Alan's Pics

From legends of advertising to the alluring landscapes of Egypt, explore Chief Marketing Officer Alan Firmin's top images and clips in the archive

1.    What is your role at Bridgeman?

I am the Chief Marketing Officer and my responsibilities consist of managing the brand, marketing, advertising & PR across all the Bridgeman Brands. My role is to lead a team of six professionals across all areas of brand and marketing strategy to align with our overall business goals.

This consists of managing the marketing team across email marketing, social media, brand and targeted marketing campaigns, advertising, events and more. The marketing team produces a great deal of content every week and my role is to ensure we are putting those efforts into where the greatest ROI are delivered for our company.

 

2.    What do you love most about the job? 

As a boy I remember walking into the careers office at school where I was asked what I wanted to do, I replied, “Art and Computers.” He looked at me as though I had just landed from another planet. You have to understand this was in the early eighties when computers were merely data driven machines. I knew the technology would evolve but I had no idea on how to bring these two passions together.

He paused and you could see his mind working overtime trying to work out how I could do this. He finally snapped in frustration, “How would that work?” I obviously didn’t know but here I am twenty odd years later working with computers and art.

Having the ability to dive into the Bridgeman archive is creatively inspiring, and every day you can take a different journey, in different mediums and styles.

I also love being surrounded by people you can learn from every day; this is something I have always looked for throughout my career. The knowledge base at Bridgeman in all areas is just incredible but the fact it is always delivered with such passion makes coming into work a real pleasure.

 

3.    What misconceptions do clients most commonly have about the archive?

Firstly, I would have to say the diversity of the archive.

I came from the advertising and digital marketing industries where our perception was always that Bridgeman only had what we would call the classic art from the masters. I was completely shocked when I saw the breadth of content that Bridgeman had curated over 42 years, it really is very impressive. This has been a clear objective to help transform that perception whilst still maintaining our market position of being the leading supplier of art images around the world.

 

Alan Firmin, Digital Marketing Director
Alan Firmin, Digital Marketing Director

 

 

Alan's favourite images and clips in the archive are...

 

 

The Starry Night, June 1889 (oil on canvas), Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) / Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA / Bridgeman Images
The Starry Night, June 1889 (oil on canvas), Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) / Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA / Bridgeman Images

 

 

 

1. Van Gogh

When I first started work I was sent to Amsterdam for 6 months on a project. As I was alone and knew very few people almost every weekend I spent walking around the museums alone and I fell in love with the city. One day I walked into the Van Gogh museum and it is a moment of discovery I often think back to on a rainy day. The movement and colours in all the paintings mesmerized me, something I hadn’t quite appreciated before that moment when stood in front of each canvas. Every visit I would find something new in the paintings and it started a true love affair for me with Van Gogh’s work. 

 

2. David Ogilvy 

David Ogilvy is a legend in the advertising world and ahead of his time in the world of branding. This ad was extremely successful for Hathaway shirts but it is the other side of the story that fascinates me as New Yorkers were seen wearing eye patches in fancy bars after the ad ran which cemented the power of advertising has on popular culture. David Ogilvy’s books on advertising are as relevant now as they were when he wrote them in the ‘60s and his insight and talent as a copywriter is legendary. 

Whilst filming a global TV campaign for Oreo I had the opportunity to work with a great copywriter called Robert Newman who had worked for David Ogilvy on a project early in his career - David Ogilvy’s documentary about his life. After months of back and forth working on this project David flew Robert, with his art director partner, from the US to Paris. As Robert walked into David Ogilvy’s chalet in Paris he asked, “Robert, if you were to write your life story, which writer would you use?” Robert answered, “I would.” So David Ogilvy smiled at him and said, “Enjoy your time in Paris, I’ll take this from here, I just need your Art Director for a few days.”  

 

Advert for the Hathaway Shirt, 1950s (litho), David MacKenzie Ogilvy (1911-99) / Private Collection / Peter Newark Western Americana / Bridgeman Images
Advert for the Hathaway Shirt, 1950s (litho), David MacKenzie Ogilvy (1911-99) / Private Collection / Peter Newark Western Americana / Bridgeman Images

 

 

Early morning at Giza / Laboratoriorosso / Bridgeman Images
Early morning at Giza / Laboratoriorosso / Bridgeman Images

 

 

3. The Pyramids, Egypt

When I first met my wife she took me to her home country, Egypt, where she took me horse riding around the pyramids. As we rode away from the pyramids I couldn’t help wondering where she was taking me. As we rode up a huge sand bank and turned around to face the pyramids I was struck with an image that I will never forget.

The pyramids dwarfing the city skyline of Cairo was my first real vision of these incredible structures in real life. As we rode back towards them in the morning sun the moment was forever etched in my mind. Unfortunately like most things in life the moment came to an abrupt end as we reached the pyramids and the horse my wife was on tried to kill her! 

 

 

 

4. Da Vinci

I have an insatiable curiosity over the life and genius of Leonardo Da Vinci. For me my fascination is not the Mona Lisa, the last supper or any other paintings he created but rather the range of skills from a man who could paint, draw, invent, sculpt and more.

I find it incredible that one man could have such a wealth of talents at his disposal and maybe this is part of the attraction to Da Vinci that has inspired me to always try to ensure I am constantly learning new skills.

The sketches and typography are the areas where I began looking deeper into Da Vinci’s world and his sketches of the human form are incredible considering the challenges he faced at that time in exploring this side of his work.

 

Studies of the foetus in the womb, c.1510-13 (pen & ink with wash over red and black chalks on paper), Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) / Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015 / Bridgeman Images
Studies of the foetus in the womb, c.1510-13 (pen & ink with wash over red and black chalks on paper), Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) / Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015 / Bridgeman Images

 

 

Do Not Disturb (oil on linen), Rebecca Campbell / Private Collection / Courtesy of Jonathan Cooper, Park Walk Gallery, London / Bridgeman Images
Do Not Disturb (oil on linen), Rebecca Campbell / Private Collection / Courtesy of Jonathan Cooper, Park Walk Gallery, London / Bridgeman Images

 

 

 

 

5. Rebecca Campbell

When launching Bridgeman Studio over a year ago Rebecca Campbell stood out for me with her wonderful story telling. It might be that this image, “Do Not Disturb” reflects a scene that I could see myself enjoying.

The idea of sitting in a beautiful leather chair with all these books to explore is my idea of pure escapism. Maybe not the cats but overall this is a wonderful scene I will hopefully have for myself in the coming years. I may be a digital convert on most things but I am still pretty old school when it comes to loving the tactile experience of a real book.

 

6. Jacques Moreau

I only came across Jacques Moreau whilst working at Bridgeman images and was immediately fascinated by his photojournalism of World War One. Every image he has captured the tragic conflict etched on the faces of soldiers and has been forever immortalized by Moreau.

Haunting, personal and powerful Moreau is not one of the first names that come to mind in the world of war photojournalism like Capa, Doisneau, Adams and more but for me this glimpse into the horrors of World War One and the people caught up in that tragedy are just as memorable.

 

Prisoners of War, World War One, 1917 (b/w photo), Jacques Moreau (b.1887) / Archives Larousse, Paris, France / Bridgeman Images
Prisoners of War, World War One, 1917 (b/w photo), Jacques Moreau (b.1887) / Archives Larousse, Paris, France / Bridgeman Images

 

 

British war veterans return to Duinkerken where they were evacuated in 1940 / The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision / Bridgeman Images
British war veterans return to Duinkerken where they were evacuated in 1940 / The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision / Bridgeman Images

 

 

 

7. Dunkirk

I grew up listening to my grandfather's stories about his life in World War Two. He survived Dunkirk and went on to fight in Burma and India but the stories of Dunkirk were the ones that always intrigued me. Dive bombed by German Stuka’s that once blew him into a house where a French family were sheltering, seeing the beaches and desperation of dying soldiers, wading into the sea up to his neck - which must have been hard for everyone but like many he couldn’t even swim. He left me a diary about his life in World War Two and it is one of my prized possessions and so any historic accounts, imagery or footage about Dunkirk is something I love to explore.

 

Find Out More

Alan Firmin is speaking about social media on 3 September 2015 at the Art Business Conference, a one-day conference, for senior art market professionals in London.


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