Next week marks the inaugural event for the newly created Chicago Creative Review. Set for Thursday, September 25th at Morgan Street Studios, this event is set to be a great start, boasting an ever-growing reviewer list and support from APA Chicago. We took a second to chat with CCR's creator, Melissa Hennessy, about her reasons for founding CCR and her hopes for it in the future.
Can you give readers a little bit of your background in the art buying world and what inspired an art producer such as yourself to found the Chicago Creative Review?
I'm actually a former photographer and artist agent, so I'm very familiar with the process of booking appointments to show work. It's not easy. It's not that people don't want to see your work; it's just that there aren't enough hours in the day for them to meet the requests, as well as the demands of their daily schedules. This review was born from the idea that twice a year, artists, creatives, art producers, art buyers, [and others in the industry] could come together and see a variety of work in one day.
A unique aspect of your Review is that it includes a variety of people in the creative production community and is not limited to photographers. Can you talk about the breadth of your invite list?
Because this is our first review, we are starting with photographers who shot print and motion for advertising, design, and editorial clients, as well as clients who are looking to build brand libraries and content. We'd love to expand the idea to include other vendors that the creative community partners with, such as illustrations, animators, cinematographers, directors, post-productions specialists, and more.
Can you spill the beans on which creatives are attending the event?
As of this writing, we have creatives and art buyers from both corporations and advertising agencies such as Bader Rutter, Cramer-Krasselt, DDB, Discover, Energy BBDO, Leo Burnett, McGarry Bowen, Modern Luxury, Pitchfork, the Tribune, Upshot, VSA Partners, Wunderman, and Y&R. Some of our fabulous local artist agents will also be reviewing: Caroline Somlo (Somlo Talent)
, Patti Schumann (Schumann & Company)
, Simon Friend (Friend & Johnson)
, Erica Chadwick (ETC Creative)
, Sara Claxton (Claxton Represents)
, Patrice Bockos (Bockos Creative)
, Emily Inman (Emily Inman)
, Emily Hoskins (Candace Gelman & Associates)
, and Andrea Donadio (RAD Represents)
What are your hopes for this inaugural event? What does the future hold for CCR?
Our hope is that artists and creatives can come together in a relaxed atmosphere and have some face-to-face time. We are inundated with pictures every day on social media, in our inboxes, but it's not enough. We need to connect, to collaborate, to share some of our personalities beyond a handshake. I would love for a creative to walk away saying, " I can see myself spending ten hours a day on a shoot with that person." This business is about relationships, and I see the future of CCR is to be not only about sharing work, but also about creating those relationships.
Lastly, given your experience, how crucial are photo reviews? What other outreach can photographers do, or do more efficiently, when it comes to self-promotion?
Reviews are crucial to both parties. Part of the reason the review happens twice a year is that artists should be updating their works, books, and sites, at least twice a year, if not more often. Industry creatives expect to see work that is evolving and expanding. It shows them your passions, your work ethic, and your ability to challenge yourself. The feedback from the reviews is vital to the artist and necessary in their growth. It also helps the artists see what creatives are responding to. For the reviewers, it's part of their creative process as well…knowing and becoming familiar with the talent available to them. Sometimes a campaign idea may come to mind within that fifteen-minute review based on something someone saw in an image or series of images. It's also a chance for the reviewers to get out of the office for a bit and immerse themselves during an uninterrupted period of time.
You asked about other forms of self-promotion; I don't see the reviews as the only form of self-promotion. Artists need to be everywhere they can be in both print and online. I have been to many art-buyer panels and discussions and like any industry, you'll find half the people like email promotions as they are environmentally friendly and easy to bookmark, and the other half love a well-designed printed promotion. There are also sites like Boooom!, Feature Shoot, My Modern Met, NYT Lens, APhotoEditor, Magnum, Modern Art Obsession, OneByFourByNine, This Is Colossal, the Workbook blog, and many more where creatives go for visual inspiration. You have to try everything because you never know where someone might see your work.
For more information, including how to register for the event, click here.