Lining up creative talent
Montrealer reps illustrators and photographers to ad community

Montreal has a wealth of talented photographers and illustrators working in its advertising industry. Anna Goodson is on a mission to introduce them to a wider audience.

Goodson is president, of Anna Goodson Management Inc., an agency that represents photographers and illustrators to Montreal's advertising community, and to businesses in general across North America.

"I know it sounds funny, but sometimes I feel like Rene Angélil (Celine Dion's manager)," said Goodson, noting that Dion labored as a minor celebrity in Quebec for more than a decade, before Angélil brought her to the attention of the American public. "Montreal has many talented illustrators and photographers that could work on a bigger stage if only they would expand their horizons."

To understand the crucial importance of imagery in the advertising process, look at any print, Internet or billboard ad. Enshrining the text you will inevitably find either a photograph or an illustration. Most advertising professionals will tell you that non-verbal communications, are more important than the verbal, in getting the point across.

Unsung and largely unknown to the general public, the artists that produce the imagery accompanying ads are a key part of the advertising community. Those organizations that are best able to identify and work with artistic talent consistently produce superior advertising.

Advertising production is not assembly line work, where agencies employ a photographer on-staff, who takes pictures as required. Most ad campaigns are produced on a project basis, where an art director assembles a team -- which can include photographers, illustrators as well as copywriters and other creative professionals -- based on the nature of product to be promoted.

For example, for a fashion campaign, a fashion photographer will be hired. Similarly photographers exists that specialize in a multitude of industries such as food, travel, and automotive. The trick for an agency is to track down the best creative talent, for the campaign they are running.

That's where Goodson comes in. With her stable of two dozen creative professionals, and her wide range of industry contacts, she is able to provide agencies with the best person available for the assignment at hand.

"The deal made, with the professionals I represent is simple: they can sell their services to newspapers and magazines and earn all the money they want," said Goodson. "But I handle their representation to Montreal's ad community, and in international markets."

And those international markets are proving promising -- Goodson now draws more that 80 per cent of her agency's revenues from outside the province. "It's really a lot easier than it sounds. Company's are now very comfortable working on the Net, and that means location has less relevance."

During a recent assignment, Goodson set up a photo shoot for a Toronto advertising agency -- whose client was in California -- without any of the principals ever having to get on to a plane.

"The end product was a Web-site for a financial services company targeting generation X," said Lisa Murtha, a senior producer at Toronto agency Mighty Design "The concept we presented our client, featured ten lifestyle photos of contemporary-looking young people."

"Anna did a casting call, where her photographer produced digital test shots of about 50 models. These were sent to us over the Net, along with copies to our client in California," said Murtha.

"We then selected nine models. During the actual photo session, which was completed in Montreal, digital photos were taken, and sent to us so we could also approve the models' wardrobes as well as their hairstyles and makeup."

Did the agency mind being in Toronto and dealing with a photographer in Montreal, shooting for a client in California? "It was a fun experience. Neither myself or our client ever left the office and everyone was thrilled with the results," said Murtha.

Artist representation in Quebec is a somewhat underdeveloped market. "In the U.S. agencies won't even consider dealing with a photographer that does not have an agent," said a spokesman for Planète Claire, another Montreal representation agency. "Many American agencies just assume that un-represented artists are not yet well enough established."

Goodson's approach combines the best of both world's: a talented base of professionals, often uncomfortable selling themselves, along with her in-your-face approach to closing deals with her tough American clientele.

"Many photographers just assume that if they set up a Web-site, people will somehow find it, and orders will come pouring in. They don't realize just how many sites there are out there," said Goodson. "My site got 70,000 hits last month, so the illustrators and photographers who list with me, get their work shown to the top decision makers in the ad community."

Where is the representation business going? "I think we have just scratched the surface, in terms of exporting the talent we have here in Montreal, said Goodson. "And the Net is the perfect vehicle."


Photo caption: Anna Goodson helps illustrators and photographers get assignments in the ad industry.

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