Everyone wants in on the fine arts. Even Hollywood.
Agents who would typically represent Tinseltown’s A-list actors, directors, and screenwriters have become the creative matchmakers between visual artists and brands. Agencies are teaming them with musicians, moviemakers, businesses, and other clients, all of whom are interested in unique collaborations.
“For centuries, there’s been this image of the tortured artist with a paint brush,” said Joshua Roth, head of the first-of-its-kind fine arts division at United Talent Agency. “But now there are areas that they didn’t necessarily have access to in the past.”
The Hollywood talent agencies that have stepped in to represent fine artists add yet another layer to a landscape that already includes high-profile art dealers and their galleries, which traditionally had promoted and managed the work of artists.
Roth, for one, has longstanding relationships in the arts community – a valuable commodity in a world built on connections – having spent six years leading the art law department at Century City-based firm Glaser Weil prior to founding the division at UTA last year.
He is part of a five-person team of fine arts agents that act as his colleagues might for entertainment clients: They identify projects across platforms by working with film, digital media, and branding agents across the firm. They look for opportunities that provide a logical extension for both an artist and a brand, said Roth. Services might range from negotiating corporate partnerships to navigating new opportunities in digital, film, or endorsement deals, harnessing the agency’s 25 years of experience in these areas.
“What we do as agents is we try to create value for our clients,” said Roth. “We build a coalition to champion them by linking them in to different divisions.”
Creative Artists Agency, the largest agency in town and one of the leaders in representing brands and other nontraditional clients, has been working with art clients for years. Film director Steve McQueen is a CAA client, and having successfully crossed over as a video artist to making movies (including 2013 best picture Oscar winner “12 Years a Slave”) is the best example of the agency’s expertise in facilitating new opportunities. Julian Schnabel, the painter-turned-Oscar-nominated filmmaker, is another CAA client.
Recently, that has meant venturing into the digital realm.
“The rise of digital and mobile definitely provide more opportunities for artists to tell their stories and realize their ideas,” said Thao Nguyen, an agent specializing in art and design at CAA.
“We act as the interpreter for both the brand and the artist so that both entities are happy,” she said.
As for lingering questions about challenging galleries to represent artists, for Nguyen and UTA’s Roth, their position is clear.
“We view them as our partners. We work collaboratively with them,” said Nguyen.
“We’re not trying to put galleries out of business,” Roth said. “We’re trying to augment the artistic experience.”
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