Mara’s Mix Asks Artist Agent Andrea Stern 5 Questions

Today marks the beginning of a Q&A series Mara’s Mix will be featuring on her blog including interviews with artist, agents and creative luminaries in the industry.

Mara Mix:  I’m super excited to share my first interview with artist agent Andrea Stern of Stern Rep. Andrea is a seasoned and celebrated commercial agent with over 20 years experience representing photographers in the product, automotive, and lifestyle industries among others. Andrea is genuinely passionate about the business and has a talent for building long-lasting relationships with her photographers and clients. She represents talent who have worked on major campaigns for Apple, Google, Target, VW, Beats, Subaru, McDonald’s, Bacardi, Sony, Hershey’s, Taco Bell to name a few.

So without further ado…

1. How has the commercial photography industry changed in the past 5 years? How would you describe the current state of our industry?

In my 20 years of representing artists, I have not seen a change like this. It has always been an industry of change because the advertising world possesses a young, progressive-thinking mentality but this time it’s different.

One of the biggest driving forces behind this transformation has been the rising importance of what is termed “content.”

Nowadays we need to incorporate all of the established ways we used to market ourselves like promos, meetings, paid website search engines, as well as staying active on all of the social channels. And the content we share must be clearly aligned with our brand if we are going to do this right. I always say Instagram is your second portfolio that can have a sprinkling of personal work on it.

Hashtags can actually get jobs. This is a new way that some clients are finding photographers. With that said, it’s not just about sharing endless content but it’s about sharing content that speaks to your level of expertise and gives people a glimpse into your life as a successful photographer.

It’s more complex now because you must have your own voice as part of your branding. This type of expression used to happen on the creative conference call during a bid. Now you can use these social channels as a way to publicly show clients on a regular basis what you will bring to the project when they hire you. We have always had to stay in front of clients through marketing, but now it’s adding a more personal presence.

2. What do you foresee changing in the next few years?

I think that social media and content creation are going to continue to dominate the scene. Photographers must go for it and work within this new paradigm. We are in a young business so photographers will appear dated even more quickly if they don’t take advantage of this social media world.

The big question is how do we succeed in this new world? My business instincts tell me there is not one correct way; we need to use our imagination. The creative process can’t stop with the images. The creativity must actually be brought into the marketing and business itself. That is why you and I are doing this interview, right Mara?

I foresee business trends shifting more and more into this new innovative style of personal creation. For example, I started a platform on Instagram called @AskSternRep where I can share industry insights, and photographers can ask questions and get answers. It’s my inventive way to increase SternRep’s public presence while acting as a marketing tool that I genuinely enjoy.

Developing our own ways to get ourselves out there now is the key. Business and creativity now go hand-in-hand.

3. What’s the secret to a long-lasting career as a commercial photographer in this day and age?

Keep rediscovering yourself. Get out there and try new things. You have to keep working on your portfolio. People don’t want to see a book of images from the past. Stretch your creative muscles in what you shoot and how you run your business. It really all comes back to creativity. This will show clients that you are relevant in today’s market.

4. What advice can you give to aspiring photographers?

Explore. I don’t even call it testing anymore. Explore and expand your look without losing that specific edge to your style. As I said before, all photographers need to rediscover themselves on a regular basis. Educate themselves, look at others, assist and learn as much as possible. Also, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of social media but I think the new photographers could really benefit from thinking beyond social media for their marketing as well. Send emails. Write people on LinkedIn. Go to lunch. Meet people in person. Aspiring photographers may need to get creative by finding ways to connect.

Go with your gut. Trust your instincts. If you have an idea about something you want to create, create it. Be open to inspiration and follow-through with your creative ideas.

5. What do you currently find inspiring in the photography/art world?

I am inspired by what is happening when we go with the flow and actually embrace these changes.  By getting creative in my own marketing methods I am now in touch with so many photographers and making contact with clients that would have otherwise been very hard to reach in the past.

I feel more connected. I am out of my own little box. I am enjoying the exchange I have with the world. It has completely changed the definition of a “rep” for me, and I am being reminded of why I first got into this business. I am enjoying being a resource for photographers and a part of this evolving conversation.

Really appreciate your wise words about the business, Andrea!

Folks, what are your thoughts about the way our business has changed over the past few years? Would love to hear your thoughts and observations!

Mara’s Mix

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March 2nd :: This Week’s Member Focus Round-Up

This past week’s Member Focus Round-Up included Illustrators Mark Smith, Ryan Richmond, Photographer/Illustrator Paul Thomas Gooney, Photographer Donte Tatum.

Photographer ©Paul Thomas Gooney “Silhouette of a Mystery Man

Illustrator ©Mark Smith “Spring Training”

Photographer ©Donte Tatum “US Swim”

Concept Artist ©Ryan Richmond “Venice”

To see more of the artists’ work, please visit

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February 23rd : This Week’s Member Focus Round-Up

This week’s Member Focus Round-Up included Illustrator Alicia BuelowPaul Maxon and Artist Rep Jean Blasco.

Illustrator Alicia Buelow

Photographer Paul Maxon

Artist Rep Jean Blasco

Please visit to see more work from photographers, illustrators, designers and multi-media artists members.

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This Week’s Altpick Member-Focus Round-Up

This past week, highlighted 4 amazing artists: Photographer John Kuczala; Illustrators Doug Erb, Jenni Catullo and Daria Kirpach.  Here’s the round-up!

©John Kuczala

©Doug Erb

©Jenni Catullo

©Daria Kirpach

Please visit to see more of the artists’ work:

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Judith Mayer’s Typedelic Posters

Judith Mayer was chosen as an artist for the newest series of typographic posters for Avondale Type Company, based in Chicago. The ATC Artist Series III is an illustrated exploration of the alphabet, highlighting illustrators and designers from around the world. Now in its 3rd year, the artist series boasts over 50 of the worlds leading illustrators from over 15 countries.

The premise is simple, an artist takes two letters, one symbol and the ATC logo and interprets it, using one ATC typeface, in any way they see fit. Outside of these guidelines, the interpretation is entirely up to the artist.
Mayer chose the typeface ATC Harris, a monospaced sans serif, because she was charmed by the two-storey lowercase g and the ampersand. The monospacing means the normally narrow characters, like the lowercase t, are wide in order to fill the space.

Mayer’s design started with creating a feeling of a three-dimensional space, but then she explored how highlight and shadow can inform (or confuse) the viewer about space. “I replaced light where dark might be in some areas. Flatness and depth are competing with each other. Inspired by psychedelic posters, I used a lot of colors with similar intensity next to each other. After I completed the designs I realized they reminded me a little bit of pinball machines!” said Mayer.

Visit Judith Mayer’s Altpick page to see more of her work, click here.

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Be Timeless, Be Original, Be Revolutionary

As a birthday present, my wife got this book for me! It is an Art book from Eiko Ishioka. You can get it as a bargain from Amazon starting at $299! It is cheaper if you don’t need the first edition though.

Eiko Ishioka 2006

I knew her works long before I got to know her name. I´m really intrigued by the worlds she created mainly for the screen. Reading through the interview at the beginning of the book, something remarkable stood out to me – three words of wisdom:

“Being timelessrevolutionary and original” are the three criteria by which she had judged the quality of design works.

Understanding this and the meaning, it looks to me that other great people have used these keywords as well to create their unique selling proposition, such as Steve Jobs.

Makes sense to me. Without being an Apple-evangelist I have to admit that every product is timeless, revolutionary and an original contributing to their success story.

Back to my initial thought on the interview in the book – I do not agree with the definitions of the interviewer on these three strong words and I spare you a citation, but submit how I understand them;

  • Be Timeless:
    When I think about timelessness, I think about culture, the way we interact. Timeless efforts are things we do to survive as well. Timeless design does not distract, it does support. Timeless art inspires you again and again.
  • Be Revolutionary:
    Everything that puts the status quo into question. A revolution is not successful if nothing is changed for a better. Checking constantly for improvements and chances to do something better is part of our daily (r)evolution. In terms of art and design it means to me: to combine things that haven’t been tried before, going a path that no one dares to walk, making decisions that will last.
  • Be Original:
    Insisting to represent your own ideals instead of copying existing patterns. In regards to art this point seems clear. But even then many artists would understand that originality stands for a unique style but I’m afraid that is not true. It rather points to original ideas and concepts, a style is always a secondary element in any depiction.
    In terms of personality, originality points at the origin, never deny where you come from, stand behind your decisions and never regret anything as it becomes part of your personality and personality reflects in your deeds. Even failure means growing as an artist.

I think there are many other words that might be helpful to label a bar on which we can raise our skills.  Starting with these three is a great benchmark for your work and a great way to start.

I believe many people live by these words without even knowing, but knowing what helps you to create better works is an asset, not knowing this is like reading a map without knowing where to go.

Written by illustrator Oliver Wetter

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Happy Holidays from Altpick Members!

Happy Holidays from Altpick’s members: photographers, illustrators, designers, animators and multi-media artists!  Wishing everyone a prosperous and joyous 2018!

©Umberto Grati

©Alicia Buelow

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©Bella Pilar

©Ellen Weinstein

©Davide Bonazzi

©Keith Barraclough

©Kim Wiseman

©Doug Erb

©Paul Garland

©David Owens

©Richard Borge

©Richard Borge

©Red Nose Studio

©John Kuczala

©Anthony Foronda

©Tracy Mattocks

©Lyn Alice

©Marco Melgrati

©Echo Chernik

©Garth Glazier

©Luca D’Urbino

©Echo Chernik

©Kari Modén

©Yien Yip

@Huan Tran

Ray-Mel Cornelius

©Jean-Manuel Duvivier

©Clay McLain

©Teresanne Russell

Kristofer Dan-Bergman

©Chris Lyons

©Robert Houser

©Oliver Wetter

©Randy Michael Korwin

©Lynne St. Clare

©Ken Orvidas

©Heather Holbrook

©Studio Caswell

©Kyle Dreier

©Alberto Ruggieri

©Marina Seoane

©Ivan Canu

©Judith Mayer

To see more of the work from the members, please visit:


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Artist John Lacko Finds The Time To Make The Doughnuts

by John Lacko

About ten years ago, I met a Miami cop who wanted to open a doughnut shop. This week that sweet dream comes true…

Turns out his extended family once operated a beloved South Florida bakery; a popular spot that got its start back in 1947. They handcrafted those pillowy soft, glazed doughnuts everybody raves about. The place was called Velvet Creme Doughnuts.

The long road back to a brick and mortar store included a few false starts and a bunch of test runs at free-standing kiosks and popular Miami food trucks – each of which I helped to design – but this week, the official Velvet Creme Doughnut Shop will relaunch in the heart of Little Havana at 1555 SW Eighth Street, next door to the historic Ball & Chain Lounge. Every time I mentioned that I was working to bring back the brand, friends would get all misty-eyed and start telling stories about doughnut-filled family breakfasts or endless nights studying for exams at University of Miami, fueled by boxes of doughnuts and bottomless cups of coffee.

My background in visual design & merchandising dates back to Burdines “Sunshine Fashions,” another beloved South Florida institution that faded into memory in 2005 when many regional big box stores were absorbed into the Macy’s brand. I got my start on the selling floor building store displays and wound up as an executive-level visual presentation designer crafting the interiors of specialty departments working on a computer. Partnering with two devoted South Florida families who have put their heart and soul into the resurrection of Velvet Creme is a far more personal task, and so I’ve found myself back on a ladder helping to place the dynamic graphics I designed that honor the history of the company and move the brand forward for the next generation.

My background in visual design & merchandising dates back to Burdines “Sunshine Fashions,” another beloved South Florida institution that faded into memory in 2005 when many regional big box stores were absorbed into the Macy’s brand. I got my start on the selling floor building store displays and wound up as an executive-level visual presentation designer crafting the interiors of specialty departments working on a computer. Partnering with two devoted South Florida families who have put their heart and soul into the resurrection of Velvet Creme is a far more personal task, and so I’ve found myself back on a ladder helping to place the dynamic graphics I designed that honor the history of the company and move the brand forward for the next generation.


To see more of John Lacko’s work, please visit his website and Altpick page.

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Photographer George Kamper Finds Atlantis

by George Kamper

The Atlantis Resort & Casino in the Bahamas has been on my radar as a shoot destination since they opened. I’ve been visiting Nassau for years, seeing our friends and shooting in, around and under their crystal clear waters. I was thrilled to hear we were awarded the project to create a library of images of their water parks and attractions.

Creating artful libraries has become one of our fortes.  We often shoot under water and have become specialists at shooting lifestyle imagery around water, pools, and resorts as well as providing video and drone services as needed. You could say we create a 360° experience.

We’re very adaptable and have a lot of tricks and knowledge that we bring to the experience. We keep it light and fun and we shoot fast… so we don’t capture stale moments, but focus on authentic moments and having fun. We offer very strong support in post-production and retouching, We’ll often encounter a cloudy or rainy day that we transfix into a beautiful sunny experience. We don’t have the luxury of not shooting when we’re on a trip. We’re always shooting and there’s always a camera within reach. If you want real moments, you have to be willing to live in them, and I think that’s one of our strengths.

We surpass client expectations and the challenges of returning from rainy days and challenging moments by loving what we do! We love our clients who allow us to bring our vision to their brands!

See more images from the shoot here:

Also, please visit George Kamper’s Website and Altpick page.

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LACKO’S Animated Mechagodzilla Cover for The Seattle Times

Lacko Illustration

With record temperatures keeping South Florida locals indoors this summer, Miami Beach artist Lacko Illustration has his eye on the start of the NFL PreSeason which marks the debut of his animated Mechagodzilla cover for The Seattle Times.

Celebrating the contributions of the defensive backs for the Seattle Seahawks who are nicknamed the “Legion of Boom,” Lacko created a hybrid football Kiru (Japanese for “machine dragon”) wearing Seahawk colors and fiercely guarding the ball.

Lacko Illustration

The NFL PreSeason kicked off on August 3, was perhaps the most anticipated team taking the field this summer is the Seattle Seahawks who kickoff against the Kansas City Chiefs Friday, August 25. Washington football fans are not only ranked highest when it comes to team loyalty, but also rated loudest when they reached over 137 decibels of ear-splitting sound cheering their team to victory at CenturyLink Field.

Lacko Illustration

To gauge just how passionate Seahawks fans can be, know that 137 decibels of cheering equates to a jet engine at 100 feet or a rock concert in full throttle. Sustained exposure to sounds over 90 decibels may cause permanent hearing damage – but that fact certainly won’t quiet a football fan on gameday. The Times serves as a vital link between players and fans. At the end of the 2016-2017 NFL season, former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch took out a full page ad in the newspaper to thank his fans before he left to play for the Oakland Raiders.

Lacko Illustration

In the stands, Seahawk fans wear lime green wigs, bright blue face paint and massive bird headdresses to show their team spirit, so the editors at The Seattle Times wanted a cover with a degree of intensity that mirrors that fanaticism. John Lacko laughs, “The Seattle Times contacted me earlier this year to see if I might want to take on a top secret project that would capture the attention of NFL fans. I knew I was up to the challenge.”

Lacko Illustration

Starting out with pencil sketches based upon the specific contortions of an NFL defensive player combined with the massive robotic structure of the Japanese extraterrestrial super villian, Lacko began to merge the mechanical with the muscular. “I struggled to make a 1970’s era space monster look more athletic. The one unifying factor for both characters is the notion of the BOOM, the moment of impact when monsters collide or players like Richard Sherman impact the ball.”

Lacko Illustration

Lacko’s full length monster covered Washington’s largest-circulation daily newspaper on September 4th, reaching nearly 350,000 readers in the Pacific Northwest. To add a layer of excitement to the NFL season launch, Lacko also created a 20 second animated spot featuring the booming footsteps of a massive Seahawk Mechagodzilla batting away a football. The teaser spot will appear on 

Lacko Illustration

Please visit LACKO Illustration’s website and his Altpick page for more of his work.

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