So a head hunter called me last week and set up a meeting for this morning. Her main question was, "what exactly is an art buyer/art producer?" A completely valid question. I usually will say "art producer" to people who are not in the advertising or photography industry. It sometimes makes it a bit clearer... I produce art. Mostly I help facilitate the process in which the idea gets from a creative's head or sketch to an ad.
An art buyer or art producer is one part creative services (creative support) and one part project management. The creative part is the fun part. I get to work with so many talented people whether they are an art director/designer or the photographer/illustrator. I help to resource and research great imagery for the client. I'll make some recommendations and work closely with the art director about the different artists. But ultimately it is the decision of the AD to recommend their favorite photographer to the client (or sometimes three which we call a triple bid). Then it rests in the hands of the client.
The project management part is the organizational part (a little OCD never hurt). This is more the technical side and where the negotiating, budgeting, scheduling and all the other small details come into play. Some of the details that may include problem solving ideas... the product we are showcasing is a running shoe that is only in a size 7.5 for women... the model is a beautiful, athletic, 6 foot tall woman with a size 10. Help come up with a solution to get her foot in the shoe, to run and look comfortable and to not permanently ruin her feet. The stylists will usually have ideas but the art buyer should always be prepared to run interference.
My opinion is that art buyers are artistic and happy people who have their home closets and pantries meticulously organized. They get the best of both worlds.