Interview with Chris Peters, Sr. Art Producer at Colle+McVoy

Jan 5, 2012
Industry News

While in Minneapolis last November for portfolio reviews and an ASMP event, I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Peters. Chris is the senior art producer at the ad agency Colle+McVoy. At Colle+McVoy Chris works with a wide variety of clients including Caribou Coffee, DuPont, General Mills, Land O’Lakes and many more. Knowing this, and the fact that Chris has worked with several of our photographers in the past, I decided he would be the perfect interviewee. Luckily, he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions about the art of art buying.

- Maria Luci

How long have you worked with Coll+McVoy?
Just over 12 years now. I consider myself very lucky to have found a job I still enjoy doing every day.

How did you get your current position?
I had been working for a photographer as a first assistant/office manager for a few years. We did freelance art buying for national agencies as a side business to the shooting. A good friend was working at C+M and told me about an opening for an assistant art buyer. I was ready for a new challenge and jumped at the opportunity.

What makes a photo great?
If it can hold my attention longer than a few seconds. But it’s so subjective. A truly great photo captures a moment where lighting, composition and subject all come together and ultimately, I think, surprise or enlightens the viewer. It should also have a little magic sprinkled in it.

Jonathan Chapman Photography - Minneapolis, MN - Purina - Animal photography

Jonathan Chapman for Colle+McVoy - Purina

What kind of photos do you look for at Coll+McVoy?
Each of our clients has widely different needs. On a typical day, I might look for photos of dogs, bikers, corn fields, families cooking, fishermen and tanker trucks. The common thread is the photography needs to grab your attention or evoke an emotion. I typically lean towards images that have a fresh perspective or have a cool look or some style to them. It’s hard to describe because there are so many ways to take a photo, but I know it when I see it.

What’s the best way to get your attention?
A good direct mail piece or email promo. I will usually follow to a website if I’m interested. Having your rep set up a show is probably the best. Then you’re getting the eyes of the art directors on your work as well as mine.

Has finding a decent photographer become easier or harder in the digital age?
It’s so much easier. I haven’t called in a book for years. I use source sits quite often. At-Edge and Workbook are my first choices. I also like Photoserve, Gallery Stock and ASMP. I look at FFFFound, Tumblr, Flickr and photo blogs. I love magazines as well. I also think there are more decent photographers working today than there were 10 years ago. The economy has weeded out the field somewhat. I see a wide variety of photo styles being accepted by clients today, which brings photographers into the commercial fold where previously they wouldn’t have had a market.

Winfield Solutions/Land O' Lakes Alexander Zoltai photography

Alexander Zoltai for Colle+McVoy - Winfield Solutions/Land O' Lakes

How has your position changed over the years?
Technology and the economy has change the job. Otherwise, art buying is pretty much the same minus the giant boxes of slides I used to get. I’m not sentimental about counting hundreds of transparencies or huddling over a lightbox for hours. Price calculators and search capabilities on stock sites have made finding and licensing stock much more convenient. Micro stock sites offering cheap photos with unlimited rights have driven some clients to abandon photo shoots and rights-managed images altogether.

What annoys you the most?
Cold calls. Watermarks. Slow websites. Badly designed websites. Websites with small images. Don’t make your photos tiny, make them huge. Let me bask in their glory. Empty coffee pots.

What’s the most satisfying part of your day?
Discovering a new photographer whose work excites me. And calling a photographer to tell them they got the job is still pretty fun.

View all of our past art buyer, photo editor and rep interviews here.

Tags: art buyer art buyer interviews colle+mcvoy