22 April 2013

The Anormaly Interview with Store 44 Reps

The Ano[r]maly
The very talented illustrator Susie Loow recently interviewed Store 44 Reps founder Michael Muratore for the Jakarta based webzine, The Anormaly.com:

"We are very pleased to feature Store 44 Reps this week. Based in Arizona, Store 44 Reps has curated an eclectic mix of contemporary photographers and illustrators from around the globe, matching savvy clients with fine artists for advertising, editorial, and interior design projects for over a decade. It is also a very good chance for us to be able to interview the Founder, Michael Muratore about the story behind the scenes and also some hints for you guys; artists and photographers who are currently looking for representation to show off your artworks. Hopefully, this can inspire you!"

Continue reading on The Anormaly, or pass the jump for the full text of the interview.

Tell us a bit about Store44 Reps. How did you start it at first? Are you also an artist?

I'm an avid amateur photographer. I've been shooting since I got my first camera when I was about 10 years old. But I went to school for business, not art. After a few years of banks and brokerage houses, I jumped ship and moved to advertising, which combined my love of the arts with my business background. It was there I met, and eventually worked for, a long time artist agent with a stable of about 20 artists. Under her guidance, I learned the business and the process, and met many amazing artists from all over the world. When she retired three years later, I had the option of staying on to help manage her roster and clients with the rest of the staff, or striking out on my own with a new group of artists. A few months later, Store 44 Reps was born.

What did you find the most difficult to start this kind of business?

I saw a lot of what worked and what didn't work from a business perspective at the previous agency. Starting a business from scratch is incredibly difficult even with industry experience. For me, the hardest part was all the operational materials that needed to be assembled and created in order to develop a workflow. Databases, client lists, invoices, estimates. Getting a system in place that works took much effort.

How has the public accepted your artists’ works?

Most of the artist we've worked with these past years have an established fan base already. Many of them come from fine art backgrounds and have had their work appear in shows around the world. I think the general public can always find a photo or a painting they enjoy in almost any gallery or agency setting. It's not uncommon for some of the images on our site to make appearances on Tumblr, Pinterest, or some other forum. The editorial and advertising buying audience is of course much different, and we curate our work to hopefully attract the right clients for our artists. I have relationships with some buyers and art directors going back a decade. They are not afraid to tell me what they like and don't like!

What is the most challenging part working with your artists?

I've heard the joke made before about how working with artists is like herding cats. I suppose that's true in a sense, it can be hard to get them to move together in a particular direction as a group. That's why we do a lot of individualized marketing. But of course I'd have to say the most challenging part is getting their work in front of the right people. Art buyers and art directors are pummeled with images all day. We want to be seen, but not be annoying. Every artist has their dream clients, and we do our best to try to get their work in front of the decision makers at those organizations.

What is the most helpful tool in promoting your artists? Do you find social media help you a lot?

We are on most of the major social media networks, and we use each one for different purposes. Social media really helps our artwork spread organically. People can share what they like from our website and blog, and we can see what images and portfolios are working, and which ones are not. Social media offers a great way for the artists to cultivate their fan base. As an agency, the social media networks offer the additional benefit of paid advertising. Each network takes different approach, and we'll use those differences to our advantage to help promote our artists with their paid advertising campaigns. On Facebook for example, we can target our ads by company. We can choose from a long list of advertising agencies, magazines, and more to build an audience on an artist specific basis. On LinkedIn we can target by region, job title, and industry. Add the right image, copy writing, and these ads become powerful tools to get our artists work in front of their client base.

While social networking may be the most helpful, it does not diminish the importance of traditional methods of artist promotion. Sourcebooks, both online and in print, as well as industry mailing lists for emails and postcards, and of course, personal contact all play an important role. AltPick, Workbook, Directory of Illustration, Agency Access, FoundFolios and Vertical Response are just a few of the tools we use on a regular basis.

Maybe our audience would like you to name some of your artists and feature their works. Some successful stories would be great too!

Probably our most prolific artist is illustrator Giulio Iurissevich. Giulio was with Store 44 Reps since the beginning, and he has built quite a following and an impressive portfolio. While his style has evolved over time, his fashion illustrations and collage still maintain that signature look that he originally established with vectors. His illustrations have appeared in countless publications, and his designs have graced everything from trade shows to clothing and Pepsi cans. Giulio is also an accomplished fine artist, appearing in group and solo shows across Europe.


Is your representation currently available for any new submissions now, especially from Asia? Maybe you can give us some guidelines to follow. 

We would love to see more illustration, art, photography, and design coming from Asia. The bulk of our submissions currently come from Europe, South America, and the United States.
As a boutique agency, it's not possible to represent all the amazing talent that we see on a regular basis, but we do encourage submissions. Especially by email, because I am able to search and find matches for our clients using keywords. Even if we don't represent the artist, we will still make a referral if it's the right fit for the project. For someone like me, a huge fan of both photography and illustration, reviewing artist submissions is one of the best parts of the job!

Submission guidelines: http://store44.com/submit/

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