As the President and Founder of Communication Arts + Design, Christine Anderson has a full plate. She also incredibly well-known and respected in the industry, and she has the client list to prove it.
On any given day, you’ll find Anderson fine-tuning marketing plans, reinforcing brands, and spearheading public relations efforts for interior designers, design showrooms, architects, reporters, publishers, curators, etc. out of her Santa Monica office.
How did Anderson get into this specific PR-niche? Who are some of her biggest clients? In an exclusive interview, we learned the ins and outs from the design PR guru, Christine Anderson.
From Art to Design
It’s no wonder Anderson was attracted to the world of design and art. After all, she grew up with two artist parents.
In the early stages of her career, she worked for art dealers by default. But over time, her role as a dealer shifted into public relations. As publicist for a gallery, she got to visit a number of art fairs, and the rest all fell into place.
“At one particular art fair downtown, I saw a model of an architectural masterpiece by Coop Himmelblau called “The Open House,” and I thought, “wow, that is living sculpture.” It was phenomenal! That was truly the pivotal moment that brought me out of the arts and into architecture and design,” Anderson explained.
Growing a Respected Firm
After 20 years in the industry, Anderson’s firm, Communication Arts + Design, is very well respected by designers, architects, and other industry insiders.
Over those years, Anderson worked with many wonderful, high-level clients throughout the design, architecture, and showroom spectrums. Whether it was promoting a lovely product and jewelry retrospective with Frank Gehry, or working with Steven Ehrlich on his institution division, Communication Arts + Design was at the helm.
After a particularly exciting project with Steven Ehrlich, Anderson noticed that doors began to open rather quickly. “From that point on, we started working with clients like Coop Himmelblau, Soli Architectural Surfaces, and Snyder Diamond. Today, we’re handling a lot of the PR for Mark Weaver and Associates in West Hollywood, Kitchell Custom Homes, and a new client, PHX Architects in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Beverly Hills.”
The revolving client list and specific seasonal needs that come naturally in the design business helps to keep Anderson’s workday interesting and varied.
Working with a Legend
As she was building her firm, Anderson frequently joked that the minute Frank Gehry called her up (for work), she’d be ready. Gehry, of course, was on her “dream client” list.
And then it happened.
“Out of the blue, the Museum of California Design called because they were doing a retrospective of his work– they wanted to celebrate it. In the end, we did a wonderful event for Frank.”
Anderson took on the project in stride, and elevated her own brand in the process.
A Changing Industry
In working so closely with the media and publishing world, Anderson has seen the real impact of social media on the design industry. Although it wasn’t necessary just a decade ago, Anderson admits that today, “social media is everything.”
“It’s imperative. It’s the ‘now.” It’s the future. It brings you audiences from all over the world in two seconds!” she explained.
She also believes that the key to staying relevant today in such a noisy world is to spread your net out far and wise. “There isn’t just one digest or publication that everyone reads or refers to. And while you think you may know your audience, you never know the opportunities that arise without branching out.”
Since many designers and design professionals may be interested in working with a PR agency, Anderson recommends you do some homework first.
“Talk to your editors and other industry professionals– because they know who works on-time, who gives good promotions, and so on. Also, look for someone who is conscientious. Don’t fall for someone who is charming without knowing their work ethic. Check out their client roster too, as well as the number of press clips they’re doing.”
Then, trust your PR agent, and don’t be afraid to try something new!
Anderson has a full schedule on the horizon. “I’m excited to be speaking at the UCLA School of Design about PR and marketing in the coming weeks. In addition, I’m excited to announce a new project my firm is working on: Design Blast LA.”
Design Blast LA is designed to be an a la carte PR experience for people who can’t afford or who don’t necessarily need a 24/7 firm. “With this venture, we will help send out any announcements and blasts, so that clients who wouldn’t be able to otherwise can access the entire design industry.”
Check out the full video coverage from our special interview with Christine below: