Can we start by finding out what value you consider creativity has in design today?

Creativity today can be defined more broadly than ever, as something that can be applied to a wide range of industries and that is being expressed more and more in the interactions between different forms of media. For example, you have the incomparable Karl Lagerfeld who is both a designer and a photographer and will be bringing these two media into creative contact at his upcoming show, Visions of Fashion. For the event taking place in Florence (on which I have been working as Project Advisor) Karl's photographs will be shown alongside the old masters in the Palazzo Pitti. 

Gosha Rubchinskiy, whose latest menswear line will also be featured as part of Pitti Uomo, is another individual who crosses the boundaries between media to reinforce his work, using photography and video to trace cultural trends that can then be incorporated into his designs. 
Another artist who deserves mention here is French photographer Charles-Henry Bédué, who is represented by my platform, nineteensixtyeight, and will be covering the entire Pitti Uomo event live. He is an artist who developed his highly distinctive, graphically-oriented vision in part from documenting fashion and high society events, which compelled him to look for a new style of photographing that satisfied his own instincts rather than those of his clients.

Does it make sense to be an artist in 2016? And to invest in art?

No one has ever been an artist because it made sense. If the question is about being a successful artist, it is both easier and harder to be an artist today, in the sense that opportunities to self-promote and self-publish are greater than ever -– especially through social media – but so too is the difficulty of getting noticed. 

I'm not particularly interested in the investment story. I have a genuine interest in advising my clients to expand their vision and knowledge by engaging with new talents and established photographers that might not be on their radar. I encourage them to buy only if they love the work. I urge clients simply to follow their intuition and stay informed, as that way they can't go wrong – first the artwork has been vetted by a professional, so there is security there, and most importantly, it has innate value because the client has connected with it on whatever level, be it emotional or intellectual.

And companies? There seems to be an increasing trend for companies to devote themselves to art... what pushes them to do that, do you think?

Many companies of course are motivated at least in part by an interest in establishing a culturally engaged and philanthropic image. But regardless of motive, at a time when cuts to federal funding for the arts are becoming deeper and more damaging, corporate brands have become vital as sponsors of the cultural sector and art initiatives. Part of my work involves focusing on these opportunities for collaboration: the company I work for, Showcase, is a specialist agency for whom I actively work to connect the business and culture sectors in interesting and mutually beneficial ways.

Speaking about creative young people, how we can really help them to emerge?

The majority of artists are now able to help themselves through online and social media presence, especially Millennials. These days, it is often more important to have a strong online presence than it is to get a place in a museum show. It's just a matter of timing - the museum's slow-moving mechanisms are not reactive enough to offer a young photographer visibility. Artists and especially photographers today produce work quickly because of the nature of the medium and the culture of sharing, and there is a need to stay current and locate new projects in the present moment.
 I am a great believer in the online space, which is why I conceived my photography platform nineteensixtyeight as a primarily virtual one. The online space is fantastic for flexibility, outreach and mass circulation of artwork. Still, behind that there is a lot of crucial work researching, editing and vetting the prints, which has to be performed or overseen by an expert - in this case myself.
Typically artists also need to receive proper advice on fundamental matters like editions and pricing and self-presentation as an artist -- enabling their work to circulate adequately and get a chance to be seen in a range of contexts, institutional, editorial, and so on. Often younger and even mid-career artists who don't have a great deal of experience in selling, need not just a platform to sell or promote their work, but also guidance from an experienced source as they move forward.


Are there any international best practices operating that may be useful?


As I mentioned, I direct a new platform for photography with Editor Elizabeth Breiner, where we seek out the work of new and under-the-radar talents to promote and sell. There are other e-commerce platforms that exist and are successful in selling large quantities of works in a more industrial fashion, and they can work fine for some who are either already well-established or are selling in large editions and are less concerned with the placement of their works.  

We pride ourselves on working one-on-one with the artists to ensure that we are presenting their work in the most aesthetically and conceptually effective way possible, providing context for the bodies of work that we feature and a rich range of editorial content to accompany the artworks. Curation is of the utmost importance, even online, and we put a great deal of energy into arranging our imagery with the care and consideration of a physical gallery, considering sizing, sequencing, navigation and textual integration. I am able to bring my expertise as a long time gallerist and art advisor, while Elizabeth brings her own expertise as an experienced writer and editor, with valuable experience in photography festivals and physical and online curation.
On the institutional side, Foam (Amsterdam) does incredible work recognizing and bringing into the public eye new young photographers who are pushing the limits of the medium in new ways. Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography is also a great space for specialists, once again uniting the fields of fashion and photography in innovative ways for a global audience.