Volume 2-2012



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Learning from Jimmy Iovine

Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine was featured in a recent piece in Rolling Stone, and it was one of those rare celebrity interviews that actually yield insight and useful information for people interested in music production and engineering. READ MORE...

On Selling Songs Through TAXI

Occasionally, as an amateur songwriter, I will open the account I have with TAXI, the Web-based Artists & Repertoire service, check out the listings, usually for those calling for Film & TV soundtrack music, and if I have something that seems like a possible match I will upload an MP3 mix and submit it for consideration. I never get anywhere with this past-time... READ MORE...



(Click here)

New Releases on RARadio: "Last Call" by Jay; "Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; "Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" from Actress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; "Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio; Apteka "Striking Violet"; Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along"; Dana deChaby's progressive rock




"The Musical Meccas of the World"









Original Musical Compositions and Select Covers

Fiction and Non-Fiction

Special Projects







This edition we spotlight  CAROL OLIVETO, pictured left. She is an Art Director who RAR first became acquainted with through L.A. rocker Nikki Ferrari - or maybe I should say because of Nikki. I ran a photograph of him that was either incorrectly attributed, or not attributed to a photographer at all. I pretty quickly heard from Carol, who was responsible for the Nikki shots. She didn't appreciate my error, but far more impressive was how much she did appreciate my correction, which was immediate.

Carol and I have been engaged in email exchanges ever since having to do with the commitment at to recognize all the artists involved in making the images and other creative contributions that make ours a more interesting and colorful world in which to live. Carol introduced RAR to Renee' Lauren, the Philadelphia-based Agency Director of Click Models who is also featured in these pages. And Carol has been extraordinarily helpful in educating RAR to her world of artistic design, casting decisions and lighting calls.

The more I got to know Carol, the more fascinated I became. She is a dedicated visual artist whose work is remarkably personal, which is particularly interesting given that if folds so seamlessly into the highly competitive world of big-time commercial advertising and marketing. Carol has left and right brain functions set to "high." She manages every aspect of her world, from concept designing to photo execution. She hires creative talent, books models, manages budgets and schedules. And she apparently does it with aplomb.

Jim Jordan, who took the photographs below of Carol in the red dress, says this about her - "I've been working with Carol for many years as an art director. She is one of the most talented visionary/art directors I've worked with in my 20 years of being a celebrity, fashion, advertising photographer. She not only has a great vision but she is a team player and is a talented photographer herself who understands lighting, technical setup, and composition. She is a gift to this business and its a blessing to work with her."

Fashion Stylist Melinda Tarbell agrees - "Her vision and passion are contagious and have no boundaries. Carol has a special gift to bring out beauty and unique perspectives regardless of the project. She is constantly driving change and helping those around her to think outside of the box. I look forward to each project with Carol as she brings out the best in everyone she works with."

Hair and make up artist Rebeca Flores further concurs that Carol is "able to communicate her creative vision to the crew in an accurate, clear, and concise manner. You never have a doubt as to what she wants." But lest you think she is just a cool managerial type, Rebeca adds this. "Besides this quality there is here warmness and genuine care for the crew. I can speak from a personal experience about a time we were on a location shoot . I became very ill on a job and when the day ended she came to my room with a tray of bottle water and medicine and asked me if I wished to have some one else come on the job to cover me, although she had specifically requested me because she liked my work. She is the quintessential professional, but is a warm human being."

Wow. Intelligence, style, grace, artistic flare, the respect of her professional peers, and devoted friends. That's why Carol Oliveto is a featured artist in this edition of







by RAR


"I started out wanting to be an illustrator - that is what I do, I draw. But by the time I walked into the first commercial photography studio I had ever worked, I was hooked. It is like creating magic....what you see in the camera and off camera can be so different. How a person looks in front of the camera, if they have that magic, is so incredible.

"I have found that magic to be so driving _ I do my own photography and I love getting to the real person, not the one that stands in front of a camera and holds their breathe, but when they relax - you get to the real them. The candid shots that sometimes take your breathe away. To describe it? Well maybe it's that something different in the eyes and maybe body language that says so much - that second when you catch someone off guard - when you really see what you are looking at.


"If you want to compare it to musicians: it would be someone who just plays because they see the notes on a page and someone who plays because their heart and soul are in the music they are playing/feeling."


The words above, which are Carol Oliveto's, introduce her about as well as can be imagined. You get the wonder that seems to encapsulate her feelings about her chosen medium, photography, and her sense of an available magic. That she is "the magician" is probably intoxicating. Carol is an Art Director thriving in "toney" professional circles. Twenty-plus years into her career, she recently joined the staff of a Marin County marketing firm, where she directs photo-art projects. As the shots below, from her portfolio (see more at
) show, Carol has a great eye, a powerful sense for capturing motion, and an amazing visualization ability. As photographers go, she is a real time editor, framing her shots like camera-ready art. In fact, the more you get to know Carol Oliveto, the more she strikes one with her blend of creative vision and management efficiencies. This kind of advanced left brain/right brain functioning is not all that common among people in general, and possibly even less so in passionately creative types. 

These were among the many aspects of her being RAR asked about when Carol agreed to the inquisition. 

Photos by Jim Jordan


First off, I love your photographs, which have the look and feel of classic advertising images, or classic National Geographic shots. Did you actually pull the trigger on those shots? Were you the photographer, as well as the art director in each case?


Thank you so much for liking my work. So to answer your question - You would have to ask me about each specific image. There are the images I direct when I am working as a photo art director and I am with a crew on a specific project. And then there are the images I shoot as a photographer.

You are obviously accomplished at image making, though I am not sure what of these shots is the product of great subject matter, and what is the product of brilliant execution. Is there any way to describe your approach to producing such shots? And is producing a good word for what you do? 


I am not sure if producing is the right word - maybe creating - or maybe being sensitive to what's around you. I believe there is always a story to tell - you just have to see. Photography (like drawing) is the ability to see your world differently then those around you and then being able to show it - communicate it to others. To see every day life and be able to see something different then what every one else see. Maybe it's the lighting , the camera angle or the lens.
As a photo art director the story is about what we are advertising /selling. There are details as a consumer you need to see. The images I shoot as a photographer tell a different story - it is more about a moment in time (a moment in that person's life - where you get to see them).

I love this saying "Sight is a faculty, seeing is an art"

In my recent exchange with your friend Renee' Lauren she was really focused on the delight she feels in what the creative people behind those photographs of models create in illusion. As art director, do you pick the illusion? Or do you provide the execution for something you are contracted to do? How does that work?


This is a longer answer then I can write here - so this is a shorter version. 


1. First depending on the project you have - is how big an illusion you can or can not create. But I agree with Renee about the delight in each photograph being created. As an art director I work with people to develop a concept and then execute on or to the concept. But before it gets to the point of executing the concept - and what I don't think people realize is - there are a whole lot of people I need to make happy. The CEOs, the VPs, the creative directors, the buyers, the account exec. (that would be the corporate side) then there are the people on the photo crew you need to relay the message to say they can help you with the illusion and then finally once executed and printed the consumer. If an idea can get passed all those gate keepers then I did my job well. When you do commercial photography / art etc for a magazine, a catalog, a cover whatever the project you are always responsible for interpreting their vision because you are the director on set.


2. Editing: Good editing is a big part of the creative process, sometimes the best shots are not used for whatever reasons. 


3. Chemistry: there is a certain chemistry you look for between the crew members then the relationship between photographer and director / between photographer and model.


4. What I like to do is push the envelope. Here is what you asked for but here is where I can take the image and make it different or take it to another level. So, do I pick the illusion...? not exactly, but can I make the illusion better?... is the question I constantly ask myself.

When I do my own photography well that is a different chapter.

I know you are an illustrator at heart. Wasn't that the start of this, love of drawing?


Yes, I love to draw but I also realized I love photography. Drawing teaches you to see. It teaches you to study details that others might over look. What I can appreciate from the drawing then switching to photography is the training (or disciple) it gives you in details and in composing in a space.


All of my personal photography is composed behind the camera (meaning I don't take a picture then crop into it later for composition) The composition is done when the shot is taken.

Do you have other creative outlets for your drawing talents? Or other talents "we" might not even be aware of? 


I still illustrate cards. In fact I have been told most people that I send my cards to end up collecting them. I have been studying Chinese brush painting not calligraphy but painting people. I played drums for awhile I really liked playing but haven't done so in awhile. I just don't have the time or my drum set anymore. Cooking has become a creative outlet - I like cooking for friends and family - I think it goes back to my Italy heritage - I love when people are sitting around the dining table having a great time - it actually becomes an event.

Were you a creative kid? When did this type of urge hit you?


I remember drawing before I could write. I told my parents when I was five I was going to art school.

Is this type of work you do an extension of an early passion?


I believe so, most photography projects I start with an illustration / sketch of some sort. I like the ability to create and build things. Everything around you starts with a sketch of some kind.

Are you a Northern California girl? Where are you from? What is your family background?


I am a "Philly" girl. I have spent most of my career working / living between Philadelphia and New York until I moved to California for work. Both sides of my family are from Italy.

You have a great deal of experience doing what I might call project or production management, arranging logistics and monitoring production schedules. Managing people and processes. That strikes me as almost a complete left brain/right brain meld, which is pretty rare. You must be sort of intense? Is that what it takes in your line of work?


I have been told I can at times be very intense at work. But I don't think there is anything wrong with being passionate about what you do. I have also been told I have that right brain / left brain "meld" as you call it. What I have learned through experience is, if you take care of the details up front then you have more time to play and be creative on set. And that is when the magic can happen.

Looking at your resume, you have done everything from catalog work to product branding, print advertising, clothing, on and on. It is a diverse list. You must be more partial to one type of work over the others. What do you enjoy?


I love being out on photo shoots whether it is on location or in the studio. A layout comes alive when you get good photography put in place.

This sounds suspiciously like a job interview, doesn't it? Is it right to say that you are a corporate animal? Is there any other type of client for an art director? 


I wouldn't say I was corporate animal. I would say I set my goals and go after them. I am usually a little too direct for the corporate world out here in CA.

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the better places to be for other types of creative design types, like architects, for instance. How does the Bay Area rank as creative centers go in your line of work? Is there a pecking order? 


Not sure how to answer this one. 

You are involved in the nuts and the bolts of business deals, negotiating pay rates, managing bookings, and even casting projects. You even have budget responsibilities – the mark of a true professional manager in the corporate world. Do you come from a family background of go-getters? How did you become so broadly skilled and knowledgeable?


My family instilled in us as kids that a job wasn't something you took lightly or for granted. You keep your promises and work hard. You keep your loyalties and always look out for others. 


There are jobs I have taken were the budgets aren't as high so you get to wear lots of hats, producer, director, location scout, casting, stylist, travel agent, cater, photographer's assistant and more.

How did you get started in art direction?


I went to school to be a fashion illustrator and then got into photography. I did an inter-ship at a photo studio and haven't stopped since then. I started free-lancing with photographers as an assistant some weeks and other weeks I would do layouts for catalogs or newspapers. After awhile the bigger picture starts to develop and I started getting work art directing an photo art directing.

You have worked a lot of staff positions, but you have also worked freelance. Does the type of engagement affect your role?


I believe so... When you are on staff there is more office politics to deal with. There are the people that want to get promoted and the people that report to you and situations you need to handle when you are on staff vs. When you are free-lance you come into a project to help. No one reports to you and there are less meetings you are responsible for. But you have less control or say in the projects - the concepts have usually been signed off on by the time you jump in.
What I do like about being free -lance is you be come more diversified because you are not always working with the same people. As most things in life there are pros and cons to both sides.

I see that you book creative talent of all kinds, a really diverse group of specialists. Are they independents? Consultant types? Where do you get your people?


I have a great networking system. I have been in this industry a long time. I work with many modeling agencies both west coast and east coast. I know many reps for photographers, reps for hair and make-up people and stylists. And there are the independent creative talents that you can work with that don't want a rep. Rep = representative as in an agent. Most recently I have been working in LA with the producers from the Kontent Partners. I love when a project brings a new connection and a new opportunity to network.

You are only as good as your reputation in this field.

Do you have a great rolodex? Or are you one of those computer people?


I have both.

Tell me about the crews you work with. Are they strictly professional? Or fun? Is there a personality type that does the type
of work you do?


Short question - long answer.


First thought that comes to mind. You are only as good as the people you work with.


As far as personality types? Well like any other business there are all kinds of people that do what they do. I work with very professional people (and they are fun to work with) when I am working on projects that are client based. There are all different "types" of crews. I start with the project - then define the crew.


Example: If I am shooting lingerie there is a certain type of photographer I look for and then the rest of the team falls in line from stylist to make up and hair stylists to models. If I am putting an outside shoot together say in a park or on a beach then there are different photographers that I would want to work with. Same with still life shoots in studio. But still life does not involve as big a crew as a fashion shoot.


I also still like to do testing. I get to let loose when I test because there aren't the rules I have to play within.

Is there anything exclusive about art direction in general versus photographic art direction? The photographic machinery aside, are there aspects of photographic art direction that makes it an entirely different pursuit?


To start art/photo directors that work in photography, TV and movies deal with 3 dimensional elements of design vs book, magazine / web design deals with 2 dimensional elements. There are art directors that deal only with graphics and typography, there are web designers these directors / designers don't deal with photography at all. There are art directors that do both the layouts and the photography directing. It all depends on what field of art you get into.

What are the qualities of a great art director?


You have to have an eye for design and details. The ability to read people. Translate what the right brain is thinking to the left brain. The ability to communicate with people and lead them down the right creative path of a project. Understanding your client if you are doing commercial work. I don't always do what people tell me to do - I always do what they want. It can be two different things.

So attention to detail is a natural extension of your personality. Do you unconsciously straighten frames on walls?


I think it is a little bit of both. I love the details of a project because when the details are taken care of then you can play. If you don't understand the details the bigger picture falls apart. You have to understand the bottom line because there are budgets, deadlines, kinds of equipment used so you know how or what you are directing. It is like being a musician if you know your chords and the scales then you get to play and make music.

Do you play well with others? Or are you bossy and authoritarian? I see that you have "reports."


I believe whether you work in a "creative field" or not work it's always better if you play well with others. I love the collaboration it takes to do a fashion shoot. I like being able to mentor people and learn from them also. But the other side to that is yes I make the decisions as the director on set. I have the final say because in the end I am held responsible for the photo shoot. I also took the liberty of asking a few people how they felt about working with me. So hopefully you will get some interesting answers.

You seem to have been one of those lucky people who found their calling while young. Do I get that right? If so, how do you account for that? 


I am not sure. I just know I always wanted a "creative" job. I like being around creative people because they see the world differently. They hear the world differently.

You have been pretty determined about your career, it seems. Or are you just a naturally good worker?


I think if you love what you do it comes naturally. If you read about all the great artists/ people that are successful at what they do they all have that element in common: love of_____________. They don't view their work as "a 9 to 5 job". It's not something you shut off because you punched a time clock for the day.

What is your favorite type of shoot? What do you enjoy most?


I like doing fashion and people. I love being able to travel to different places. You always meet such interesting people and see such wonderful sites.

What is the toughest shoot? Or gig?

When photography follows Murphy's Law: When you need to be out on location and it pours rain or when you need the sun to come out and it won't. When the camera breaks in the middle of a shot. When the model doesn't show up. Animals are always interesting they don't always do what you want them to do. What do you do in these cases? Go to plan "B".

Do art directors know each other? Is there a community of art directors that commune?

Yes, many art directors know each other and many photographers know each other. Art directors get awards - Clio awards - for example - like musicians get Grammys. There are all kinds of websites, groups and magazines for commercial artists and photographers. Communication Arts Magazine / Graphic Artist Guild / Society Of Illustrators / ASMP: American Society for Magazine Photographers to name a few.

Do you look at a photograph and search the credits for art direction?

Usually if there is a credit on a photo it is the photographer's name. Sometimes magazines get into more credits on a feature but it is more likely the styist, hair and make-up and model.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

Me, but much better. If I don't push myself who will? Although, there are a few movie directors and DPs. Directors of Photography for film I would love to be or at least meet and work with.

Or do you feel pretty grown up?

Does anyone ever grow up? I feel I should never stop looking, searching or reaching for something new.

 Any thoughts you'd like to end on? Anything you've been dying to say?

If you lose the joy of discovery then you don't see the magic. Hopefully, I am just getting started - wait till you see what I can really do.




PHOTO CREDITS: These are not offered as examples of Carol Oliveto's portfolio - as far as I know she wasn't involved in these shots - but the familiar faces here are representative of her work in the fashion industry. 

Carol has worked with all of these people and many more. The comments on each are hers.



" The best part of creative direction is starting with a concept and seeing it through to fruition.


"Being able to know all the hard work and hours that went into planning a project can actually accomplish a finished project on the other end. I love the details of a project. The budgets / the planning / the team it requires to get a project off the ground / and of course the deadlines.


"Take for example a photo shoot on location for a catalog. I use a photographer, photographer's assistants, hair person and make up person (sometimes they are one person but I prefer to have both), a producer, models, stylists, stylist assistants - in a way it is like a crew for a movie but smaller and we are doing stills. (No tracks for the camera) And let's not forget the RV driver - the location van is very important to any project and the cater. After the project is all agreed too - the team is the most important element to get right . It has to be the right players to create a certain spark you are looking for on film.


"I have worked in the country and outside the country. I have taken crews out for a month at a time. I think they were the most fun trips. We had a bus (like a rockstar bus) with a living room and a dressing room. We would go to different areas and shoot for catalogs depending on the season. The Great Sand Dunes of Colorado was a great place to shoot.


"When you shoot for catalogs you are always one or two seasons ahead so the print date falls in the right season. You shoot Christmas around August. Swimwear in January for the summer season. We would travel to Miami / Jamaica / Caymen Islands for swimwear catalogs in the winter.


"Mountains for winter catalogs in the summer. Telluride in the summer may still have a bit of snow depending how high you go. The highest place I have ever shot was on the top of the Canadian rocks in Banff. The crew had to be helicoptered in. I got some great pictures from the helicopter of the landscape.


"I have worked with the biggest modeling agencies in America: Click, Ford, Wilhelmenia, Next, LA Models to name a few.

Some people I have worked with who you might know (included in left and right panels):"


Learn more about Carol OIiveto by visiting her site at (site under renovation, August 2007).


From May 1, 2008 Edition

Catching Up With...

Carol Oliveto: Creative Director / Photog

In August 2007, ran a feature on the talented photography and creative director Carol Oliveto (right), who at the time was on staff with a marketing firm in Marin County, California. Carol has since left the corporate gig to work freelance. She writes - "These days I am an independent contractor - creative director - art and photography. Since I last talked with you these are the words that come to mind: excitement, creativity, collaboration and fun.

"What I like about this world? I get to branch out of the "job description" that holds true when you take a corporate job. Now I can be the art director / photographer / designer and/or creative director in all or some of those parts. The other great thing about working this way is the freedom that I have to work with other talented people. You can see the creativity and partnership it brings. You might have a great idea and they might have a great idea but together it's brilliant.

"I wanted to share two samples with you:

"Raffaele Ferrara: a men's clothier I have been working with Rafaelle Ferrara Clothing on the branding /
advertising for their line. I partner with a wonderful person, Gil Devlin, who is a great driving force. I shoot the photography and design the catalogs. The creative is a partnership. Gil is the web creative / web designer. I feel we have an elegant example of where you can take a company's identity when left to a true vision.

"For World of Luxury Publication I had been working on some new images: still life and people. I have been working with make up artist Rebeca Flores and some very talented models. Again, when you get a chance to partner with talented people wonderful things happen. Since I have worked with Gil on other projects this seemed like the perfect fit. By working the images into concepts for this publication we can show how their publication could be presented with options for design formats for their covers, fonts and themes / topics in photography."

Carol has some great photography sites, including these:





©Rick Alan Rice (RAR), May, 2012