.
Do your artists create work specifically for their portfolios? Do you coach them in this area?
Yes, they absolutely create work specifically for their portfolios. We guide and encourage them, but at the end of the day they are the creative force, and we are the opinionated sales and production house!
What styles are the hottest right now? Whose work do you admire most and why (besides that of your illustrators’ of course)? What new creative trends do you see developing? Anything unique to UK or EU countries?
Mixed media – people are loving cinemagraphs, living images for outdoor, and cleverly combining and animating illustration and photography to grab the viewer’s attention. Photo-real CGI continues to be in vogue, and BOOM and Caricoa are tops in this field and are able to make surreal imagery look real and therefore can provide for sensible budgets. Productions are getting more content out of a day’s shoot, combining TV needs with print and digital assets, all captured on the same day.
Are your artists incorporating GIFs and other forms of animation/film in their work? Any longer projects? Do you see this overtaking still imagery in terms of workflow?
We see this as an essential element and encourage as many animations/GIFs as possible, as moving image is known to get a better engagement rate. We encourage our illustrators to create GIFs as personal projects.
What changes in the business do you foresee in the next two years? The next five? What changes do you foresee given Britain’s exit from the EU? How will it impact your business with the US?
Brexit is going to make Britain align more with the US through trade and the pound’s becoming more competitive. The UK is as a hotbed of creativity, and we welcome the new opportunities that Brexit will bring. In the coming years, we see more brands taking creatives in-house and commissioning artists directly, which is both a positive for the industry and a challenge for the ad agencies.
What are a few the most interesting jobs your artists have worked on recently?
Philadelphia was a wonderful collaboration between three of our artists – Andy Rudak, Luke Waller and BOOM CGI, to create a series of GIFs to use on their social channels. Although the output was only ten seconds, we captured enough to produce long-form versions and is a great example of current demand for flexible content that can work across all media platforms.
Nissan – Oliver Paffrath shot the European campaign for their 2018 Nissan Qashqai on location in Lisbon, Portugal. The five-day shoot incorporated campaign images for 2018, captured alongside TVC production. Oliver shot the stills, PR, and editorial lifestyle for the campaign.
Maserati – We produced, retouched, and captured all assets for Maserati’s 2018 global campaigns (five cars in total) across two weeks on location all throughout Italy.
We also have some incredible projects waiting to launch in illustration, but we can’t tell you yet! Watch this space!
How active are you with social media? What is your social media strategy? How effective has it been for you? What other forms of promotion do you utilize?
We have accounts for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Pinterest is a huge driver of traffic to the site, followed by Instagram. As a visual company, Instagram is our preferred route, and we are steadily building up our following. Our strategy is to showcase the best work – past, present, or personal, that shows the diversity of the talent we represent. It’s a great opportunity to engage with followers, build loyalty, and potentially find new talent. We have partnered with Workbook, which has been great for us, and we use various online platforms/blogs to showcase our work and print adverts in traditional creative magazines as part of our marketing mix.
What advice would you give anyone interested in becoming a professional commercial artist or professional artists’ representative?
Take the blue pill…