A day in the life of an at buyer

A Day In the Life of An Art Buyer

Q: What does an art buyer actually do on a daily basis? How do they go about selecting talent for a campaign?


Buzz, buzz…It’s 7 AM Kristina. Time to get up and start the day. Dare I check my email before I do anything else? My fingers answer the question for me as my email is open almost as soon as my eyelids are. Numbers are in, the shoot in Florida is going well and the first round of illustrations are due in by 10 AM. Perfect. Everything is going as planned. Ok, time for coffee. I roll out of bed and get ready for the day, happily knowing that all is going smoothly so far this morning.

Walking in the office I pass some studio folks who’ve clearly been here most of the night — I can tell by the way they’re using the studio table to prop themselves up. Hurray for deadlines! It’s all for the love of the game I think to myself as I approach the coffee machine with a crowd standing around it. I chat with everyone for a minute as I estimate my wait time for the precious fuel. Ultimately I decide to come back for the second round a bit later.

At my desk now I open my email to discover close to 500 emails in my inbox — time to scan some promos. Laborious, yes, but I love this part of the morning. The light shines in my office as I review art and bookmark beautiful work — I’m in my happy place.

I placed my favorite promos on an “inspiration board.”

A little while later and it’s time to prep for meetings. I have concepts to review with a new team and artists to finish researching for another. I decided to dive head first into research first. I know the team is looking for photographers who shoot with surreal lighting and heavy post skills. This concept requires finesse, as not everything can be captured in camera.

Interruption! A creative needs three shooters who capture candid moments in natural light. Ok, I’ll get on that too. I take a minute to jot a few names down before running to a meeting about a new ad campaign we’re heading up. Arriving at the conference room, I find it filled to the brim with all of the teams. I find a seat against the wall and pull out my notepad. “I guess we’re all in this together, eh?” I say to an interactive producer next to me. She smiles and nods, “yep.”

After forty-five minutes of debriefing the media buys, components and general look and feel of the campaign, we get to the items that apply to my team. Madly taking notes, we discuss the technical execution as well as the emotional impact we’re going for. Now all I have to do is find artists who can help execute this amazing campaign!

I get back to my desk just in time to receive all three estimates for another job that I’ve been working on. This requires another coffee, and maybe a granola bar. After a short sustenance break I grab my calculator and get to work on these estimates. Are these quotes really apples to apples? Who’s doing what? Wait, someone has five days and another has three. It’s time to make some phone calls to find out why someone thinks they need more as well as less time to get the same job done.

It’s 4pm now and my office is filling with creatives ready for conference calls. We have agreed to speak with four artists who might be a good fit for the job. We really only need three to triple bid, but there is one in the bunch who looks to have a different approach, and the team is looking forward to hearing more.

On set with Christopher Griffith and Team Saatchi LA

A short while later and the calls have been completed. We have our three artists to proceed with, so I’m off to follow-up with their reps to go over all of the details from the shoot, as well as the budget. Wrapping up my day, I’ve now created six more folders for jobs. I cannot leave my office until everything is organized for tomorrow. I have four jobs going on right now and another can hit any minute.

Lying in bed hours later I wonder if I should check my email again before going to sleep. Does anything need my immediate attention? I’m sure it doesn’t but I check anyway to put my mind at ease. Looks like everything is buttoned up for this day. Lovely. As my eyes lids get heavy, I wonder what tomorrow will bring. Seconds later I fall asleep, reassured that tomorrow will be another exciting day in the ever-changing life of an art producer.

Kristina Hicks

The International Photo Awards juror and frequent APA guest lecturer was most recently an art buyer/producer at Saatchi & Saatchi in Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia, where she played a key role in their Toyota campaigns. She has also worked on campaigns for Volkswagen, Ocean Spray and The Truth Campaign, as well as in event/music production for artists including Lenny Kravitz and Fleetwood Mac. Kristina's love of photography dates back to the first time she held her father's Leica 35MM Rangefinder. Now, as a Creative Consultant, the experienced portfolio editor and Los Angeles resident is excited to help other artists fulfill their commercial potential.

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Join the conversation

  • Stacey - 3 years ago

    I am an Art Buyer at Ogilvy SA. I would love to work overseas

  • Dee - 4 months ago

    I love your writing technique, especially adding the humor at the beginning of post. Thanks for posting!