Interview by Alexandre Orlowski
Nicolas Huet Greub, Parisian, aged 30, was raised near Paris by four women (his mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother).
He opened his agency five years ago, supported by photographers Roberto Badin, Arthur Delloye, Shelby Duncan, Ricardo Gomes and Romain Sellier.
Recently renamed 37.2 (at the end of 2020, he decides to merge his agency and his publishing house Rive Gauche), his agency is the first of its kind to accompany its artists in the publishing of their photography books.
You represent a new generation of agents, blending successfully commercial and artistic focus. Where did you learn the ropes?
Before opening my own agency, I learned the trade with Anne-Marie Gardinier, worked at Peter Lippmann's studio and alongside Nathalie Maudet at the art buying department of Publicis. Great experiences, enriching encounters. Anne-Marie always showed me kindness as did Laurence Tordjman (LT2) and Julia Roger (JR), Emilie Fontaine (IKO), other agents I am very fond of. We have beautiful ties. It is such a pleasure to grow alongside them in this business.
We obviously learn alongside personalities surrounding us (agents and artists) but there are also those we observe from afar with admiration and benevolence because in my opinion, they embody what is done best. I am thinking for example of Karine Quadriga, Olivia Mayolle (Rose), Carole Guenebeaud (Cadence). If there is a place to quote them, it is during an interview with you, Alexandre, who brings us together and gives us agents, as well as our artists, a voice through your platform.
DOAN LY, VOGUE ITALIA
What qualities are you looking for in an artist and how do you curate your roster?
In my work as an agent, I really enjoy discovering and launching artists such as Shelby Duncan and Doan Ly, as well as helping to develop the careers of well established artists such as Inès Dieleman and Roberto Badin.
Beyond their work, humanity, kindness and questioning are essential qualities in our profession.
What I love about all my photographers is their very distinct styles and different personalities. Be it on our website or around a dinner table, there is a beautiful alchemy. It works.
I love to see them together. It resembles Thierry Ardisson's cult show "Tout le monde en parle".
INES DIELEMAN, CHANEL SHOE
A few years ago, Catherine Mahé or Elèna Mazzanti (I'm not sure which) told me that photographers usually resemble their agent. I don't know if mine resemble me, but one thing is for certain, I find bits of myself in each of them.
ROBERTO BADIN, AGRUMES
What sets you apart and drives your passion?
Beyond my profession as agent and producer, I longed for a more artistic approach. So I opened a publishing house and gallery in 2019. I had the desire to develop the personal projects of the artists I represent and to reinvest some of the money earned commercially in artistic projects. One feeds the other and vice versa.
As I answer your interview, I am in Porto (Portugal) for the printing of Romain Sellier's second book and I must tell you I have as much pleasure in editing and highlighting an artistic project that speaks to me than to see how it is affecting the artist's relationship to oneself and to others on a daily basis. An artist thriving artistically is not subject to frustration and turns out even better in commercial projects.
ARTHUR DELLOYE, FAMILY PICTURE, INTERVIEW GERMANY
SHELBY DUNCAN, LEA SEYDOUX
Tell me more about the books you've published with your artists...
One of my best friends, Benjamin Blanck, had a publishing house and together we worked on two projects:
Playground by photographer Ricardo Gomes. The book took us to many places, including New York, where Bookmark organised a book signing. Madonna had the book in her hands. She loved it and wanted to meet Ricardo. He has been her personal photographer for the past two years, travels with her and even directed the movie about her last tour which will come out in a few months.
RICARDO GOMES, PLAYGROUND, BOOK PUBLISHED BY BENJAMIN BLANCK
Inside Japan by Roberto Badin. The project that definitely convinced me to open my own publishing house. I knew even before it came out that the book would be a turning point for Roberto. He was exhibited at the Arles photography festival in 2019 and will be at the Asian Arts museum in Nice this summer. Meanwhile, he continues to excel in the luxury and advertising worlds.
Roberto Badin is the very example of a photographer who makes you want to do this job. He is engaged, listens and gives you his trust. When I started the agency, he probably unknowingly taught me something essential: knowing how to surround yourself with the best and leaving them the freedom to excel in their respective fields (from the lighting assistant and the set designer to the retoucher).
ROBERTO BADIN, INSIDE JAPAN, BOOK PUBLISHED BY BENJAMIN BLANCK
With Editions Rive Gauche, my own publishing house, I went on to publish Romain Sellier's first book Bandra Sentimental, a sensitive portrait of Bombay, India's most populous metropolis through some of its young inhabitants.
ROMAIN SELLIER, BANDRA SENTIMENTAL, BOOK PUBLISHED BY RIVE GAUCHE EDITIONS
Then François Pragnère's first book Elle, She, Her. with a foreword from artist Phia Menard. He photographed and gave voice to ten young trans women from Paris. We are planning an exhibition and book signing in a gorgeous space, rue de Turenne, for the week of September 6.
FRANCOIS PRAGNERE, ELLE, SHE, HER., BOOK PUBLISHED BY RIVE GAUCHE EDITIONS
Can you share some of your upcoming projects?
We are currently working on several exciting new books:
Romain Sellier's next book Summer sequence with a foreword from actor Nicolas Maury is set to be released before the summer.
House of love by Shelby Duncan, a project two years in the making, documenting the artist's former life within a community of artists in Hollywood, CA, a place of freedom and soul... and Ines Dieleman's gorgeous first monograph is in the works.
Also Arthur Delloye's first book. He doesn't know it yet but I am going to put him on a plane soon for a great project close to his heart in which I believe a lot.
I have been working with Shelby, Arthur and Romain for 5 years now, Inès Dieleman joined us last year. She is what in French you could describe as a 'Grande Dame' and I feel extremely fortunate to collaborate and evolve alongside her.
You told me you were also working on Beyrouth, a new book by Maxime Meigen who you do not represent, is this a new direction?
Yes, the book is ready to be printed :)
If I love the work and the project of a photographer, I push forward. The publisher/ artist relationship is very similar to the agent / artist relationship. I need to "fall in love" with the artist and the work.
And I will try to conclude without sounding too cliché, but in my life I have always wanted to surround myself with beauty. Be it through people, art, travel, homes, sounds, objects and human connections. So if it means adding a little beauty to all this by editing an artist I do not represent... Crushes are quite rare so when it happens, you need to go for it.
MAXIME MEIGNEN, BEYROUTH, BOOK TO BE PUBLISHED BY 37.2
For Beyrouth, I had launched a call for projects in 2020 and it started from there. I financed Maxime's trip to go document the city after the explosion and I asked many personalities (editor-in-chief, journalist, surgeon, hotel manager, artists, etc.) to write about their city and mix their texts with Maxime's pictures.
The layout is finalized and the book will come out in the fall. All profits from the sale will go to a NGO helping to rebuild the city after the explosion.
FRED MEYLAN, KATE MOSS
And in closing, how would you describe the Agent’s Club in three words?
RICARDO GOMES, MADONNA
ICONIC PHOTOGRAPHER REPS NETWORK