PR and Communications Consultant for photography and visual arts
- How did you get started in PR and how did you find yourself where you are now?
A bit by chance! I studied history of art and photography in Paris at the Sorbonne and Ecole du Louvre, but I wasn't interested in being a curator, or an academic. I went on to do a Master's in cultural management at the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences-Po) in Grenoble and did an internship at the Communications department of the Maison Européenne de la Photo (MEP) in Paris. I worked on the biennial festival the Month of Photography organized by the museum, and on the temporary exhibitions. I met legendary photographers, inspiring curators and loved the jazzy atmosphere of the Communications office in the attic of the museum. After a year at the MEP, and a brief attempt to move to Montreal, I started to work with Catherine Philippot, a respected PR specializing in photography based in Paris. Our clients included many international festivals in Africa, Asia, Russia, art books, and galleries and museums exhibitions. I learned a lot at this small agency but found that I was missing a more direct connection to the artists.
The artist Anne Calas was looking for someone to help develop her projects –she had so many! It was a close and incredibly creative collaboration; it was very rewarding to see her art projects and exhibitions, concerts, album, or book come to life. My schedule with Calas was flexible and people started to reach out and ask if I would do PR for them. Soon, I found myself working on the launch of a comic store in Paris, a photo festival in Northern France, a website for contemporary art in Latin America, a cultural NGO… I was working more than I had ever worked in my life but the freedom was so exciting that I didn’t mind the workload –and never went back to a 9-5 job!
A couple years later, my boyfriend at the time got a job in New York and we moved there. I had worked with American journalists on international publicity campaigns but didn’t really have personal relationships there. I kept working with French clients while meeting new people in New York. I realized that my French and European network was of interest to American clients. A few artists trusted me with their projects, fellow publicists hired me to help with their clients, and little by little, I built a extensive professional network. Today, I have clients and strong relationships with media on both sides of the Atlantic.
- What do you specialize in?
I am a publicist and communications consultant for visual arts and photography. My clients include publishers, individual artists, art organizations, festivals, photo agencies, galleries, or recently, a photo lab. I often work on international projects as I love the idea that art doesn’t have borders!
- What are you currently working on?
I've been working with the Bronx Documentary Center since they opened in 2011. Their summer exhibition “Unbelonging” by Osaretin Ugiagbe just ended, and I’m already working on the show in the fall about Spanish Harlem in the 80s by the photographer Joseph Rodriguez.
I’m wrapping up the publicity campaign for Magnum Photos 70th anniversary program in New York. I’m starting to strategize the publicity campaign for the second edition of Photo Vogue Festival in Milan that will explore fashion and politics in November. And I'm always working on many photo books… I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm, some things never change.
- What is a recent success you're particularly proud of?
I got Osaretin Ugiagbe's exhibition at the BDC one page in The New York Times and in the Financial Times on the weekend of the show opening. It's very rewarding to see talent recognized by the some of most prestigious newspapers, to give a small gallery in the South Bronx international exposure and recognition. I'm always delighted when I come across people at international fairs or photo festivals, who know of BDC and speak highly about it.
I was also excited to make the cover of Vanity Fair Italia special design issue with a wonderful photo by Patty Carroll from her book "Anonymous Women" or to get a 4-pages feature in Newsweek Japan about Priscilla Briggs’ photo book on consumerism in China. I see these features as contributing to build bridges between different cultures.
- How would you say the media landscape in your field has changed since you started in PR?
It has changed in so many ways, as it should since the media reflects the evolution of society. Print used to be the only thing clients cared about, and that has drastically changed. Today, an online story or even an Instagram post, can have a much stronger impact than a feature in print. Social media have created a new paradigm, and as communications professionals we have to adapt our work methods to it.
- What is most important in your work?
As an independent PR, I don’t have the reputation of a firm to back me up, so it’s always been very important for me to choose carefully my clients. Over the years, I’ve built a solid reputation of working on quality projects. It contributed to building relationships with editors and writers. I try to meet with them in person when possible to get to know their area of interest and be more effective when pitching stories. I regularly go to festivals and fairs in Europe to catch up with my contacts over there. I also make sure to always be on top of changes within editorial teams, magazines or websites shutting down and new ones being created. My contact list is in constant evolution.
Being creative and thinking out of the box is also not only important but the fun part of PR work.
- Where is your favorite place for business meetings?
In the city, I love The Garden of the Standard East village in summer and the cozy lobby bar of the Bowery Hotel in winter. In Brooklyn, I often do meetings at Urban Vintage in Clinton Hill or Devoción in Williamsburg.
- PR can be fast-paced and stressful, what is your favorite way of relaxing?
After a long day of work, I like biking in Prospect Park with my boyfriend where we tell each other about our day, stop to look at the sunset and just take a deep breath. I’m also an avid reader. Books make me escape my mind, reality, feed my imagination and my curiosity. And if I’m really stressed out or unable to focus on work, I often start baking. It’s relaxing and makes everyone around me happy!
- What are you reading these days?
I'm always reading a few books at a time. These days it includes "Men Explaining Things To Me" by Rebecca Solnit – her essay about Virginia Woolf is particularly touching, and "Bleeding Edge" by the genius Thomas Pynchon. Also there is “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” a captivating autobiography by Carl Jung and "La bête faramineuse" by Pierre Bergounioux, the adventures of two young boys over a summer in the Southern France. And the one book I always have on my nightstand is "Sido" by Colette.
- What are you listening to these days?
Making playlists is one of my favorite activities (I also confess an unhealthy passion for trailers that cost me hours of my life…), and I’m listening to music 80% of the time when I’m not sleeping. I have been working for the past 3 years on two long, in-progress playlists called “Chill and work”, and “En balade” (On the Go). I grew up in a house where the radio was constantly playing, and I love to listen to the French radio France Culture, which keeps me up to date with the most interesting aspects of life in France. One of my favorite programs is À Voix Nue, a series of hour-long interviews with writers, psychiatrists, artists, historians and other fascinating people.
- What is the next event you're the most looking forward in the next months?
I just bought tickets for two major pieces by legendary choreographer Pina Bausch at BAM in September; I’m very excited to see them for the first time! I'm also looking forward to Stephen Shore retrospective at MoMA; the curator Quentin Bajac is brilliant, and I'm curious to see his take on Shore's work.