Who Am I?

I help creatives grown their businesses and their talent

Christine Saunders Creative Consultant & Coach Photography & Illustration

As Winston Churchill is quoted in response to being challenged over arts funding at the height of the Second World War, “If not the arts, then what are we fighting for?”

I am driven by a fundamental belief that creativity lies behind everything that makes life worth living. These are not just pretty things on the periphery, but the things that lie at the heart of meaningful and enjoyable existence. Function helps to get us to the end of the day, but creativity makes the journey worthwhile.

For as long as I can remember, creativity has been a passion and a defining feature of my life and surroundings. I grew up in a family of musicians and my dad ran a jazz club in London's West End. My brother has spent his life as a professional pianist and, as well as making me extraordinarily proud, watching him – his dedication to practice, his hustling up gigs, managing the logistics, and always prioritizing the music over the fee – has been an inspiration.

 

At school, the only subjects that inspired me were music, the arts and sociology. I loved learning how people tick whilst listening to Chopin or Leonard Cohen or Elvis Costello. Living in London with a mum who loved the arts, we frequently visited Wigmore Hall, the London Festival Hall, Hampstead Theatre and The National.

 

My love of art drew me to a career in advertising, and I started as a stills producer at renowned London agency J Walter Thompson in the 1980s. This allowed me to learn all about the world of commercial photography and illustration. I was lucky enough to work with a young rising star called Nadav Kander, David Montgomery, Terence Donovan, the wonderful Norman Parkinson and the incredible illustrator Gerard Scarfe. I then moved to Saatchi & Saatchi, where I worked  with Daniel Jouneau, who would take a week in his studio in France to provide Harrods with stunning still life images.

 

My other agency experience includes working at FCB, CDP, and DDB (Adam & Eve). This afforded me further highlights, like working with David Bailey on L’Oreal, Bob Carlos Clarke on Canon, Nick Turpin on The Guardian, and Tim Bret-Day on Harvey Nichols (whose image is on the home page of this website).

 

In between these regular jobs, I took a few years out to set up an illustration agency called Black and White Line where I got to work on award-winning work with artists like Bob Murdoch and Dave Hopkins. I also went on to become a photographers rep, during which time my stable included Paul Murphy and Andy Roberts.

 

Realizing that I loved the creativity much more than the politics of office life, I spent the early 2000s training as a life coach, and left the agency world to launch my business. I married a writer and we moved to Seattle where we spent the next 13 years. The city is one of the creative hotbeds of the United States, and saw me extend my client base to other types of artists such as actors, writers, musicians and dancers. I also did some freelance work at some local agencies and the Publicis Seattle office, and was invited to join the board of the ASPP (the American Society of Professional Photographers).

 

We returned to the UK in 2018 to settle in Oxford, where our 12 year old (American) daughter is coming to terms with the English school system (not to mention the accent). I still have clients from before we left for Seattle who have stayed with me throughout, and I am glad to say I continue to work with some of those that came to me during my time in America. But I’m now looking forward to building up new relationships with some of the fabulous talent back here in Europe that just needs a little help in becoming the best it can be.


 

What do I do?

I help identify and address anything that is blocking a creative person from being as good at what they do as they can be.  

I understand that life as a creative is complex and has its own set of particular challenges. Some of these are shared by many creative people. It can be a lonely and vulnerable existence with few people available for the sort of advice that is sometimes needed. Doing this kind of work is deeply emotionally involving and it can sometimes be hard seeing the wood for the trees. Creative people like to push boundaries and this means occasional mistakes are inevitable. And the work can be very fragile and many artists have an inclination to be very hard on themselves.

I am knowledgeable about many facets of the tradecraft of creativity. I can provide in depth folio reviews and help the curation of your shop-window. I can identify particular areas of strength and weakness when it comes to the technical skills involved in creative work. And I have extensive experience when it comes to the commercialization of creativity, and the best routes to plug talent into financial opportunity.

Perhaps above all, one of my own greatest strengths is my one-to-one empathy. I believe I can only really help you if we take the time to get to know each other as people. I need to figure out what makes you tick. I’ll want to talk to you about all facets of your life – your health, your domestic situation, your finances, your most important relationships, your hopes and fears – as well as your creative perspective and ambition.

It is this combination of understanding the world in which you live, the specific challenges of your work, and how you are as a person deep below the surface that enables me to make the most amount of positive difference possible to what you are trying to achieve. Put simply, I make sure I get you completely and I have the tools to help.

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