What inspired your transition to freelance? What factors influenced your decision to branch out independently?

I was an unfortunate casualty of layoffs in 2023, but ultimately the ability to take more ownership of my career path, coupled with the opportunity to partner with a diverse range of agencies and clients, made the freelance decision undeniable.

What are your favorite parts of being a freelance art producer?

I love collaborating with a variety of teams and clients. It’s great meeting new people and working on all types of projects. It exposes me to new ways of thinking and different methodologies for accomplishing all the stages of a project, which makes me a better producer.

Which project do you hold closest to your heart, and why did it leave such a lasting impact on you?

Probably the LensCrafters “Eyes love LC” campaign (2009). The production approach was so different from any project I’ve ever worked on. It involved casting real people and creating scenarios for them to “play” within. In order to ensure these were successful and the imagery was authentic, we entrusted the photographer to do what they do best, so no client or agency personnel attended the shoot. We got daily hard drives of what was captured so we could review and share any notes for future days in case there was anything we wanted to lean into or away from based on the selects that were coming together. The photographer, Bil Zelman, was incredible at connecting with people, and the agency and client teams were thrilled with what he captured. It was a project of true craft and collaboration, and the campaign reflected that.

What are your top strategies for forging fruitful collaborations with other creatives when you're freelancing?

I always do the best job I can and make an effort to connect with people.

If we were to ask your team or collaborators, how would they describe your work ethic and personality?

Hard-working, trusted, organized, detailed, proactive, positive, reliable.

With numerous people to manage and projects on the go, what's your secret recipe for keeping everything in harmony and ensuring nothing falls through the cracks?

The most important tool is communication. I strive to be clear, thorough, and organized in my communications with everyone, as well as sharing important info, updates, etc to the team verbally AND in writing. People absorb and relay info in different ways, and I’ve found a helpful approach to ensuring everyone understands and is aligned on how we’re moving forward is to hit on those different learning styles (e.g. auditory, reading/writing, visual, kinesthetic). 

Beyond that, I also ask questions and provide insight into what the team and/or client is expecting. Take a treatment for example – beyond general lighting, casting, locations, visual aesthetic, etc, the team may want to understand the photographer’s approach for capturing authentic docu-style moments within a staged scene and casted talent.

How do you nurture relationships and stay connected with fellow art producers, especially in the freelance world?

I do my best to connect with people on a personal level, not only professionally. It’s a great opportunity to swap restaurant, travel, movie/show, book, podcast, new artist, gallery exhibit, etc recos or just chuckle together over our pets or hear what their kid(s) are dressing up as for Halloween.

Being a freelance art producer offers flexibility, but surely comes with its challenges. Can you share one major advantage and one challenge you've faced in your freelance journey?

Having more control over my career path and schedule is a big advantage. The lack of a sense of belonging somewhere was a challenge initially, but I switched my mindset to belonging everywhere and that has helped.

Financial stability can be a concern for freelancers. Do you have any tips or practices that have helped you maintain consistent income and manage your finances effectively?

It’s important to have a detailed budget and forecast your needs accurately. You bring a mountain of expertise to the table, so don’t be afraid to charge what your services are worth. It can take time to build up your freelance business, but I believe in doing the best job I can for every project and I invest in maintaining the strong network and relationships I’ve built over the years. 

In this ever-evolving world of art, how do you discover and onboard fresh talent?

I typically use a variety of the industry resources, Instagram, some publications, and connecting with reps and fellow art producers. 

When you’re in a creative discussion, what specific attributes or qualities resonate with you the most in choosing talent?

People who communicate their ideas and thoughts effectively, ask questions, and are also good listeners standout. Nobody wants to work with mean, rude, or difficult people, so being genuine and kind go a long way.

How do you reignite your creativity during downtime or when you're not on a project?

I try to tune into what my mind and body are calling for. Sometimes all I want to do is a craft project I’ve been concepting, or an outside activity like hiking or gardening to soak up some fresh air and sunshine. Even doing a fun day out in Portland exploring the sights and popping into a new restaurant (or doing a coffee or pizza “crawl” lol).

With the industry's rapid shifts, how do you ensure you're always updated on the latest trends and practices?

The nice thing about working with different agencies and clients is I’m naturally being exposed to more. Beyond that, talking with reps and artists is insightful to hear how they are harnessing any new tech or how something may be affecting how we do productions.

What are some emerging trends you've observed in the creative visions of recent projects? And, how do these align with the industry's broader trends?

Several of my recent projects have focused on conceptual, graphic, clean visuals. Sometimes minimal or monotone color, and other times very bold and colorful.

As freelancing often requires constant upskilling, are there any courses, books, or resources you'd recommend to budding art producers?

I haven’t run into this as much, but I know LinkedIn offers a wide range of courses to build and/or expand hard skills, as well as professional development courses for soft skills.

How do you gather feedback on your work, and how has it helped you refine your craft?

At the start of a project, I ask about any processes (e.g. reviews, approvals, estimates/POs/invoices, etc), preferences (e.g. organization, communication, etc), and other pertinent info or resources (e.g. travel policies and contacts, IT, etc) that would be helpful during the job. Everywhere handles things a little differently, so I try to do my due diligence to get that info up front so I have a road map or playbook so-to-speak before the project starts. It helps inform different aspects of the project (e.g. schedules) and avoid potential issues. 

I’m always open to input and feedback throughout the project. It could be as simple as sharing the info and how we’re planning to move forward, and including “let me know if you have any thoughts or feedback”. I’ve found this approach ensures they’re in the loop on how the project is developing, which ultimately makes it easier to pivot as you go if needed vs having to go backwards.