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Creativity is at the heart of everything, and nobody wants to work with dicks! Julie Thymann, Head of Art at Mother London and GoSeeAWARDS 2017 juror in an interview on GoSee and in person at UPDATE17 in Berlin

We are very delighted to welcome Julie Thymann, Head of Art at Mother London, as a juror at this year’s GoSeeAWARDS and soon in person at UPDATE17 on 6 October in Berlin. Since 2002, she has been responsible for the look of global print campaigns as an art buyer in London, and since 2015, she has worked as Producer and Head of Art at the creative forge, MOTHER LONDON. Here on GoSee, we present you top art producer Julie Thymann in an interview – and meet her in person at UPDATE17 in Berlin.

“I have been working as an art buyer and producer for over ten years, during which time I have commissioned high-end photography, illustration, CGI, typography, retouching and design projects across a broad range of clients including Levi’s, Lynx, Audi, Amex, World Gold Council, to name a few. My skill set includes creative/image research, all aspects of shoot production and budget management. My knowledge, great contacts and strong relationships mean I am able to ensure that work of the highest quality is produced whatever the deadline or budget. I thrive on finding new talent and working with the best and most creative exciting people. I have a great address book of photographers, illustrators and agents...”

You are Producer and Head of Art at Mother in London, one of the foremost independent creative agency networks. Can you explain your work? And what are your daily challenges in this important role? Creativity is at the heart of everything we do at Mother. My role is to lead a part of the production department so that we have the right contacts and people to keep working with the best talent out there. There are the usual challenges (time and money), but that makes it more interesting.

Have we seen any global/big campaigns you have worked on over the last years? I oversee a big chunk of the work Mother produces, more specifically all the stills and print – although everything is becoming more and more integrated. A few of the recent projects I’ve worked on include… We had Rankin shoot the most recent Vauxhall Pyjama Mama’s print, for which he was perfect. And then James Day did the portraiture of our chicken for KFC, not an obvious choice – but it worked out great.

Before arriving at Mother, I worked on a Juicy Couture campaign with Inez and Vinoodh at an agency called Suburbia where I also worked on a shoot for David Beckham’s H&M Bodywear with Mario Sorrenti. I loved working at Suburbia. The Creative Directors there (Lee Swillingham and Stuart Spalding) were amazing, and it was so unlike anywhere else I’d been at the time; and I got the opportunity to work on such different and high-profile projects. Projects such as a Louis Vuitton/Marc Jacobs book for Rizolli and a Gucci exhibition in China.

In the beginning, I started at BBH which was where I grew into my role (I was there for 8 years), and I had the opportunity to work on the Levi’s account, shooting their campaigns for probably five to six years, and got to work with some amazing photographers. Chadwick Tyler, Lacey and Steve Meisel are a few of the highlights.

Closer to home, I was involved in the massive inflatable breast that Mother put on a building in Shoreditch on Mother’s Day to challenge the stigmas around breastfeeding (in fact, I had to fly poster the side of the building at 6am that day). It got quite a lot of attention! That’s what I love about Mother, it’s fairly unexpected and keeps you on your toes. Mother is definitely my work home. I have been so lucky to be able to work with so many inspiring people over the years and across so many different projects.

The MOTHER Instagram account has takeovers from very inspiring photographers. Who collects them and how do you use social media for your work? We have some amazing people working in our department who have a great eye and who keep tabs on artists. However a lot of people approach us with ideas or proposals. We are quite strict about what we put up, and it has to fit, but this is possibly why it is fairly popular – you wouldn’t expect to get that from an advertising agency.

Your agency produces campaigns all over the world and for different markets. Do you think that the upcoming Brexit might be a problem for a big player like Mother? There will always be challenges with such a big change. All we can do is continue to produce work of the high quality we always have.

We are more than happy that you will be taking part in our UPDATE event in Berlin. What is your link to Berlin? Are you in the city sometimes? You know what, I don’t know Berlin that well at all, I’ve been once probably eight years ago for a very quick two-day trip, but it was mid-winter. I managed to see the usual tourist things. I had lunch in The Sphere revolving restaurant in the TV Tower, which was an experience! It’s somewhere I’d love to explore more, and I can’t wait to come over for this.

At our UPDATE Salon, renowned photo, illustration and CGI agencies meet production companies, art producers and creative directors. Plus, we also want to open our event so that young and up-and-coming creatives can take part. Which is why we organize our GoSeeAWARDS where photographers, illustrators, stylists... can enter their best series in different categories for free. The 'prize' is being seen by leading art producers and art buyers, and in our business, it’s important to be seen and get through for all these amazing talents. Do you have any recommendations for emerging artists? It sounds obvious, but focus focus focus. Really hone in on what you’re really good at or passionate about; that way you’ll get better and enjoy it at the same time. I meet a lot of people who try and take on too many things, and it just ends up diluting their talents. Which is a shame.

I think artist talent is one thing, but skill and knowledge are also required when working with clients and agencies or running productions. I speak to a lot of recent graduates who are super passionate and driven, and I believe that they should be shooting the next ‘BIG’ campaign. It’s important to understand that part of the talent is also learning how to work in the agency/client ecosystem – so I guess, don’t run before you can walk. That and being super nice too. Nobody wants to work with dicks.

You told us about your great address book with photographers, illustrators and agents – how can someone get into this magic book? How can someone get your lovemark? I try and see as many people as I can during the week – I love meeting people and looking at their work/their artists’ work. But there aren’t enough hours in one day, so I also like receiving updates by email and in the post. Although, I don’t have room for all the cards sent to me by agents. But I hate gimmicks – no gimmicks please – someone sent me dartboard last year, which was just weird.

Art & Photography... Do you collect photography or do you have any artists you adore? Yes I do have quite a bit. I have a Richard Mosse print from his project The Enclave, for which he won the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. I also have quite a lot of paintings and illustrations. I have a lino print by Stanley Downwood which I was given for my 30th birthday – and which I don’t think I’ll ever tire of. I recently bought two of Anne Nowak’s moon prints which I can’t wait to frame. But I’m running out of walls. My taste is fairly varied. I’m lucky because I am given quite a lot too. I have an amazing triptych by Steve Harrington who is an amazing LA artist and designer, whom I worked with on a project years ago. But books on photography and art etc. are my really big weakness. I buy too many.

Any recommendations for photo lovers in London? Galleries, hangouts, events you want to share with us?
So so many… The Photographers’ Gallery is very obvious, but it’s my go-to place (and also has a great bookshop). I love Flowers Gallery on Kingsland Road. The Whitechapel Gallery, The Barbican (if you go there, try and see the conservatory which is the most phenomenal tropical oasis), Victoria Miro gallery… The Estorick Collection in Islington always has slightly weird and fascinating work in it.

We have something called Downstairs At Mother where we put on varied cultural events etc. – which are always great and very popular. It’s on hold until October as we’re having a few renovations at Mother. My friend, Aine Donovan, who works at BBH does a yearly event called ‘She lights up the night’ where artists donate work for auctions in aid of Refuge (a UK charity) – she always manages to get great people and great work.
09.08.2017 // show complete article